Bright Ideas Grants Top $10 Million in North Carolina


  • North Carolina’s network of electric cooperatives collectively has contributed $10.2 million to classrooms statewide through Bright Ideas education grants.
  • Grants have funded innovative, hands-on classroom projects statewide for more than 20 years, funding more than 9,800 projects and benefiting more than 2 million students.
  • Union Power has contributed nearly $334,000 in funding for projects benefitting thousands of students in our 5-county service area since 1994.

Bright Ideas grants are awarded to local teachers by each of North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives, including Union Power. The grants fund creative learning projects in all subject areas and are available to Tar Heel teachers in grades K-12.

“Reaching this $10 million milestone demonstrates the electric cooperatives’ unwavering commitment to the communities we serve,” said Carrie Stroud, Union Power’s manager of communications. “Bright Ideas grants have allowed us to work with many exceptional teachers to bring exciting new resources to the classroom and make a real difference for students. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.”

Last year, the Cooperative awarded more than $21,000 to 14 teachers for projects that benefited 3,200+ students. Surprise visits to schools in November included a Harrisburg Elementary assembly where Carolina Panthers players and mascot Sir Purr helped Union Power personnel honor teachers Amye Smereka, Angela Gardner and Kathy Braswell with the money to fund these projects: “The Classroom Embryology Project,” “Global Garden,” and “Paper, Paper and More Paper!” Learn more and see last year’s winners here.

Bright Ideas grant applications are accepted annually from April through September and can be found at