Community Foundation Announces Availability of COVID-19 Grants

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has announced several actions to support the Outer Banks through the Coronaviris crisis.

Specifically, the Community Foundation has initiated a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants Program, including its first grant to provide home internet access to every student in the Dare County School System. The Community Foundation has also extended its online scholarship application deadline by one week, to March 29, to allow students with disrupted internet access ample opportunity to apply.

According to Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director, while there has yet to be a confirmed local case of COVID-19, the Outer Banks — and especially the local nonprofit sector — has been deeply affected by the crisis.

“Local closures and cancellations are profoundly impacting businesses, students, and families,” said Ms. Costa, “and our nonprofits are leading the community response, working to continue, adapt, and even expand their programs to help residents through this tumultuous time.”

Nonprofits are already increasing their financial, educational, and nutritional assistance programs, she said, to families affected by community closures — while protecting their own volunteers, employees, and clients from potential exposure.

“Should the COVID-19 virus spread to the Outer Banks, our nonprofit community will really be on the front lines, providing medical services, food, and critical care for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Ms. Costa.

To support local charitable programs as they evolve, the Community Foundation has initiated the COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants Program, which will help nonprofits provide vital services to the Outer Banks through the Coronavirus crisis. Those services could include child care, elder care, medical care, emergency response services, financial assistance to people out of work, nutritional assistance, and beyond. Grant requests will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed every two weeks to ensure quick decisions and timely programs.

The first Rapid Response Grant has already been announced: $4,500 to the Dare Education Foundation, in partnership with Dare County Schools, to provide home internet access to under-resourced families with school-age children who don’t already have home wi-fi.

To apply for a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant, nonprofits are encouraged to first call the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839 to discuss their programs, their contingency plans, and their funding needs. To be eligible for a Rapid Response Grant, programs must be related to the COVID-19 crisis, either directly (e.g., care for patients) or indirectly (e.g., assistance to workers without child care). Requests can be submitted via a one- or two-page letter, briefly describing the nonprofit’s mission, the project at hand, the dollar amount requested, the local need it would meet, and the beneficiaries of the proposed program. Complete instructions are online at

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues, with funding decisions every two weeks. To be considered in the first round, applications must be received by 5:00 pm on Thursday, March 19, for a decision on Friday, March 20. The second round application deadline is 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 2, with decisions announced on Friday, April 3. Subsequent deadlines and guidelines will be announced as local needs evolve.

“For our first COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant, we were honored for the opportunity to partner with the Dare Education Foundation and the Dare County Schools,” said Ms. Costa. “This grant will ensure that every child in Dare County has online access to participate in the Dare County Schools’ new Remote Learning program, which commences on March 23 through school closures.”

The grant will also ensure that graduating seniors have home internet access to apply online for college, for scholarships, and/or for employment. To give equal opportunity to all scholarship seekers, the Community Foundation extended its own scholarship deadline by one week, to Sunday, March 29. The extra week will make certain that all students have internet access at home in order to apply, through the aforementioned program.

The Community Foundation administers 55 scholarship programs and expects to award $173,000 this year in scholarships. Students may apply online by clicking here.

Community Foundation Statement on Coronavirus

Like so many members of our community, the staff and board of the Outer Banks Community Foundation are closely monitoring COVID-19. Internally, we are taking necessary steps in our office and business affairs to limit the potential for spreading any illness, and for protecting the health and safety of our employees, visitors, and constituents.

Just as important, our thoughts turn to our neighbors, both here and afar.

Your Community Foundation is ready to support the Outer Banks if and when local needs arise. This is an uncertain time, and we are working to connect with our nonprofit partners to learn of their contingency plans, to encourage local readiness, and to ascertain local needs as they begin to surface and evolve.

Should the Coronavirus spread to the Outer Banks, our nonprofit community will doubtless be on the front lines of the outbreak, providing medical services, nutritional assistance, financial support to people in need, and critical care for our most vulnerable neighbors. As ever, your Community Foundation will be here to help.

If your nonprofit has special needs related to the outbreak, contingency plans to share, or concerns for our community, please call our Executive Director, Lorelei Costa, at 252-261-8839. We want to hear from you.

We also recommend this page of relevant state, national and international links and resources, compiled by the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits:

Our prayers are with our friends across North Carolina, the United States, and the World.

