The Community Foundation offers several grant programs available to local organizations through a competitive application process. The Foundation's Board of Directors allocates funds annually and accepts proposals during grant cycles throughout the year. Application deadlines and available funds are listed on our Dates & Dollars sheetGrant applications are available on our Applications page. We encourage heads of organizations to contact the Foundation's Director of Grants to discuss projects, proposals, or any questions related to the grant process. We are also happy to review applications well in advance of deadlines.


Unrestricted Grants

Unrestricted grants are awarded to fund a variety of projects of value to our community. Many Polk County organizations are eligible for grants to support capital expenses. Unrestricted grants fund clearly defined projects and programs that contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Our committee always enjoys learning more about the ways your organization uses its unique expertise to serve our community with beneficial programs and projects. Grant proposals are accepted from Polk County nonprofits and local governmental agencies who share the Foundation’s goal of improving the quality of life for all in our local community.

The Unrestricted Funds of the Polk County Community Foundation serve a particularly important purpose because they allow the Board of Directors the freedom to develop grantmaking programs and award grants to address the needs of the community as they change over time. Many generous citizens who value our community have contributed to the Foundation’s unrestricted grantmaking funds since 1975. Some donors choose to have named Unrestricted Funds and some choose to add their gifts or bequests to the general Unrestricted Fund.

There are many named funds that support Unrestricted Grants: the Lois Miner Barrick Fund, the Marjorie M. & Lawrence R. Bradley Endowment Fund of Polk County, North Carolina; the Merlin G. and Elenore W. Robertson Fund; the Williams Fund; the Book of Memory Fund; the Anonymous Fund and the general Unrestricted Fund. The Edward E. and Suzanne K. Plumly Fund, the Abie Proudfoot Memorial Fund, the Thomas J. Kofodimos Charitable Fund, the Elizabeth and Bailey Nager Foundation Fund, and the Samuel and Stephanie White Fund are permanent endowed funds created by generous donors who wished to make annual contributions to the Unrestricted Fund.

The Foundation is able to administer a robust unrestricted grantmaking program thanks to significant planned gifts from D. William Bennett, Margaret Bennett, Bertha B. Brown, Louis Buzek, Marjorie D. Creswell, John Lewis and Ramona H. Craddock, Paul Culberson, Marjorie Deobald, Harry and Dixie Evans, Dr. Frederick E. Whiskin, Paula St. George Joyce, Werner Mueller, Muriel G. Nash, Thomas H. Nash, Jr., Norman Newell, Edwena Lee Ongar, Lawrence Pexton, Allan Safford, Dorcas R. Sparr, Rebecca Underwood, Robert F. and Wanda E. Veh, Esther Wallace, and Henry (Hank) Welch.

Donations of all sizes become part of the general Unrestricted Fund when donors instruct the Community Foundation to use their donations “to help in any way” or “at the discretion of the Board.” Memorial gifts to the Community Foundation are added to the Book of Memory Fund, which is an Unrestricted Fund. Names are inscribed in the Community Foundation’s Book of Memory, which is displayed in our lobby.


Marjorie M. and Lawrence R. Bradley Endowment Fund of Polk County, NC

Mr. & Mrs. BradleyMr. & Mrs. Bradley


The late Mr. and Mrs. Bradley created the Marjorie M. & Lawrence R. Bradley Endowment Fund of Polk County, North Carolina in 2005, leaving virtually their entire estate for the benefit of Polk County. This generous bequest directed the Board of the Polk County Community Foundation to implement the Bradleys' dreams of providing charitable, education, medical and community benefits. There are several Bradley grant programs for the long-term benefit of the Polk County community. In addition to the Bradley Community Benefit Grants listed below, the Bradley Fund contributes to the annual distribution budget for Unrestricted Grants and provides college scholarships through funds named in their honor, such as the Bradley Puddin' Hill Awards and the Bradley Village Support Awards.


