Watauga County citizens will benefit from grants worth $18,200 awarded recently to local helping agencies from the Blue Ridge Energy Members Foundation for the most recent grant cycle.

Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over $1.1 million in community grants and over $3.3 million in total assistance for helping members and families stay warm in the winter with heating bill assistance.

The grants are examples of why the cooperative established the Members Foundation in 2007 to support the work of community organizations providing services that improve the quality of life for the cooperative’s members. Projects in the areas of health, wellness, education, youth, and economic and community development are the Foundation’s priorities for support.

A grand total of $114,315 was awarded in grants to 20 different organizations across the Blue Ridge service area. Local Watauga County agencies receiving grant awards include:

  • OASIS, $2,000 to help fund utility deposits and other housing obstacles for families fleeing intimate partner violence;
  • Special Olympics, $2,500 to assist in their programs across the area;
  • Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center, $3,700 to assist with their program offering therapeutic riding/equine facilitated learning to children ages 3 to 17;
  • Sugar Grove Developmental Day School, $7,500 to fund improvements to playground areas for infants, toddlers, tween and preschool students;
  • Western Youth Network, $2,500 to expand the mentoring program in Avery County.

During 2018, the Foundation also provided crisis funding assistance to more than 1,200 Blue Ridge Energy members in need of emergency help to pay their electric bills. While crisis assistance is funded by the Foundation, local helping agencies evaluate needs and determine who qualifies for assistance.

Funding for Foundation grants and crisis assistance comes from members participating in Blue Ridge Energy’s Operation Round Up and Operation Round Up Plus programs as well as an annual contribution from the profits of Blue Ridge Energy, LLC, the cooperative’s heating fuels subsidiary. Over 28,000 members are either rounding up their monthly electric bill with Operation Round Up or adding a dollar or more with Operation Round Up Plus.

Anyone with questions about the Foundation, or agencies interested in applying for grants, may contact Grey Scheer, director of community relations, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..