If you’re a local organization working to better our community’s access to early childhood education and development, then Buncombe County has grant dollars available to help make your plan, or the continuation of your plan, a reality. Last year, $3.6 million was invested by Buncombe County among 19 different projects within 11 organizations. These grants are open for any public governmental, nonprofit, or private organization to apply.
The board that oversees this grant is made up of County Commissioners, local business owners, medical professionals, parents, retirees, community investment specialists, and representatives of higher education. For funding purposes, the board prioritizes:
- Creating new classrooms to serve more children in early care and education settings.
- Supporting capacity and/or quality for existing programs.
- Implementing workforce development strategies to recruit and retain qualified teachers.
- Providing support services for children and families enrolled in early care and education programs.
- Enhancing the effectiveness of overall system of early care and education, including advocacy approaches.
Buncombe County established the Early Childhood Education and Development Fund in 2018 for the purpose of advancing the Commissioners’ strategic priorities. Moving forward with the County's 2020 strategic plan, early childhood development will now fall under the educated and capable community focus area. The purpose of the Early Childhood Education and Development Fund is to ensure that every child in Buncombe County has an equal opportunity to thrive during their first 2,000 days, including access to quality early childhood education. The fund was established in response to a well-documented local shortage of quality early childhood education programs, barriers that families face in accessing existing programs, including affordability, and a well-documented shortage of qualified teachers and staff in classrooms and centers.
- Dec. 16, 2019 - Applications open
- Jan. 18, 2020 – Grant writing workshop (optional for applicants)
- Feb. 14, 2010 – Applications due by 5 p.m.
- Feb. 17 – April 23, 2020 – Applications reviewed by committee
- April 24, 2020 – Committee funding recommendations due
- May 19, 2020 – Committee grant recommendations published with County Manager's budget message
- June 2, 2020 – Public hearing on the budget
- June 16, 2020 – Grant awards finalized with County budget adoption during Board of Commissioners' Meeting
Upcoming Community Engagement Session
There will also be an upcoming Community Engagement Session in regards to the Early Childhood Committee to share general updates about the fund and to gather feedback to help guide future direction. It will take place on Thursday, Jan. 9 from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center at 285 Livingston St., Asheville.
Otherwise, the Early Childhood Education Committee meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m. at 200 College St. in downtown Asheville. To learn more about the Early Childhood Education and Development grant or to apply, you can visit buncombecounty.org/grants. Just click on “Early Childhood Fund.”