Bradley Breakthrough Community Benefit Grants

All Bradley Breakthrough Community Benefit Grants must significantly improve the quality of life of Polk County residents for generations. The Bradley Board seeks grantmaking opportunities which result in long-term impacts for our community as a whole and which may require a long-range view. Past grants have purchased and protected land for public benefit, including Alexander's Ford at Bradley Nature Preserve and a Bradley Nature Preserve in Saluda.


Bradley Planning and Studies for Breakthrough Benefits

Bradley Planning & Studies grants are intended to fund breakthrough initiatives, projects, and learning that have "game-changing" potential for Polk County. Grants may be awarded for models, studies, seed money, plan development, conferences, or other learning opportunities for staff and/or board members; all of which are intended to lead to a significant long-term benefit for our community as a whole. Past grants have enabled Polk County representatives to investigate innovative strategies and develop critical expertise for enhancing our community. For example, visits to New England agricultural sites funded by Bradley grants contributed to the creation of the Mill Spring Agricultural Development Center.

Bradley Emergency Land Conservation Grants

The Bradley Fund recently helped the Town of Tryon realize an opportunity to acquire Vaughn's Creek for a public park by providing needed local matching funds. If your organization has an unexpected opportunity to conserve land in Polk County, please contact the Community Foundation for more information.

Bradley Fund Board Initiative Grants

The Bradley Fund's Board has some discretionary funds to use outside of the normal grantmaking cycles for grants that result in significant long-term benefits for Polk County. Please contact the Community Foundation if your organization has a pressing or compelling situation which cannot be addressed by one of the many other grantmaking programs.


Student Intern Program

The Student Intern Program is an innovation of the Board of Directors to support summer employment opportunities that benefit both local youth and community agencies in our area. Grants provide for funding of the salary of the intern. Interns have run the lighting at the Tryon Fine Arts Center, helped run summer reading programs at the Polk County Library, cared for animals at the Foothills Humane Society, and assisted with food and client services at Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry.



The Funds described in this section were established by donors who wanted to make a difference in particular aspects of community life. The donors outlined specific criteria for eligibility and grants are awarded in accordance with their wishes. For application information, please visit the Applications page.

Dr. Bosien


Dr. William R. Bosien Fund

Established in 1981 to honor the life and work of Dr. Bosien who gave twenty-five years of dedicated service to this area as a surgeon who treated all, regardless of their ability to pay. Grants from this fund enhance the availability of medical care for patients unable to afford care. The fund also supports the continuing education of St. Luke's Hospital and local community health center staff and provides medical educational programs for the general public.





Paul Culberson

Paul Culberson Agricultural Development Fund

Established in 1991 to recognize Paul Culberson for his outstanding contributions to all areas of our community, this fund provides grants for the advancement of agriculture in our community. Past Culberson Agricultural grants have been awarded for community gardens, the Polk County School Farm, farmers markets and to establish Polk County as an American Viticultural Area.





Mary Kessler

Mary F. Kessler Fund

Mary Kessler's fond connection to the Tryon and Landrum communities and her desire to have a permanent philanthropic role in them led her to create this generous endowment fund. Kessler grants support projects in Tryon and Landrum that result in physical and scenic improvements, development, or beautification, as well as those with cultural, intellectual, and educational benefits. Past Kessler awards have funded the Children's Theater Festival's "Super Saturday," planting noble trees at Harmon Field, restoration of the historic Landrum Railroad Depot as a performance venue, and O.P. Earle Elementary School's Community Arts Evenings, which involved local artists in the arts education of its students and the public.





Twin Lakes

Saluda Community Fund

An anonymous donor who loves Saluda established this competitive grant fund in 2006 to benefit Saluda organizations that are serving the residents of Saluda. Past grants have been awarded to support community events such as The Saluda Art and Music Festival, public gatherings at Twin Lakes, and summer reading programs. Saluda Community Fund awards have also funded roof repairs for the Saluda Medical Center, kudzu eradication projects, walking paths, and other beautification initiatives.



community-matters-pccf-seal transparentEVENT GRANTS

When neighbors gather together to listen to music, cheer on a parade, or play soccer with kids their own age, it helps build community in ways small and large. In addition to Unrestricted Grants for large-scale events, the Community Foundation offers several ways for community members to connect with one another through the simple act of showing up. All funded events are free to the public. Several of these funds are part of the Kirby Endowment Fund. One of the charitable dreams of the Kirby family is to provide edification and enjoyment to area residents of all ages and walks of life. For application information, please visit the Applications page.


