If you’ve been following along, you know we’re in the middle of our first grant initiative – The UnFundable Project. 

In October, to mark our upcoming 10th anniversary, we invited Mecklenburg County nonprofits to apply for a $10,000 grant for a project that typically would be considered “unfundable.” We were thrilled to have 44 applicants, including some organizations that even we weren’t familiar with! 

The Review Process

The Next Stage team reviewed the applications individually and then discussed each project as a group. Projects were graded on a rubric that covered these topics:

  • Innovation
  • Justification
  • Relationship to Organizational Strategic Vision and/or Community’s Goals
  • Feasibility
  • Efficiency of Tactic/Approach
  • Sustainability

We were inspired – and felt our heartstrings pulled – by so much of what we read. We’re so proud to work in a city that’s eager to do so much good. The voting was very close but today we are excited to share the top 10 finalists (listed below in alphabetical order) who are moving on to the panel review phase.

Congratulations to these organizations:

Caroline Calouche & Co – Pay off a credit card that was used to repair a sprung dance floor that was damaged by mold.

Catawba Riverkeeper – Hire a project-based data manager to audit and modernize systems to build a public-facing dashboard that shares water quality measurements with the public.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool – Translate and validate the transcripts/credentials of 25-40 participants in the Workforce Development Program.

Latin American Coalition – Plan, build and maintain a community garden to foster intergenerational connections in the Latino/a/x community.

Lorien Academy of the Arts – Replace the original windows in their space (a church built in the 1960s).

McColl Center – Contract an artist to document McColl Center’s work in photos and videos.

Metrolina Association for the Blind, Inc – Update the website to meet WCAG standards.

Mind Body Baby NC – Provide free, evidence-based videos that break down common perinatal challenges. 

The Frankie Mae Foundation – Provide a safe, judgment-free space to support family caregivers.

UrbanPromise Charlotte – Grow and enhance staff professional development and training.

As you can see, there was a wide range of projects submitted. We’re learning so much from this process, including that nonprofits need many things that are being excluded from typical funder priorities. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, trust-based philanthropy is important now, and it’s the future way of working.

What’s Next

Our stellar panel will complete the same process as our team – reviewing the 10 finalists individually, and then gather in person in January to discuss the results. They will decide who will receive the grant money, which we’ll announce at our celebration event on February 8 (save the date!).

Thank you again to everyone who applied!