Positive impacts

What is the mission of your organization?

What is your organization's newest initiative?

Why did you choose to take on this initiative?

How will it positively impact Western North Carolina?

Women's Wellbeing and Development Foundation

Mission: Empower women and children to achieve personal growth and comprehensive development of their communities.

WWD-F supports local and international women-run projects and creates model programs in the areas of education, health and economic development. The Healthy Living Program is our newest initiative. The Healthy Living Program is empowerment-based community organizing within Asheville's public housing neighborhoods, working with residents of public housing to organize free ongoing classes, hiking series, workshops, events, a Community Resource Center, leadership development, advocacy and participation in a variety of citywide initiatives affecting the quality of life in public housing.

WWD-F sees that people living with poverty in our city experience isolation and a general disparity in access to opportunities, compared with their wealthier counterparts. We are working to bring social justice and real, positive change at a local level, so that communities experiencing a concentration of poverty are empowered to lead the lives and build the communities in which they would like to live.

As more communities and individuals who have been experiencing marginalization step into their power, and more of the general populace works together to ensure that every human being in our community has equal rights and access to opportunities, our region becomes stronger and more cooperative — a place in which we truly take care of each other, ensuring that no one is left behind and that everyone thrives.

Asheville City Schools Foundation

Mission: To promote the success of all students in the Asheville City Schools by mobilizing the community to support teachers, students and their families.

Our newest initiative is engaging the community in creating exciting and relevant uses of technology in our schools at all grade levels. On Jan. 24, we invite the community to tour our schools and dialogue with school leaders on how we can apply cutting-edge applications of technology in the classroom.

Asheville has a wealth of folks working with advanced and creative applications of technology. We want to tap into this expertise and provide opportunities for children and teachers to learn from the community about innovations and careers using technology. Through this community partnership, the ACSF will support all kinds of creative learning opportunities with technology for students K-12, and professional learning for teachers.

These projects will enhance innovation and technology access in our classrooms and can be replicated in schools throughout WNC.

The Mountain Area Child and Family Center

Mission: To provide an early learning program of distinction in which young children thrive, families flourish and early childhood professionals excel. We accomplish this mission through high-quality education services, comprehensive family support, health and nutrition services, and teacher education.

This year, parents in our home-based program are earning "MACFC money" by participating in weekly home visits with their child's teacher and attending Play & Learn events. In December, we will host a Family Store, where they can use the money they've earned to purchase clothes, books and other necessities for their children and themselves.

Over 70 percent of the children we serve come from low-income families. In addition, research shows that children are most successful in school when their families are engaged and active participants in their education. The Family Store addresses both of these factors by rewarding parents for their participation while providing them with needed items and supplies.

We serve almost 200 children and their families in Buncombe County each year. Through this initiative and all of our work, we are creating a culture where early childhood education is valued, where opportunities are offered to all children regardless of their economic situation, and where families are fully engaged in helping their children succeed.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

Mission: To preserve and continue the unique legacy of educational and artistic innovation of Black Mountain College for public study and enjoyment. We achieve our mission through collection, conservation and educational activities, including exhibitions, publications and public programs.

The newest initiative is a publication, The Anthology of Black Mountain College Poetry.

There are many overlooked poets who emerged from Black Mountain College. Our goal is to recognize them, acknowledge their work and reinforce their association with the college.

We believe this publication will be a new and valuable contribution to the rich history of Black Mountain College and its place in literary history. We think it will be useful to students, scholars, writers of all kinds and lovers of poetry in WNC and worldwide.

Western North Carolina Alliance

Mission: To empower citizens to be advocates for livable communities and the natural environment of Western North Carolina.

WNCA is a proud founding member of the Asheville Beyond Coal coalition, a group of organizations/individuals working to build a clean energy future for WNC, transition Asheville off our reliance on power from the Asheville coal-fired power plant, and eliminate coal pollution from our air and water.

The Asheville coal-fired power plant is the largest single source of CO2 pollution in WNC. Coal burning is responsible for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions — the air pollution that is the main contributor to climate disruption. Here in WNC, we're at risk of losing precious ecosystems and suffering from increasingly strong storms and public health risks due to smog pollution, which triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.