Lorelei Costa with Dare County Board of Commissioners

Executive Director Lorelei Costa presented to the Dare County Board of Commissioners on Monday, March 2 to share an update on Hurricane Dorian Relief and the Community Foundation’s Vision 2020 Grants. Chairman Bob Woodward gives an introduction at 2:38 minutes into this video; at 33:30 minutes, Lorelei gives a brief update on where the Community Foundation’s disaster relief funding has been applied, to date, and announces the Vision 2020 Grants Program—the result of an anonymous, six-figure donation that will be used to move the needle on a significant, pressing, and current community need. Application for Vision 2020 will be released on Monday, March 23.


Community Foundation Now Accepting Scholarship Applications

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications online. As a response to the growing concerns and procedural changes in our local schools due to COVID-19 the NEW Scholarship application deadline for students & student recommendations is Sunday, March 29, 2020 11:59 PM EDT. We have 55 different scholarships available, and about $173,000 to give away this year. We look forward to getting your application!

How to Start: CLICK HERE to begin your application. This link will take you to a short questionnaire that helps you identify the right scholarships for you. Answer each question in the questionnaire as completely and accurately as possible, and you’ll get a list of the scholarships that you may be eligible to receive. Select the scholarships that seem to fit you, and start your application.

Create an Account: You must create a (free) account in the system in order to apply. By creating an account, you can save an incomplete application, and log back into the system later to complete it. To log back into the system to finish your application, go to, click login, enter the email and password for your account, and you will see the list of all of your applications, including incomplete, pending, and submitted applications.

Common Application: Students complete one common application for all Community Foundation scholarships. That means that once a student completes his/her first application in our system, all of the information from that first application carries over to his/her next applications. This includes financial information, academic information, extracurricular information, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. The only part of the application that a student must complete individually for each scholarship is the essay question at the end.

Letters of Recommendation: We require two letters of recommendation. The application form will prompt the applicant to identify two people to submit letters. The system will automatically email your recommenders once you enter their email addresses. It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure that their recommenders upload their letters by the March 29 deadline. We regret that late letters cannot be accepted.

Need-Based Awards: Though many of the Community Foundation’s scholarships are merit-based, the majority of awards consider financial need. For the need-based awards, students should complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and upload the resulting Student Aid Report into their application. Students whose citizenship status prevents their completion of a FAFSA (e.g., DACA students) may still be considered for need-based awards and should talk to their guidance counselors for instruction.

Students, start your applications today! Our application closes on Sunday, March 29 at 11:59 pm. Unfortunately, late applications are never accepted. All scholarship winners will be announced at their school’s Senior Awards Night in May or June.

Click here for more information in English.

Haga clic aquí para más información en español.

OBCF Honors Champions, Announces 2020 Vision Grants at Annual Meeting

The Outer Banks Community Foundation’s membership honored two Champions, elected five board members, and celebrated $1.4 million in grants and scholarships in 2019 at the organization’s Annual Meeting on February 20.

The Community Foundation also announced a major new grants initiative at its meeting, the 2020 Vision Grants, which will be launched later in the year.

The Annual Meeting featured curated photography by Daniel Pullen, including hundreds of images of Ocracoke in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. A descendant of nine Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Keepers, Pullen has devoted his life and work to photographic storytelling. He has visited Ocracoke at least once a week since the storm to document the island’s recovery, and in 2018 he was named Dare County Artist of the Year.

Tom Pahl, Hyde County Commissioner for Ocracoke Township, gave the keynote address at the meeting. Pahl spoke about the extent of Dorian’s destruction on Ocracoke, and how the community pulled together in response. “I come bearing a message of gratitude … from everyone who has benefited so greatly from the Outer Banks Community Foundation Dorian Relief Fund,” said Pahl. “My message is simple and heartfelt: thank you. We were all brought to tears by your generosity.”

Community Foundation President Scott Brown spoke further of the organization’s disaster relief efforts. He said that more than 6,000 individuals, foundations, churches, businesses, and civic groups had contributed to Disaster Relief for the Outer Banks, donating $1.5 million for disaster victims in Ocracoke and Dare County. Mr. Brown said that $675,000 had been distributed so far to individuals and families, and another $700,000 had been committed for housing repairs and rebuilds on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands. Further relief efforts are ongoing, he said.

