Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Winter Squash Wonderland in December

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Red Kuri, Blue Hubbard, and Candy Roaster are just a few of the varieties of winter squash found in the Appalachian Grownregion. Vividly colored, they are flavorful, and brighten up fall and winter meals. From main dish to side dish to dessert, these hearty fruits become sweet and rich on the palate as they cook and take well to a variety of seasonings.

Appalachian Grown partner restaurants have sweet and savory plans for ASAP’s Get Local campaign in December. Cúrate is featuring Appalachian Grown squash from New River Organic Growers and Rise Up Rooted Farm in a butternut squash soup with Spanish paprika and candied pumpkin seeds. West End Bakery purchases winter squash from R Farm for their many menu items this month including a blue Hubbard black eyed pea soup, and pumpkin chili. Desserts at West End Bakery include pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin mousse, and pumpkin pie brownies. Over at The Market Place, look for a roasted pumpkin soup, with pepitas and cave aged blue cheese using candy roaster squash/pumpkins also from New River Organic Growers. Maple lacquered bacon, acorn squash, cast iron roasted Brussel sprouts, with candied pecans will also be featured at The Market Place; or try the roasted beet & chèvre ravioli with butternut squash.

Visit ASAP’s website at to find more details on what’s happening this month. You can also Get Local at home: Find each month’s featured food—and other seasonal products—at your neighborhood farmers tailgate market, roadside stand, or grocery store. Browse for markets, stands, and stores via ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at


ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit, or call (828) 236-1282.

Diana Wortham Theatre Swannanoa Solstice Holiday Concert

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Award-winning recording artists Al Petteway, Amy White, and Robin Bullock lead the annual holiday concert A Swannanoa Solstice, Sunday, December 21 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville, with festivities beginning in the lobby prior to the performances with complimentary wassail and cookies, and music by The Piper Jones Band during intermission. In this annual winter holiday celebration, now in its 12th year, world-renowned musicians Petteway and White along with Bullock and a host of special guests share holiday songs old and new, religious and secular, joyful and poignant, in a warm and intimate winter concert.

Presented in partnership with The Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College, A Swannanoa Solstice again offers two performances in order to meet the audience demand for this popular winter gathering and concert.

This year’s special guests include:

  • Sheila Kay Adams, National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship winner, world-renowned Appalachian storyteller, traditional ballad singer, banjo player and author;
  • The Twisty Cuffs, local Cape Breton-style stepdancers;
  • The Piper Jones Band, featuring E.J. Jones on Highland bagpipes, Rosalind Buda on bombarde, and Frances Cunningham on bouzouki
  • Matthew Bell on the Irish bodhrán and the Scottish marching snare drum
  • Host and emcee Doug Orr, president emeritus of Warren Wilson College and founder of A Swannanoa Solstice

A Swannanoa Solstice showcases all manner of seasonal sounds and festivities, with well-mastered Celtic and Appalachian songs and music on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, piano, Celtic harp, Irish bouzouki, vocals and world percussion. Through music and storytelling and poetry, the featured artists explore shared winter traditions from the area, the country, and from around the world. The melodies played by Petteway, a virtuosic acoustic guitarist, draw from a broad variety of cultural influences from Middle East tonalities to Scottish jigs. White, on piano, mandolin, guitar, Celtic harp and percussion, draws on her classical background to create beautiful and compelling original compositions and arrangements of traditional favorites. Bullock, a multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, mandolin and bouzouki is hailed as a master musician whose style skillfully embraces Celtic and Classical music.

More about the artists:

