French Broad began sponsoring the Bright Ideas grant program with the 1999-2000 school year. FBEMC is one of 26 North Carolina electric cooperatives which fund the Bright Ideas Education Grant Program each year. Teachers in public schools located in and near the cooperative’s service territory can learn about the program and apply online at Grants up to $3,000 are available. Grant applications for the 2019-2020 school year will be accepted April 1 – September 13th. All teachers who submit their applications by the early bird deadline of August 15th will also be entered into a drawing for a Visa gift card.

Co-sponsored by the N.C. Association of Electric Cooperatives, the grants are available to teachers in area schools for projects that traditional school money does not cover. Since 1994, FBEMC and North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have worked to enhance education by engaging students in meaningful learning projects that encourage creative approaches. In the past two decades, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have contributed more than $10.2 million to teachers for 9,800 projects benefiting more than 2 million students.

Supporting Teachers Is Supporting The Future

Along with providing electric service to members, North Carolina’s rural electric cooperatives believe supporting teachers – and their bright ideas – is a vital part of their mission to improve the lives of the more than 2.5 million people they serve in 93 counties throughout the state.

NC teachers are professionals who consistently and creatively inspire our state’s youth, usually stretching shoestring budgets or spending from their own pockets as they educate. In addition to instructing their students in academics, teachers serve as role models, boost self esteem, teach individual and community values, coach sports, lead clubs and stress the importance of education and its grounding effect on their future life’s work.

Sam Hutchins with French Broad EMC will personally contact the principals of each of the co-op’s eligible schools at the beginning of the each school year with complete information about this opportunity. To learn more about the Bright Ideas program please use the info below, visit or send an e-mail to

To apply, teachers must include a budget, explain the implementation, goals, creative elements and evaluation of the project and have approval from the school principal. Applications will be judged in a competitive evaluation process, and judges will be on the lookout for projects that feature innovation and creativity.

Funds requested for educator salaries, release time or professional development are not considered.

Grant applications and additional information may be found at

Educators from thirty-seven schools in or near the FBEMC service area are eligible to apply for a Bright Ideas grant. Those schools are listed by county below:

Buncombe County
Barnardsville Elementary
Erwin Middle
Erwin High
Leicester Elementary
North Buncombe Elementary
North Buncombe Middle
North Buncombe High
North Windy Ridge
Weaverville Elementary
Weaverville Primary

Madison County
Brush Creek Elementary
Hot Springs Elementary
Laurel Elementary
Madison High
Madison Middle
Mars Hill Elementary

Mitchell County
Bowman Middle
Buladean Elementary
Deyton Elementary
Gouge Elementary
Greenlee Primary
Harris Middle
Mitchell High
Tipton Hill Elementary

Yancey County
Bald Creek Elementary
Bee Log Elementary
Burnsville Elementary
Cane River Middle
Clearmont Elementary
East Yancey Middle
Micaville Elementary
Mountain Heritage High
South Toe Elementary

Unicoi County, TN
Love Chapel Elementary
Temple Hill Elementary
Unicoi County Middle
Unicoi High

Madison County
Brush Creek Elementary: Joy Allen, Roslyn Carney & Jennifer Miller
Madison Early College: Scott Whitney
Madison High: Georgina Ray
Madison Middle: Kerstin Davis, Thomas Hicks & Don Schiffhauer
Mars Hill Elementary: Crystal Blankenship & Holly Massey

Mitchell County
Deyton Elementary: Kelli Chapman
Harris Middle: Laura Cole
Mitchell High: Melissa Cadell

Yancey County
Cane River Elementary: Christy Deyton, Victoria Hensley, Keli Miller & Karen Stevens
Clearmont Elementary: Erin McKinney
East Yancey Middle: Chris Brocci, Beryl Carroll & Jenny Martin
Micaville Elementary: Karen Fox
Mountain Heritage High: Daniel McKinney

Unicoi County, TN
Unicoi High: Karla Keesecker

In addition to stimulating student participation, these diverse classroom projects, which frequently benefit the school and its greater community, integrate multiple academic subjects, cutting-edge technology, social awareness and multigenerational relationships.