NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced that the organization has awarded $150,000 to 15 North Carolina startups, including one from Greenville, in its eighth NC IDEA MICRO grant cycle.

Since the inaugural cycle in spring 2018, NC IDEA MICRO has awarded more than $1.3 million to 133 young companies across the state.

Through small, project-based grants, NC IDEA MICRO awards $10,000 in funding to young companies looking to validate and advance their ideas.

The program, piloted in 2018, was created as an expansion of the foundation’s long-standing SEED grant program to provide funding to younger, promising startups not yet positioned for the foundation’s traditional $50,000 grants.

“Over five years ago, we made a commitment to equity and equal opportunity that no less than 50% of our grants and programs should serve historically underrepresented communities,” said Thom Ruhe, president and CEO of NC IDEA. “This cohort of MICRO grant recipients is a clear result of the combined efforts of the foundation and our ECOSYSTEM partners to level the playing field and inject more competition into our processes without lowering the bar.

“The results speak for themselves this cycle, with all 15 grant recipients being either female-founded, minority-founded or hailing from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county,” Ruhe said.

These 15 grant recipients were chosen after a three-month competitive application and selection process that drew 139 applications from across the state:

  • R.A.W Plastic — Greenville
  • Animal Cancer Dx — Raleigh
  • anyBODY Clothing — Apex
  • Ashanti Styles LLC — Apex
  • BLKResumes — Charlotte
  • Calico Sol — Raleigh
  • DEI Directive — Charlotte
  • DivySci Software — Durham
  • Holy Smokes! Foods — Carrboro
  • LabRunner — Raleigh
  • Periscope Health Analytics — Charlotte
  • PettyGigs Inc. — Charlotte
  • Ponybox Clothing — Charlotte
  • ROSA Technology LLC — Chapel Hill
  • Secure Living — Charlotte

The Greenville grant winner, R.A.W. (Restoring Another Waterway) Plastic, began with a local effort to control and reduce individuals’ plastic footprints. According to the company’s website, members of the R.A.W. team began by saving whatever plastic they used, such as detergent, milk and shampoo bottles and straws collected from working bartending shifts. They washed the plastic and sorted it by color.


The recycling process began in a one-bedroom apartment on Elm Street, the website states. Team members cut the plastic with scissors and melted it in silicone molds in the oven. Eventually, they began using aluminum plates from a panini press and a tortilla bowl maker. The process was time-consuming and exhausting. However, through trial and error and with the help of individuals in the community, R.A.W. has made significant strides in its process.

“We now create our products in a small warehouse, collecting plastic from numerous businesses and eco-friendly residents of our community,” the website states.

The company sells products created from recycled plastic at its website: www.rawplasticnc.com.

R.A.W Plastic’s goal is to facilitate community clean-ups and business partnerships.

“We want to keep plastic pollution out of our waterways to prevent plastic waste ending up in our oceans,” the website states. “Once it reaches the ocean, it may be too late for us to clean up our mess. We aim to engage the community in order for them to think globally, but begin to act local. It is much easier to stop plastic pollution at the source.

“Our goal is for R.A.W. Plastic to have a presence all over the world. We believe that if we all contribute and act, we can tackle the plastic pollution problem and contain it. We see the potential in humanity and their will to adapt and change in order to protect those most affected by our actions. Marine life is at stake and so are entire ecosystems throughout the world.”

NC IDEA

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential.

Through a combination of competitive grants and programs and a network of strategic partners, the foundation helps entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling it to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. Learn more at www.ncidea.org.

Contact jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.