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Dogwood Health Trust Announces Economic Opportunity Request For Proposals

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Grants to CDFIs and non-traditional lenders will support their ability to provide capital to under-served entrepreneurs.

Asheville, N.C. – Dogwood Health Trust has announced a new request for proposals from non-profit, non-traditional small business lenders, such as Community Development Financial Institutions, revolving loan funds, Economic Development Corporations, and similar lenders that serve the 18 counties of Western North Carolina, including the Qualla Boundary. The application will be posted on March 28 and responses are due by 5:00 pm on May 16, 2022. Award notifications will be made by the end of July 2022 with funds being distributed in September 2022. Organizations that wish to learn more or apply are encouraged to attend one of two virtual information sessions: March 29 and April 20, both at 12:00 pm. To register, visit Dogwood’s Economic Opportunity webpage.

With this special program, Accelerating Capital to Under-fueled Entrepreneurs, Dogwood seeks to bolster capital and technical assistance deployment to entrepreneurs of color and rural entrepreneurs.“We know that small businesses are a main driver of jobs in our economy, and that access to capital and knowledge are key to creating and growing a successful small business,” said Sarah Thompson, VP of Impact-Economic Opportunity at Dogwood Health Trust. “Currently, there are too few avenues for entrepreneurs of color and those in rural communities to access that needed capital and knowledge. We are excited to work with organizations who understand the needs of their community’s entrepreneurs, and the importance of investing in them.”

To support “under-fueled entrepreneurs,” meaning entrepreneurs who are under-served or marginalized with traditional funding sources, Dogwood will award grants to non-traditional lenders, ranging from $150,000 to $750,000. These non-traditional lenders will, in turn, serve entrepreneurs of color and rural entrepreneurs in ways that are most impactful to start and expand their small businesses as well as create and retain quality jobs.

Priority will be given to proposals that promote:

  • The increase of non-traditional lending to under-fueled entrepreneurs.
  • The capacity building of non-traditional lenders to deploy capital and development services to under-fueled entrepreneurs in a lasting and enduring manner.
  • The readiness of under-fueled entrepreneurs in accessing capital.
  • The success of under-fueled entrepreneurs through training programs or access to capital.
  • The improvement and transformation of systems for how under-fueled entrepreneurs access capital and development services.
  • The catalyzation of additional federal, state, local, and private capital to serve under-fueled entrepreneurs.

“As Dogwood shared when launching its four Strategic Priorities, our 2022 Community Investment Strategy will include these types of targeted requests for proposal opportunities,” said Dr. Susan Mims, CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. “This type of investment is a key strategy for Dogwood to coalesce partners for deeper impact — in this case an infusion of capital for projects that are typically difficult to fund but will accelerate entrepreneurism in our rural and communities of color.”

Organizations that wish to learn more or apply may visit Dogwood’s website. For questions, please contact Moriah Dean, Impact Associate for Economic Opportunity.

About Dogwood Health Trust

Dogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellness, with a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity, and access to care and health resources. Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. To learn more, please visit


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Health & Wellness | Goal 4

Increase Access to Behavioral Health and Substance Use Prevention and Treatment

Support programs and networks that reduce deaths, treat addiction, and prevent first use

Objective 4.1: Reduce opioid overdose mortality throughout the region

Objective 4.2: Reduce untreated behavioral health and substance use disorder in disproportionately affected communities

Objective 4.3: Prevent and reduce behavioral health issues and substance use (tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs) in youth

Health & Wellness | Goal 3

Address Health Disparities

Help reduce disparities based on race, location, education and income factors

Objective 3.1: Improve health outcomes for women and infants in rural and low-income communities and communities of color

Objective 3.2: Reduce the prevalence of common chronic health diseases in disproportionately affected communities

Objective 3.3: Increase effectiveness of health care through delivery of culturally aligned services

Health & Wellness | Goal 2

Increase Access to Whole-Person Health Care

Invest in integrated heath care with seamless connections to supportive services

Objective 2.1: Increase the number of people with affordable health insurance coverage

Objective 2.2: Increase the available workforce for primary and allied health care services

Objective 2.3: Increase access to comprehensive and integrated care

Objective 2.4: Increase access to community-based services in low-income, elderly and rural communities

Health & Wellness | Goal 1

Support and Build Healthy Communities

Support communities that promote healthy living and resiliency and help mitigate the impact of trauma, isolation and stress on individuals and families, especially those experiencing poverty

