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Isaac Coleman Grants: Rebuilding and Connecting Communities

Communities of color in Buncombe County are spearheading projects helping youth learn to read, creating healing environments for local neighborhoods, maintaining our local histories and legacies, and connecting each other to lifesaving resources with the help of Isaac Coleman Grants. Buncombe County’s Isaac Coleman Grants fund hundreds of thousands of dollars for projects that support social justice, equity, and service access for our county’s black and brown communities of color. These investments are part of a broader approach, which includes continuing partnerships with nonprofit and faith-based organizations, providing mini-grants to augment emerging and innovative community efforts, supporting small businesses, validating social determinants of health, and investing in education and the economy. Because of these grants, local organizations are getting the support they need to make meaningful, lasting impacts.

“When we talk about the services that are offered [within our community], there is a wider gap with black and brown people,” says Michael Hayes, executive director for UMOJA Health, Wellness, and Justice Collaborative, and grant recipient. “Because of the Isaac Coleman Grants, we were able to start developing peer support specialists that we need to be in the community to do the work.” As a result, UMOJA can provide safe spaces to help our black and brown communities of color unpack trauma and seek and promote healing. UMOJA is just one of the current five grant recipients providing a wide array of support and/or services for communities in Buncombe County.


The current funded projects for Isaac Coleman Grants are:

  • The E.W. Pearson Project from the Shiloh Community Center in collaboration with Burton Street and East End neighborhood associations whose goal is to create sustainability in collaborative community projects.
  • Hood Huggers International from Asheville Creative Arts whose goal is rebuilding Affrilachia through youth and community engagement.
  • PODER Emma Community Ownership from Colaborativa La Milpa to maintain connection of our Latinx communities to their heritage and community ownership.
  • Read 2 Succeed for work to build equitable opportunities and outcomes for literacy in our communities.
  • UMOJA Health, Wellness, and Justice Collaborative to create place-based peer support services building equity in recovery.

For more information on any of these projects and their goals, you can visit our Strategic Partnership Grant website here or watch the video above where you can hear from each organization on their mission, goals, and philosophy for providing much needed services and support to our communities.


Back in February 2017, the Board of Commissioners approved $635,426 for the Isaac Coleman Community Innovation Investment Grants to help rebuild neighborhood communities and connect residents to economic and educational opportunities. These grants initially went towards seven different projects. In June 2020, the Board of Commissioners approved 3-year Isaac Coleman grants with all newly funded projects to last until June 2023 (subject to budget availability and project performance).

A Lexington, Kentucky native, Isaac Coleman was a civil rights leader in the south from the 1960s and according to his wife Wanda Coleman, “…an activist to the end.” His lifelong contributions to our local community lead to him being named as one of Asheville’s Living Treasures in 2014. He co-founded Just Economics, received the Martin Luther King Jr. Arc of Justice Award, the Asheville City Schools Foundation Champion Award, and many others throughout his lifetime. He passed in 2016, but through the work of the Isaac Coleman Grants, his legacy and work continues.


If you have a program, organization, or project that you think could benefit from Isaac Coleman Grant funding, your project could receive funding during the next application period. To stay up-to-date on the current initiatives, apply (when available) for your own funding, or for more information about the grants, visit our website.

Isaac Coleman Grants

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Updated Aug 25, 2021 07:42 AM
Published Aug 25, 2021 12:00 AM