Conference Center

The Co|Operative and Impact Alamance Fund $30,000 for Community Innovation

GRAHAM — Impact Alamance and the Cooperative awarded $30,000 in grants from what they are calling the Community Innovation Fund to five projects ranging from a branding campaign for county products to compost for school kids.

“A couple of these are already underway,” said Chelsea Dickey, director of community development for the Cooperative. “We’re thinking they’re going to kick off in the spring.”

Impact Alamance made a $100,000 grant in August to the Cooperative in Graham intended for distribution through smaller grants for downtown and community revitalization projects around Alamance County.

Grant breakdown

The committee reviewing nine grant applications chose:

    • $8,000 for “Authentically Alamance County” — a branding campaign for local products already underway;
    • $6,500 for compost at Alexander Wilson Elementary School — a project to teach children about sustainable food production by having each grade grow vegetables in its own raised bed and compete for the best plants and produce;
    • $6,000 for gear-shaped bike racks to be made by Eliot Irwin, a local artist and welder, and placed around downtown Graham to encourage cycling for exercise and transportation;
    • $5,500 for “My Story, My Flag” — a public art project for downtown Graham in which an artist will lead a workshop to design and make flags to display downtown; and
    • $4,000 for “Love Graham” — a cooperative effort of local businesses and Graham residents to spread that message and a symbol on stickers and other media to stoke community pride.

Local food brand

Ann Meletzke, executive director of Healthy Alamance, is heading up the Authentically Alamance County campaign. She said she worked with a class at Elon University to design the logo last year, and the grant would take the project to its second phase of creating packets with stickers with the logo, and advice on how best to use it for local businesses, and holding an event for businesses to get them on board, which she hopes to do in early spring.

“We’ll definitely be looking for restaurants and businesses that sell food, or grocery stores that feature local foods — our goal is to highlight businesses that already feature products from the community, and we’ll expand from there,” Meletzke said. “I think it could go beyond food, but that is the purpose of the brand.”

The Cooperative will be a partner in all the grant-funded projects. Those projects will have to bring “concrete and tangible” benefits to people in Alamance County, and the fund will not support projects that benefit just one organization. They should be designed to expand or be repeated if successful.

While it’s similar to the start-up process, start-up companies and for-profit businesses are not eligible for grants, and neither are individuals, or religious or political organizations.

Impact Alamance, Cooperative

The Cooperative, according to its website, is an entrepreneurial organization aimed at getting people and groups to work together to spur innovation. It also has a co-working space in downtown Graham.

Reporter Isaac Groves can be reached at or 336-506-3045. Follow him on Twitter at @tnigroves.