The Community Foundation awarded its most prestigious honor, the Champion Award, to two entities at the meeting: first to TowneBank, for its lead gift of $150,000 for Dorian relief efforts, which the Bank committed just 24 hours after the storm. Taylor Sugg, President of TowneBank Currituck – Outer Banks, accepted the award.

Then, the entire Community Foundation staff presented an additional Champion Award to Bob Muller for his tireless volunteerism and heroic efforts in fundraising for Dorian. Muller not only led the Facebook fundraising efforts after Dorian; he also led outreach efforts to nonprofits after the storm to offer Rapid Response Grants, among many other projects.

The Community Foundation membership unanimously elected two new directors for the organization’s board: Ruth Toth of Ocracoke, and Pat Regan of Martin’s Point. Toth is a retired schoolteacher and restaurateur, and Regan is a retired food industry executive. Additional board terms for Nancy Caviness, Greg Honeycutt, and Clark Twiddy were unanimously approved by members. Ray White of Nags Head and Bruce Austin of Manteo, board members who completed their board terms in 2019, were thanked for their outstanding service.

Finally, Community Foundation Executive Director Lorelei Costa announced a new grants program for 2020, thanks to an anonymous gift of $105,000. The Vision 2020 Grants, she said, would be a competitive, one-year grant opportunity for one or two nonprofits serving the Outer Banks to receive $50,000 to $100,000 awards to address an urgent community need or opportunity. Costa said that the goal of the program was to make a tangible, substantial difference for the Outer Banks, to solve or at least “move the needle” on a significant community problem, or to seize an exciting opportunity that might not otherwise be within reach. Application details would be announced in March, she said.

Community Foundation Annual Meeting Is February 20 at Jennette’s Pier

The Outer Banks Community Foundation will hold its 2020 Annual Meeting at Jennette’s Pier on February 20, 2020. Doors open at 11:30 am for a reception, featuring photography from Ocracoke by Daniel Pullen. A luncheon will follow at noon, with a keynote address by Tom Pahl, 2019 Community Foundation highlights, Champion Award announcements, and election of the Community Foundation’s board.



Community Fdn Awards $1.4M in 2019 and Opens 9 New Charitable Funds

Ending another record-breaking year, the Outer Banks Community Foundation announced over $1.4 million in grants and scholarships in 2019, and the creation of nine new charitable endowments for future community support.

Dozens of local nonprofits received grant aid throughout the year, benefiting every type of charitable cause, from Ocracoke to Hatteras to Roanoke Island to Corolla, and every Outer Banks neighborhood and town in between. In December alone, the Community Foundation awarded competitive Community Enrichment Grants of $5,000 to St. John United Methodist Church in Avon in support of its free community dinners, over $5,900 to the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island for summer camp scholarships, and $10,000 to Interfaith Community Outreach to support that organization’s disaster relief efforts on Ocracoke Island.

Also in December the Community Foundation funded over $32,000 in donor-advised grants to 16 different nonprofits, including the Dare County Arts Council, Dare Education Foundation, the Roanoke Island Historical Association, the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Auxiliary, and the Beach Food Pantry. Donor-advised funds are created when a donor contributes a tax-benefited gift to establish a new fund; the donor then recommends how the endowment’s earnings should be distributed to charities each year.

In 2019 the Community Foundation also continued to subsidized trainings and seminars for dozens of local nonprofits. In April the Community Foundation organized a strategic planning workshop for charities, and committed the funds to bring the Duke University Nonprofit Management Certificate Program to the Outer Banks. The intensive eight-day training will be offered in January 2021.

In addition to grants and other support for nonprofits, the Community Foundation continued to be the Outer Banks’s leading scholarship provider. In 2019 the Community Foundation helped 82 local students attend college, totaling over $165,000 in scholarships last year.

Most of all, disaster relief after Hurricane Dorian was the Community Foundation’s major push in 2019. As of December, the Community Foundation and its partners had awarded $80,000 to storm victims in Dare County, $450,000 to victims in Ocracoke, and $70,000 in Rapid Response Grants to nonprofits. Additionally, the Community Foundation has pledged $700,000 for home repairs, rebuilds, and temporary housing across the Outer Banks, to be paid in 2020 as houses on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands are rebuilt and restored.

