BrightIdeas

Celebrating 20 years of Bright Ideas grants

At North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, we believe there is no more important investment than in our state’s youth. That’s why for the past 20 years, the electric co-ops have offered Bright Ideas education grants to Tar Heel teachers in K-12 classrooms across the state.

Bright Ideas grants provide funding for innovative, classroom-based projects that would otherwise not be possible. Since 1994, we have touched the lives of more than 1.6 million students who have participated in 8,800 Bright Ideas projects, and given out more than $9.1 million.

Applications are being accepted through September. Final application deadlines can vary, depending on the sponsoring electric cooperative in your area.

Congratulations to our Bright Ideas Tar Heel Teacher of the Week!

Mrs. Yolanda Epps
Douglas Byrd High School
Fayetteville, N.C.

Traditionally, women have been underrepresented in the fields of engineering, technology, science and math. Mrs. Epps, our Tar Heel Teacher of the Week nominated by Lumbee River EMC in Red Springs, is working to change that by introducing young women to the world of 3-D printing and readying all her high-school students for high-tech careers.

Mrs. Epps sets the bar high for her students in Cumberland County. She encourages critical thinking and challenges them to master the 21st century skills needed for the jobs of the future. In her “3D GREES – Girls Really Enjoy Engineering and Science” Bright Ideas project, young women use a 3-D printer to manufacture objects and partner with local and regional companies for practice at real-world problem solving. By developing a more prepared workforce, Mrs. Epps hopes to have a major impact not only on the lives of her students, and but also in the community.

Mrs. Epps will be recognized as a Tar Heel Teacher of the Week on the radio broadcast of the UNC vs. Miami game on Saturday, Nov. 1. She will receive four tickets to a Tar Heel football game and a plaque commemorating her achievement.

North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives make possible the Tar Heel Teacher of the Week and Bright Ideas education grant programs in support of education and local communities. Only 26 exceptional North Carolina teachers will be honored as Teachers of the Week this year.

Lumbee River EMC is a not-for-profit electric utility owned by more than 50,000 members in Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson and Scotland counties. For more information about North Carolina’s electric co-ops’ commitment to community, click here.


See how Bright Ideas impacts teachers and students by watching our 20th anniversary celebration video:


This year, the cooperatives expect to award about $600,000 to educators at schools across the state for projects in a variety of disciplines including music, art, history, reading, science, career-planning and information technology. To find out if your school is eligible or to determine the final application deadline in your area, click the “Search for My School” tab above.

Applications are accepted each year from April through mid-September, and the program offers a convenient and simple online application process. The final deadline depends on your school’s sponsoring electric cooperative. Educators may apply as individuals or as a team for the grants, which are awarded in a competitive evaluation process by individual electric cooperatives throughout the state.

North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives are committed to the communities they serve. Find about more about the cooperatives’ community programs here.