Through our work with Asheville Beyond Coal, WNCA seeks to:
• Lead a transition from the use of fossil fuel energy to a reliance on clean, safe and renewable energy sources.
• Make energy conservation and efficiency a priority in reducing energy demand in WNC.
• Replace jobs dependent on fossil fuels with jobs centered on conservation, efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
• Secure retirement of the Asheville coal-fired power plant and the cleanup of any legacy pollution, including the coal ash lagoons.

Asheville Jewish Community Center

Mission: To strengthen Jewish identity, celebrate Jewish culture and build community.

We actually have two exciting new initiatives. In our JCC Kids After School program, we recently launched Growing Minds, which encourages children to identify their unique interest areas and supports them in more fully exploring those topics. We also recently received a grant from the BJH Foundation to develop a JCC Mitzvah Corps. This program will channel the energy, talent and commitment of Jewish adults ages 50 and older into addressing issues and needs in our community through volunteerism.

We like to think of our JCC Kids program as each child's "Jewish home away from home," and we are always seeking ways to express and teach universal values through a Jewish focus. Growing Minds encourages children to think for themselves and learn through asking, while empowering them to reach out into the world as respected participants. Our JCC Mitzvah Corps was born out of the recognition that so many talented and highly skilled people are retiring in our community.

The Asheville JCC seeks to positively impact WNC through all of our community-building, service and educational programs. We welcome all to participate in learning, celebrating and forming greater understanding.

Council on Aging of Buncombe County

Mission: Promoting independence, dignity and wellness for older adults through education, innovative programs and coordination of resources.

COA is one of six members of a consortium providing trained navigators, community outreach and educational efforts to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The program is funded through a federal grant under Community Care of North Carolina.

Our education/outreach and counseling assistance for Medicare brings us into contact with many people in their 50s and up to Medicare enrollment age (65) who have lost insurance or who did not qualify due to pre-existing conditions, as well as many who have insufficient or no health insurance to help cover costs.

Studies show that people without health insurance generally have poorer health, as they are unable to access medical care. Helping people enroll in health insurance enables them to improve their health as they gain access to medical treatments, preventive care and medications not previously available.

YMI Cultural Center

Mission: In celebration of and with respect for people of all ethnicities, the YMI Cultural Center promotes interculturalism and the preservation of cultural identity. "We celebrate culture."

Our newest initiative is helping low-income individuals as an IRS-approved Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location. We are expanding the service in 2014 to include asset management.

There is a need to accommodate folks who are not accessing this service for various reasons. These individuals may need assistance in navigating the language they encounter on the forms. We help them have a successful experience while offering a convenient location and hours of operation.

This service will impact WNC by providing an additional resource to those in need of such assistance.

Pisgah Legal Services

Mission: To pursue justice by providing legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina meet their basic needs and improve their lives.

Pisgah Legal Services' newest initiative is its Health Insurance Navigator Project. Trained and certified staff and volunteer navigators help people in six WNC counties evaluate their options for health insurance and cost-reducing resources, and enroll in a plan through the new health insurance marketplace.

Pisgah Legal Services works to address the root causes of poverty with our clients, many of whom have become or remain poor due to health problems and the lack of insurance. Adequate health care and health insurance are essential to tackling broader issues of poverty.

By helping Western North Carolinians navigate the new health insurance resources available through the Affordable Care Act, we hope that thousands of individuals will gain both better health and improved financial stability. If more WNC residents have health care, especially preventive and primary care, it will positively impact our region’s health care providers. With better health care options in our region, local governments, nonprofits and taxpayers will also benefit, as the need for other costly services will be reduced.

Eagle Market Streets Development Corp.

Mission: To develop people, property and businesses, and to envision social justice and growth for all. We strive to develop a cooperative and collaborative environment that fosters local, regional and global healthy, sustainable communities.

One of our newest initiatives is a workforce development program, Block-by-Block Industries, which seeks to train and develop individuals in the skill/trade of commercial sewing. Block-by-Block has been in operation since 2012, with a focus on sewing "heavy needle" (i.e., totes, bags, leather and fiber products).

EMSDC took on this initiative as a sustainability measure. Like many other nonprofits, we have been acutely aware of the need to diversify our funding streams and had been searching for ways to do this since 2004. In late 2011, an EMSDC business-development participant brought forward the concept of starting a commercial sewing center. We reached out to an old partner, KemperStrategy Inc., who introduced us to MARC, and a wonderful public/private collaborative ensued. To date, this initiative has been an integral function of EMSDC's operating and program budget.