Grammy winner Al Petteway and his wife and musical partner Amy White perform an exciting blend of original, traditional, contemporary Celtic- and Appalachian-influenced music.  Their repertoire offers extensive instrumental work featuring acoustic guitars, mandolins, Celtic harp, piano and world percussion as well as a fine touch of vocals. They have been Artists in Residence at Warren Wilson College and The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Their award-winning signature sound is heard often on public radio programs and has been used in the soundtracks for a number of Ken Burns’ films, most notably the Emmy-winning PBS documentary, The National Parks-America’s Best Idea. While living in the Washington, D.C. area, Al & Amy won a grand total of 50 Wammies from the Washington Area Music Association in the Folk, Celtic and New Age categories. They received a coveted Indie Award for their CD Gratitude (2001) and Al won a Grammy for his solo fingerstyle guitar rendition of Henry Mancini’s The Thornbirds Theme featured on the pop instrumental compilation, Pink Guitar (2004). The readers of Acoustic Guitar magazine voted him one of the top fifty guitarists of all time. Al is the coordinator of Guitar Week for the world famous Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College, and was given the “Master Music Maker” award for his contributions to the program in 2013. Amy’s 2012 release, Home Sweet Home, was in the top ten on the national folk/roots charts and held the number one spot in North Carolina for more than a month in 2012. Al’s 2014 release, Mountain Guitar, features solo acoustic guitar and paints a musical portrait of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Al and Amy are both stock photographers with National Geographic Creative, and their photographs are represented in The National Geographic Society’s Image Collection, where Al worked as an image editor for 18 years. These photos are translated onstage during A Swannanoa Solstice in photographic backdrops of the Southern Appalachians in winter repose. Al and Amy make their home on top of the Elk Mountains range in nearby Weaverville, NC.

Hailed as a “Celtic guitar god” by the Baltimore City Paper, guitarist/mandolinist/citternist Robin Bullock is a winner of Editor’s Pick and Player’s Choice Awards from Acoustic Guitar Magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-folk trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas. His twelve solo and collaborative recordings include two holiday CDs, A Guitar for Christmas and Christmas Eve is Here, and Majesty and Magic: Music of Bach, Dowland and Carolan for Solo Guitar. His most recent release, Alone and Together, is a collaborative effort with fingerstyle guitarist, Steve Baughman. Robin also tours internationally as sideman with Grammy-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including Tom’s “Together at Last” tours with Janis Ian. A native of Washington, D.C. and a longtime resident of France, Robin now makes his home in Black Mountain, NC.

A Swannanoa Solstice is presented annually in partnership with The Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College, and is made possible by Performance Sponsors Dan & Anna Garrett, Bill & Marilyn Hubbard, and Marrion & Rockwell Ward; and by Mainstage Special Attractions Series Sponsors Joel & Deborah Bohan Berkowitz and Wells Fargo; with additional support from Media Sponsors The Laurel of Asheville, WCQS 88.1 FM, and WTZQ AM 1600.

The entrance for the Diana Wortham Theatre is marked by the location of the theatre’s marquee between 12 and 14 Biltmore Avenue. Patrons enter the theatre through the breezeway between Marble Slab Creamery and White Duck Taco restaurants, and into a large interior courtyard with multiple glass doors to the theatre’s lower lobby and box office. The intimate theatre seats just over 500 and boasts exceptional acoustics and sightlines, making it the premier performance space in Western North Carolina. The Mainstage Series is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency. The Mainstage Series 2014/2015 Season Sponsors are the Asheville Scene, Blue Moon Water, Creative Energy, Laurey’s Catering and Gourmet-to-go, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Renaissance Asheville Hotel. To obtain more information on the Mainstage Series or to purchase tickets, call the theatre’s box office at (828) 257-4530 or visit

New Belgium’s Fifth Annual Clips Beer and Film Tour Raised Nearly $140,000 for Local Organizations

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – The 2014 Clips Beer & Film Tour, New Belgium Brewing’s beer-toting, film-traveling, nonprofit-benefitting show, raised $139,524 this year after traveling to 21 cities (see local breakdowns below) across the nation. Approximately 20,200 people attended the various tour stops this year. Since its inception in 2010, Clips has raised $506,417 for nonprofit organizations. Kansas City raised the most money this year, bringing in more than $13,000.

Each Clips Beer & Film Tour stop featured New Belgium’s esoteric Lips of Faith beer offerings (and brewery classics) alongside amateur films created by inspired filmmakers from across the country. Volunteers served up popular and rare New Belgium brews with 100 percent of the proceeds from beer sales benefitting local nonprofits. Attendees also enjoyed food from local vendors in addition to a diverse offering of traveling games and contests.

Focusing on New Belgium’s commitment to sustainability, these events also encouraged people to recycle, with an impressive 80 percent of waste diverted from landfills. Alternative transportation was encouraged at each event and some cities even organized local community bike rides to the event.

“Mother Nature challenged us across the nation this year!  Even when there was rain people came out with big umbrellas so they could still see the films and support their local beneficiary,” said Christie Catania, Clips National Special Events Manager. “It was a great season and we are looking forward to planning a couple new cities in 2015!”