Objective 1.1: Decrease adverse experiences (ACEs and traumatic violence) and improve individual and family resiliency

Objective 1.2: Increase access to community environments that promote healthy living and social connectedness across the age continuum

Economic Opportunity | Goal 4

Foster Entrepreneurship

Support a well-funded, sustainable, competitive entrepreneur and small business ecosystem throughout the region

Objective 4.1: Increase the number of Person of Color (POC)-led small businesses throughout the region

Objective 4.2: Increase the number of rural small businesses throughout the region

Economic Opportunity | Goal 3

Build Economic Ecosystems

Help build a regional economic ecosystem that supports increased creation/retention of jobs and business ownership

Objective 3.1: Improve access to higher-paying jobs throughout the region, targeting the lowest income populations

Objective 3.2: Increase and retain quality jobs

Objective 3.3: Stimulate economic growth, catalyzing businesses and revenue

Economic Opportunity | Goal 2

Promote Work Readiness

Help build a skilled workforce with the knowledge and technical abilities to excel in a wide range of industry employment opportunities that provide a competitive, sustainable wage

Objective 2.1: Close the educational attainment gap in WNC, staying on pace with regional and county-specific projections (myFutureNC 2030).

Economic Opportunity | Goal 1

Develop a Comprehensive Data Resource

Source, analyze and share a comprehensive, county-by-county data set that paints a full picture of work readiness, economic development and entrepreneurial needs and opportunities specific to Western North Carolina

Education | Goal 3

Support Higher Education Career Readiness

Work in tandem with Economic Opportunity Strategic Priority to invest in career readiness at the community college and university levels

Objective 4.1: Close the educational attainment gap in WNC, staying on pace with regional and county-specific projections (myFutureNC 2030).

Education | Goal 2

Improve K-12 Education

Support K-12 learning experiences with the resources and sustainability to provide an excellent academic and social-emotional education, so that all students graduate ready for college or career

Objective 2.1: Address teacher workforce challenges

Objective 2.2: Equip families of students to support academic growth and social-emotional health

Objective 2.3: Increase capacity of partners to provide supports and services, particularly for children facing challenges related to poverty, systemic racism, being differently abled or English language learners

Education | Goal 1

Improve Early Childhood Education Ecosystem

Invest in an improved early childhood education ecosystem with the resources and sustainability to provide developmentally appropriate, affordable and accessible education and care to support ages birth to five, so that all children in WNC enter kindergarten ready to learn

Objective: Address early childhood educator workforce challenges

Education | Goal 4

Develop a Comprehensive Landscape Study

Source, analyze and share a comprehensive set of publicly available data that provides a regularly updated, county-by-county picture of access, workforce and student outcomes in early childhood education and K-12 education specific to Western North Carolina

Housing | Goal 5

Use Impact Investments to Create Affordable and Workforce Housing

Loans, guarantees, and other financial tools to leverage funding opportunities

Housing | Goal 4

Create and Preserve Housing Units for Persons Below 50% of the Median Income

Increase affordable housing for lowest-income individuals and families

Objective 4.1: Create rental units for households below 50% of the median income

Objective 4.2: Help families pay no more than 30% of their income on housing

Objective 4.3: Create and preserve communities in a way that is representative of the WNC natural landscape

Housing | Goal 3

Create and Preserve Senior Housing

Support age-appropriate resources in affordable and workforce units, rental and owned

Objective 3.1: Create needed rental and homeownership opportunities for seniors

Objective 3.2: Incorporate supportive services in rental housing developments

Objective 3.3: Increase use of universal design in development

Housing | Goal 2

Create and Preserve Supportive Housing Rental Units

Invest in housing with sustainable supports for physical and mental health and wellbeing

Objective 2.1: Create new supportive housing

Objective 2.2: Preserve existing supportive housing

Objective 2.3: Leverage state and federal funds

Single story home in the midst of being build with 3 volunteers helping.

Housing | Goal 1

Support Healthy and Safe Revitalization Opportunities

Support healthy and safe revitalizations that work against displacement and gentrification, preserve home ownership and create generational wealth.

Objective 1.1: Revitalize Neighborhoods

Objective 1.2: Repurpose existing structures to minimize environmental impact

Objective 1.3: Support home ownership