But according to Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director, the most exciting news from 2019 was the growth of charitable funds for the future. “We started nine new endowments last year, including four new scholarship funds, three new donor-advised funds, and two new grant-making funds,” she said. “All of these new endowments will become permanent sources of community support for generations, which means more grants and scholarships in 2020 and beyond.”

Anyone can contribute to any of the Community Foundation’s charitable funds, or start a fund of their own. Donations may be made online at and are fully tax-deductible. Checks may also be mailed to 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949.

Community Foundation Now Accepting 2020 Grant Applications

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications from nonprofits for its Community Enrichment Grants Program. Applications must be submitted online via the Community Foundation’s web portal. The first deadline of the year is Friday, January 31.

The Community Enrichment Grants Program is the Community Foundation’s largest and broadest funding opportunity. In 2019 the Community Foundation awarded $280,000 in discretionary grants to 35 local nonprofits. The grants are offered on a competitive basis for any kind of charitable project that benefits the Outer Banks, or any part thereof. Areas of interest include: arts & culture; animal welfare; children & youth; education; the environment; disaster relief & prevention; health; historic interpretation & preservation; and other human services.

Most Community Enrichment Grants will support the direct costs of a charitable project or program. In 2019, for example, the Community Foundation sponsored pet resuscitation masks for Dare County fire departments through the Coastal Humane Society, furnishings for the Monarch Beach Club’s day programs, renovations and new appliances for the Roanoke Island Food Pantry, and tower gardens for the Cape Hatteras Elementary School through OBX Go Far.

Some limited Community Enrichment Grants are also available to nonprofits for program staff wages. For example, a grant in 2019 is allowing the Community Care Clinic to retain a Spanish language translator and interpreter to provide medical care to low-income, uninsured, and under-insured patients.

Community Enrichment Grants also are awarded for capacity-building projects, with a goal of enhancing a nonprofit’s long-term effectiveness, financial stability, and/or program quality. For example, grants were awarded last year for software for the Outer Banks Relief Foundation and for computer equipment for Interfaith Community Outreach.

Additionally, the Community Foundation awards program scholarship grants, which are grants to enable a nonprofit to offer “scholarships” to individuals and families with financial need or other hardship. The scholarships offset the registration fees that the nonprofit would normally charge for any kind of enrichment program, such as an educational offering or after-school program. For example, a 2019 grant will provide scholarships to help Dare County children with financial need attend summer camp at the Roanoke Island Aquarium.

Community Enrichment Grants will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout 2020, and will be reviewed and awarded quarterly. Any applications received by Friday, January 31 will have a decision by March 12. Before starting an application for any grant, prospective applicants should first review the criteria online at, and then contact Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839 to discuss their projects.


There is still time to invest in the future of OBX in 2019, but don’t delay.

Outer Banks Community Foundation Reports Record Giving in 2019!

Thanks to your support, we awarded over $1.3 million this year in grants and scholarships to nonprofits and students across our community—nearly double from last year. Thanks to our donors, we helped 85 students attend college this year in pursuit of the dream of a higher education. Thanks to you, we introduced young children across Dare County to trumpets and violins through a grant to the NC Symphony. Because of your generosity, we are sending under-served kids to camp at the NC Aquarium next summer, and we are funding specialized training for teachers in Currituck County to help them best support students with autism.

And our grants are tackling the hard stuff, too—our community’s most urgent needs and complex challenges. This year a $50,000 grant to Outer Banks Hotline is helping them expand their shelter for homeless teens and victims of violence and trafficking. A $36,375 grant to Dare CASA and the Saving Lives Task Force will help them reduce and prevent substance addiction and fatal overdose in our community.

Because of you, and generous people like you, we supported food assistance programs from Kitty Hawk to Manteo to Avon to Ocracoke. We helped cancer patients afford medical treatment, and helped local veterans pay bills during times of hardship. We even helped the Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation purchase an ophthalmoscope, which allowed them to care for an injured barred owl earlier this month. And that’s just a taste of the myriad of grants from 2019.

And of course, there was a storm called Dorian…

We include these stories, and advice about ensuring your year-end donation counts in 2019. You can read the entire newsletter here.