New Belgium selects approximately 20 short films for the tour each season. All selected filmmakers for the 2014 tour received a trophy-worthy beer in a custom screen-printed bottle, made exclusively for the winning submissions. This year, the chosen films included a banana with an attitude, ultra marathoners running with stubborn animals, neon spandex, and much, much more! It was a diverse and highly entertaining line-up with something for everyone. Filmmakers who would like to be considered for the 2015 tour can submit entries starting in January 2015 at

2014 Clips Beer & Film Tour: City Breakdown

Grand Totals

  • $139,524 raised for nonprofits
  • Approximately 20,200 attendees
  • 80 percent average waste diversion rate

Kansas City, MO – Thursday, May 22
Most money raised during the 2014 tour!

  • $13,086 raised for local nonprofits
  • 1,400 Approximately attendees
  • 91 percent average waste diversion rate

Bloomington, IN – Friday, May 30
Largest attendance during the 2014 tour!

  • $12,226 raised for local nonprofits (up $4,375 from 2013)
  • Approximately 1,700 attendees (up 500 from 2013)
  • 91 percent average waste diversion rate

Chicago, IL – Friday, June 6
First time in Chicago

  • $9,070 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 1,500 attendees
  • 93 percent average waste diversion rate

Milwaukee, WI – Thursday, June 12

  • $6,147 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 1,100 attendees (up 150 from 2013)
  • 93 percent average waste diversion rate

Madison, WI – Thursday, June 19*
Show moved indoors due to bad weather

  • $3,409 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 200 attendees

Grand Rapids, MI – Friday, June 27

  • $9,665 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 1,400 attendees

Boulder, CO – Friday, July 11

  • $9,918 raised for local nonprofits (up $4,381 from 2013)
  • Approximately 1,100 attendees
  • 96 percent average waste diversion rate

Colorado Springs, CO – Thursday, July 17

  • $12,088 raised for local nonprofits (up $6,643 from 2013)
  • Approximately 1,600 attendees (up 600 from 2013)
  • 88 percent average waste diversion rate

Seattle, WA – Friday, July 25

  • $10,208 raised for local nonprofits (up $860 from 2013)
  • Approximately 1,400 attendees
  • 80 percent average waste diversion rate

Davis, CA – Friday, August 1

  • $6,772 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 1,200 attendees
  • 93 percent average waste diversion rate

Berkeley, CA – Saturday, August 9
First time in Berkeley

  • $3,376 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 850 attendees
  • 97 percent average waste diversion rate

Santa Barbara, CA – Friday, August 15
First time in Santa Barbara
Highest waste diversion rate during the 2014 tour!

  • $4,773 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 800 attendees
  • 99 percent average waste diversion rate

Asheville, NC – Friday, September 5

  • $5,717 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 1,400 attendees
  • 77 percent average waste diversion rate

Charlottesville, VA – Friday, September 12

  • $4,147 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 750 attendees
  • 98 percent average waste diversion rate

Atlanta, GA – Friday, September 19
First time in Atlanta

  • $7,002 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 900 attendees

Charleston, SC – Thursday, September 25

  • $6,123 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 900 attendees
  • 88 percent average waste diversion rate

Charlotte, NC – Friday, October 3

  • $4,074 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 500 attendees

Nashville, TN – Thursday, October 9
First time in Nashville

  • $2,000 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 200 attendees
  • 77 percent average waste diversion rate

Tampa, FL – Friday, October 17
First time in Tampa

  • $6,395 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 800 attendees
  • 88 percent average waste diversion rate

Miami, FL – Friday, October 24*
First time in Miami
Show moved indoors due to bad weather

  • $2,083 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 200 attendees

Austin, TX – Thursday, November 6

  • $1,237 raised for local nonprofits
  • Approximately 300 attendees
  • 97 percent average waste diversion rate

*Due to weather or other circumstances, waste diversion rates aren’t available for some cities.

About New Belgium Brewing Company
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews nine year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Snapshot Wheat, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Lager, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel. Learn more at

500 Mugs for Sierra Leone

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Former A-B Tech Ceramics student, Sara Kurtz, has organized a fundraiser and exhibition called, “500 Mugs for Sierra Leone,” which includes mugs donated by various artists, students, and organizations from across the east coast of the United States including mugs created by current A-B Tech Ceramics students.

Kurtz is co-founder of Project Tumara, a non-profit organization that will provide scholarships towards school supplies and tuition to children in Sierra Leone. The mug sale and exhibition from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, December 5 in Mendenhall Student Center Gallery at East Carolina University, where Kurtz is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Art with a focus in Ceramics.