The most significant impact of Block-by-Block Industries on WNC is job creation. Additionally, it furthers our mission of building healthy, sustainable communities where individuals are empowered to be economic contributors.

Self-Help Credit Union

Mission: To build and protect wealth and economic opportunity for all, especially minorities, women, rural and low-income people.

Launched this year, the Go Local Certificate of Deposit grew out of a partnership with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance, which funds our lending to business and residential loans in Western North Carolina.

A healthy and resilient local economy is an important part of economic development.

These CDs will help us do more local lending and have a positive impact on our targeted, mission-related borrowers.

Arts For Life

Mission: Supporting children and families facing serious illnesses and disabilities. By providing educational art programs, we enrich patients’ lives, nurture their minds and spirits and encourage positive health care experiences for children and their families.

In addition to the successful visual-arts, music, and creative-writing lessons we provide to patients and families at Mission Children's Hospital, we're launching a digital-arts initiative next year with a focus on storytelling.

In a world where kids fluently speak the language of YouTube, iPads and Facebook, introducing technology and digital media into our arts programs will allow us to meet kids and families where they are and help them learn more about what they're interested in.

Arts For Life's programs decrease patient stress and anxiety, keep kids active and engaged in life and help families cope with the realities of illness. For children and families battling cancer and other serious illnesses and disabilities in WNC, support from the community makes a world of difference.


Mission: In the pursuit of a community free of sexual violence, Our VOICE serves all individuals in Buncombe County affected by sexual assault and abuse, through counseling, advocacy and education.

Our newest initiative is the Teen Tech Safety Program, which aims to address the problem of teen sexting and posting sexually suggestive photos on social media sites.

The project will educate teens about the short- and long-term consequences of those practices through presentations at middle and high schools. A separate component is geared toward educating parents on current technology and how to speak with their children regarding sexting/posting sexually explicit photos on social media sites.

The Teen Safety project will help local teens use their cell phones and social media accounts more wisely and responsibly. We want to educate teens on how these risky behaviors can impact almost every aspect of their lives, including economic stability and upward mobility. In addition, we want to open up dialogue between parents and teens around the unintended consequences of sexting/posting sexually explicit photos.

Open Hearts Art Center

Mission: Serving individuals with a variety of challenges including, but not limited to, developmental, mental, physical and emotional disabilities through a variety of creative techniques.

The Boundless Art Program aims to connect our very special artists with the local arts community of Asheville, and to make sure that the resources and opportunities available to them are as boundless as those any other budding artist can access.

Although there was great stuff going on in our day program — great classes being taught, great work being produced, great relationships forming — it was all happening in isolation. We decided that the Asheville arts scene needs to know what’s going on in our building, and to meet the 40-plus artists who are doing incredibly bold work.

The Boundless Art Program seeks to level the playing field for our artists, giving them the exact same opportunities that anyone in this city has to make a living through their artworks, talents and skills. We are teaching them to endorse, advocate and market themselves. Contributing valuable products and services to our community, society and families is part of what makes a person well, sound-minded and whole. We believe this is everyone’s right.

Veterans Helping Veterans

Mission: helping veterans successfully reintegrate into society as productive members of their community. We work within the community to aid veterans who may be homeless, jobless or suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and we provide food and financial aid to veterans’ families. In partnership with the U.S. Veterans Administration, we assist homeless veterans in securing permanent housing and provide them with a stable, safe living situation. We will continue our efforts to ensure that no veteran is left behind.

Our latest initiative is developing a sustainable community on three acres in West Asheville for local veterans. It's a sustainable community because we generate our own power through solar, our own food through aquaponics and our own health care via holistic healing. We’re fundraising for the project this holiday season, with a kiosk at the Asheville Mall.

Through the process of transitioning back into civilian life, Matthew Shepley, a U.S. Marine and our executive director, realized how much more support — outside of the VA system — is needed for returning vets. In Asheville alone, we have between 200 and 300 men and women who have served, whose living situation is day-to-day. Our community model is a comprehensive approach to meeting these needs, [which will have a positive impact] by expanding housing and job training options for for returning vets.

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