Plan Your Giving: What We Can Learn from Ebenezer Scrooge

By Lorelei Costa

Note: This article first appeared in the December 19, 2018 edition of the Outer Banks Sentinel.

My son and I are binge-watching A Christmas Carol this season—every version we can reasonably watch, from Patrick Stewart to the Muppets to the corny musical with Albert Finney. The story has great messages about opening your eyes to people in need, and about the sheer joy of giving back.

There is so much heart-breaking poverty in our world, not so very different from what the Christmas Ghosts showed Ebenezer Scrooge. Once you open your eyes, it can be downright overwhelming. With so much need around the world, and even here on the Outer Banks, where on earth do you start?

Look, giving away money is easy. Giving it away wisely can be hard—yet all the more joyful. Effectual, impactful philanthropy does not require deep pockets, just some thoughtfulness and planning.

With the new year approaching, this might be a great time for you, your family, or your company to start planning your 2019 philanthropy. It’s simply a matter of reviewing your past giving, creating a vision, selecting focus areas, and setting some guidelines.

Step 1: Review your past giving. Start by making a list of all your gifts from 2018. If you keep good records, this will be easy—and the actual numbers may surprise you. But if you can’t remember every gift, that’s okay. What’s most important is to answer these three questions:

What was the largest gift you gave in 2018?

What gift had the most impact, or made the biggest difference, in your estimation?

Lastly, of all your gifts from 2018, which brought YOU the most joy?

In the perfect world, you’ll name the same gift for all three questions—but oddly, for most of us, that’s not always the case.

Ideally, we each donate the majority of our resources to the causes that fulfill us the most, and make the biggest difference.

For example, maybe Scrooge’s biggest gift was to his childhood boarding school, but the gift that made him happiest was the Christmas goose for the Cratchits. Maybe next year he resolves to give away more geese.

Step 2: Create your vision. Think big, and imagine a little. What are your hopes and dreams for your community, today and tomorrow? How would you want to improve our world?

Speaking of world, ponder your scope. Do you want to address global issues, or start at home in your community, or both?

Think about impact: Do you want to help today by focusing on immediate needs, or would you rather tackle root causes and long-term solutions? For example, would you rather buy new crutches for Tiny Tim, or contribute to research for finding a cure for spina bifida?

Step 3: Select your areas of focus. Now that you have your vision, what are your specific charitable priority areas? If you’re not sure, think about the issues that inspire you (or enrage you) the most when you read the paper, or the organizations that have made a difference in your life.

Maybe you are passionate about disaster relief, or faith-based charities. Or maybe it’s the environment, health, education, animals, affordable housing, economic development, arts and culture, or civil rights. Be as specific as you want; specificity now will be helpful when you start to feel overwhelmed later. Try to narrow your focus to one, two, or three priority areas, the causes that touch your heart the most.

From here, consider summarizing your priorities into a short mission statement. This is optional: for most folks, a simple list of focus areas is enough. That said, if you’re doing this exercise on behalf of a company or foundation, you might find that a well-crafted mission statement will help you publicize your charitable goals.

Scrooge might have written something like this: I seek to ameliorate Ignorance and Want by supporting literacy efforts, helping children with spina bifida, advocating for reform of prisons and workhouses, and providing food for the hungry, with a special emphasis on Christmas geese.

Step 4. Set your guidelines. You have your charitable priorities now and, presumably, a budget for your giving. You may wish to establish some guidelines, and allocate percentages for different areas of focus.

For example, Scrooge may want to target 60% of his wealth toward his top causes (e.g., literacy, Christmas geese), while keeping 20% for general community causes (e.g., his alma mater and community foundation), and 20% for his flex fund. I do recommend keeping a small flex fund so you can support any unexpected, compelling requests as they arise.

If you have children, perhaps you allocate some amount for your kids to give away. If you have a business, perhaps you dedicate some amount for your company’s priorities, and some amount for your employees’ matching gifts. Set other guidelines (must-have’s, never-do’s) as desired.

Lastly, look again at your priorities, and compare them to last year’s giving. Whatever gifts brought you the most joy and made the biggest impact last year: make sure you dedicate the majority of your largesse to those places.

To purloin the sentiments of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred: Though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that giving has done me good, and will do me good.

May your holidays and new year also be filled with the joy of giving.