ECPPS, NEAAT, River City CDC still in running for LEAF grants

Sparty Hammett Pasquotank Manager

By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Educational and workforce development groups in Pasquotank County are still in the running for up to $1.5 million in grants from the Golden LEAF Foundation, County Manager Sparty Hammett reported this week.

Earlier this month, Hammett said three of the four applicants the county endorsed for Golden LEAF’s Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative are now eligible to submit full applications. Hammett said he based that information on an update he received from the Rocky Mount-based nonprofit's senior vice president, Mark Sorrells.

The three applicants are the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools, the Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies, and River City Community Development Corp. College of The Albemarle’s application was eliminated from consideration.

Hammett said Monday he didn't know why Golden LEAF selected the three applications over COA’s for more review. He and county commissioners helped screen the grant applicants following agency presentations in August, but he said he's out of that process now.

Pasquotank commissioners recommended each applicant seek a grant of $500,000 from Golden LEAF.

ECPPS has proposed buying more classroom technology to teach middle-school students about more kinds of careers in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. ECPPS also proposed using $50,000 of its grant to hire a STEM program coordinator.

NEAAAT has similarly proposed buying classroom and lab equipment, purchases the charter school says will help it relocate from Elizabeth City State University to property behind the storefronts at Southgate Park. NEAAAT also proposes hiring a business liaison/career coach.

River City CDC has proposed renovating the former Sonic building on Ehringhaus Street to create a training hub to help adult learners become plumbers and landscapers.

In its grant application, COA had proposed numerous facility renovations, including new labs for its information technology and electronics programs; creating classroom space for a new agribusiness program; and repurposing the Butler building to house its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning program.

COA officials could not be reached for comment Monday on how Golden LEAF's rejection affect plans for the work. Absent another funding source, COA might look to Pasquotank County to fund the projects in future years.

Notably, ECSU, in an effort to boost its unmanned aerial systems program, had asked commissioners to support its project to build a contained space for flying drones. Hammett said at the time, however, that Golden LEAF wasn't likely to fund the project, so Pasquotank commissioners didn't endorse it.

According to Golden LEAF’s website, the Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative is open to 16 northeastern counties, and grants will be awarded to projects that advance priorities including economic development, workforce development, and infrastructure.

The website also states Golden LEAF will award no more than $1.5 million per county. Golden LEAF has a total of $11 million to disburse, according to Hammett.