NC IDEA Receives Historic $1.25 Million Commitment from The Research Triangle Foundation; Awards Seven ECOSYSTEM Grants with Initial Funding

DURHAM, NC – June 22, 2021 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced today a historic $1.25 million commitment from the Research Triangle Foundation (RTF) and the awarding of seven ECOSYSTEM grants with the initial funding.

The joint partnership between NC IDEA and RTF marks the largest single contribution to the Foundation and a significant anchor partner in NC IDEA’s Equitable NC, a five-year economic plan that expands funding and programmatic capacity to accelerate and amplify equitable entrepreneurial growth across the State. RTF’s initial commitment of $250,000 will fund seven entrepreneur support organizations through ECOSYSTEM grants awarded to strengthen the infrastructure for North Carolina’s entrepreneurs. The remaining $1,000,000 investment will further support the ECOSYSTEM grant program, as well as the activities of the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council, over the next five years.

“We are grateful and inspired that the Research Triangle Foundation is joining our efforts to empower more North Carolinians to pursue their entrepreneurial ambition, particularly in underserved communities,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO and President of NC IDEA. “Investing in such activity statewide demonstrates that economic impact can be shared well beyond the Research Triangle Park, and is a reflection of their leadership,” Ruhe concluded.

“The Foundation’s work has always been about more than the Park,” adds Linda Hall, Executive Vice President and CFO for RTF. “Our mission, which has been the same since RTP’s founding in 1959, tasks us with creating economic impact for all North Carolinians. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to do so through NC IDEA’s ECOSYSTEM grant program.”

The newest ECOSYSTEM grant recipients funded with the Research Triangle Foundation’s $250,000 initial investment include:

In addition to these grants, Ray Trapp, Vice President of Strategic Engagement for RTF, will join the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council. “This partnership, along with previous commitments to STEM-based non-profit grants focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, reflects our willingness to lead in this space,” said Trapp. “One of the pillars of the mission of the Research Triangle Foundation is to create a positive economic impact for North Carolina residents, meaning, all residents within the state. We stand by that mission, and our community investments are an example of our pledge to fulfill these goals.”

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at