Free Community Events

The Community Foundation is pleased to offer grants for free community events, an initiative of the Foundation's Board of Directors to support face to face social interactions that build community in ways small and large. Gatherings funded by these grants are intended to benefit residents who have chosen to make this community their home, to give people an excuse to strike up a conversation and get to know your neighbors. Past grants have funded free entertainment at the Upstairs Artspace, heart-healthy banquets in Green Creek, programs for children and Shakespeare fans at the Polk County Public Library, and a Play Day for children and families in Saluda. All events are 100% free.
We encourage applicants to consider incorporating one or more of the following into your project (not required):

  • Developing or sharing a common interest
    Healthy living emphasis, such as local and/or healthy food
  • Physical activities
  • The use of public gathering spots, such as parks, libraries, and schools
  • Events that bring teogether local people from diverse demographic backgrounds around a common interest or passion


Dave Kirby

Kirby Civic Events Fund

This grant is to be awarded by the Community Foundation to one or more community organizations in support of enjoyable civic events in the Tryon area. These civic events must be free to the public. Past grants have fully funded events such as the "Do-It-Yourself Messiah" and programs honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kirby Harmon Field Fund

This grant is to be used in support of sports and recreational activities oriented toward the development of teamwork and good citizenship among the youth in the area. The events must be free to the public. Materials and minor capital improvements may be part of the fund request, if they are part of the activity. This fund has supported a series of free tennis clinics for area youth and the "Kirby Cup," a free soccer camp held annually at Harmon Field.

Kirby Rogers Park Innovative Events Fund

This grant is to be used in support of entertaining, educational, and innovative events at the Gibbs Amphitheater at Rogers Park. The events must be free to the public unless donations or admissions charges are used to help pay for the event and all revenues collected in excess of expenses are returned to the Rogers Park Fund. Past Rogers Park grants have funded theatrical performances, a Mark Twain impersonator, interactive events for children with musicians such as acclaimed "industrial re-percussionist" Billy Jonas, and community concerts ranging from gospel to chamber music.




The resources listed below were innovations of the Board of Directors of the Polk County Community Foundation and were designed to increase the efficiency, strength, and expertise of local organizations. In offering these grants and our resource library, the Foundation seeks to increase the capacity of organizations to fulfill their missions and positively impact our community for years to come. We are always interested in speaking with organizations about opportunities to meet our shared goal of improving the quality of life in our community. Please contact us to begin the conversation. For application information, please visit the Applications page.


AmeriCorps & Other Service Program Positions

A new grant program was launched in 2015 to help organizations hire AmeriCorps members or other federally-funded services positions with similar goals. Organizations may apply for these grants through the Foundation's Unrestricted Grants process.


Organizational Strengthening & Board Planning Grants

The Community Foundation offers competitive grants to assist local charitable organizations with strategic planning and Board retreats leading to long-term sustainability.


Grantwriting for Public Safety Organizations

The Board of Polk County Community Foundation dedicates funds to help local public safety organizations enhance their expertise in grantwriting and learn more about non-local grants that are available to fund equipment and training for public safety organizations.


N.C. Center for Nonprofits: Membership Grants

The Community Foundation provides grants to enable our local nonprofits to join the Center. The grant amount is the amount owed for your organization's dues for your first year of membership. More information about the N.C. Center for nonprofits may be found by visiting their website, here.


Nonprofit Resource Library

The Community Foundation maintains a resource library of books and other publications regarding issues of interest to nonprofits. Visit us to learn more.