The Cole Foundation Endowment

The Cole Foundation, now a permanent endowment fund of Foundation For The Carolinas, was originally established in 1965 as a private foundation with gifts from Elizabeth S. Cole and her brother, Robert L. Cole, in memory of their parents, William B. Cole and Elizabeth Little Cole, and their sister, Catherine Cole.

During the lifetimes of the donors, gifts from The Cole Foundation benefited numerous charitable organizations. It was characteristic that gifts were made quietly and often anonymously.

When Elizabeth and Robert died in the late 1980s, the majority of their estates came to The Cole Foundation by bequest. In 1989 the Trustees of The Cole Foundation conveyed its assets to Foundation For The Carolinas to insure the long-term stewardship of the trust. The Trustees of The Cole Foundation, acting as a committee, continue to serve as advisors in its administration.

Grant Cycle Timeline and Target Areas

The Foundation has moved to an online grants management system, Community Force. Visit our Online Grants Center to search for specific information about this program. For additional information, contact Candice Abinanti, Board and Grants Specialist, at or 704.973.4559.

Target Areas

Grants are limited to eligible organizations including 501(c)(3) nonprofit, governmental and educational institutions for projects that will serve Richmond County, NC. Preference will be given to promising new projects that address community needs identified below.

The applicant may be an existing organization, a coalition of organizations, or a new organization. If the organization has been in existence past the seed stage, the proposal must be outside the realm of possible inclusion in the regular ongoing operating budget.

  • Areas of interest include: economic development, education (K-12 and Post-Secondary), recreation and arts/culture.
  • Program grants – Priority will be given to local proposals that evidence volunteer leadership and/or grassroots participation and financial support. Projects will be evaluated on the basis of (1) feasibility in terms of leadership and plan, (2) significance in terms of the importance of the issue being addressed, and (3) the project’s potential for success.
  • Capital Grants for Land, Buildings, and Equipment – Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate an organizational commitment in terms of leadership, financial support, and other resources. Priority will be given to “challenge grants” whereby other donors make matching gifts.

Future Funding - A project or program must have potential continuity through other funding sources in future years.

Areas Not Generally Funded

  • Ongoing operating budgets
  • Endowment Funds
  • Grants to individuals (e.g. scholarships, hardship)
  • Publication of books
  • Conferences

Duration and Tracking of Grant
All grant recipients are expected to provide a report evaluating the project and accounting for grant expenses. If a complete evaluation report is not received by the requested date, an organization may be ineligible for a grant from this grant program in the future.

Additional Notes
The Cole Foundation has limited discretionary funds; therefore, many exemplary proposals cannot be funded. Because of the volume of requests, we do not provide written feedback on proposals that are not funded. To conduct a fair and ethical grants program, a conflict of interest policy is followed and requires that volunteers and/or staff not participate in the grant process for an organization with which they are affiliated. Please do not lobby board or grant committee members on behalf of your organization. If an individual or organization wishes to express support for your project’s application, please have them contact Candice Abinanti, Board and Grants Specialist, at or 704.973.4559

The Cole Foundation Trustees

Russell E. Bennett, Jr.
J. Neal Cadieu, Jr.
Al Covington
Charles B. Deane, Jr.
Lazell Marks
Sandra B. Ridley

To obtain more information about The Cole Foundation, contact:

Brian Collier
Executive Vice President
Community Programs & Civic Leadership