“We are hoping to make this event an annual event that will happen each year in the first week of December. As far as this particular event goes, I began planning it in August and I have been working on various aspects of the event all semester. The thing that I think is so wonderful with this fundraiser is that it allows American students the opportunity to learn about school life in Sierra Leone and allows them to participate in helping students just like them afford an education,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz is a huge supporter of education, which was the main reason she started the non-profit Project Tumara with another ECU student Issa Thullah. “We had the opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone last winter and we met countless children who had to work on the streets selling goods such as water and soda because they couldn’t afford to go to school. We hope to raise enough money to send at least 35 students back to school next year,” she said.

Each mug will be sold for $20 and all proceeds will go towards the scholarship program to ensure that students in Freetown, Sierra Leone can have access to education. To order a mug online, visit

WCU Marching Band Headline 125th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – There’s one more parade left on the itinerary this year for members of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, who opened the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just a few days ago.

And the remaining route will be quite a bit different than the trek through the concrete canyons of New York City, as the band will march across the bucolic WCU campus to help wrap up the university’s yearlong celebration of its 125th year of existence.

Titled the “It’s a Wrap Party,” the event is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 5, as the Pride of the Mountains will lead a parade of students and campus organizations from Scott Residence Hall to the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center, where the band will reprise its Macy’s parade performance.

The “It’s a Wrap Party” also will include remarks from WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher to bring the 125th anniversary year to a close, along with prizes, giveaways, refreshments and special recognition of alumni and students.

Members of the campus and surrounding communities are invited to wear their own sports uniforms, letter jackets or other purple-and-gold apparel and join the band in the cross-campus march. Those who do not wish to participate in the parade may watch the band and others march across campus, or simply arrive at the Ramsey Center and be seated no later than 4:15 p.m. The doors to the Ramsey Center will open at 3 p.m.

The yearlong celebration of WCU’s 125th anniversary began in January as hundreds of people crowded into the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center for a kickoff event highlighted by a fashion show of clothing from throughout WCU history, modeled by students, faculty, staff and community members.

The official 125th anniversary bash was held Aug. 26, the month in which the school that became WCU was founded in 1889. The event, attended by thousands, included a picnic on the University Center lawn, remarks from elected officials, a concert on the Central Plaza and old-fashioned games.

The majority of the year’s celebration was designed around traditional highlights of WCU’s annual calendar, such as spring commencement ceremonies, Mountain Heritage Day, the Spring Literary Festival, Homecoming and alumni receptions across the state and the Southeast.

For more information about the “It’s a Wrap Party,” email [email protected].

Santa Climbs Down the Chimney December 6 and 13

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Despite his doctor’s orders, Santa is at it again! Jolly old St. Nick will be visiting Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park to climb down one of the world’s largest natural chimneys from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 6 and 13. For more than 20 years, Santa Claus has practiced at Chimney Rock for his big evening when he climbs down millions of chimneys worldwide delivering Christmas presents to little boys and girls.

Each weekend, one lucky guest will win a two-hour rock climbing lesson for two with Santa’s professional helpers, Fox Mountain Guides. The winner of each drawing will be announced at 1:30 p.m. and you must be present to win. Chimney Rock has been named one of “10 great places to catch up with Santa” and one of the 10 Best High Places in the World by USA Today. For Park hours, rates and in case of inclement weather, visit

Fearless St. Nick will descend from the top of Chimney Rock on a nearly 200-foot rappel about every 30-45 minutes, weather permitting. When Santa isn’t climbing, kids are invited to visit with him and Mrs. Claus for photo opportunities and enjoy holiday cookies, hot cocoa and kids’ activities. Weather permitting, you can also meet Grady the Groundhog or other live woodland critters that wouldn’t survive at the North Pole. Local poet Eddie Cabbage will be on hand typing “made to order” poems for kids and their parents on his vintage typewriter; donations for the poems are requested. There is no additional cost for the event with paid Park admission.

“Santa on the Chimney has become a much-anticipated annual event that draws folks from all over the region,” said Shannon Quinn-Tucker, PR and Promotions Manager at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. “It’s a very unique and fun way for families to enjoy time together during the holiday season.”

Check off your holiday shopping list with a discount on Annual Passes and a special sale of 25 percent off retail for Annual Passholders on December 1 to 15 at the Sky Lounge Gift Shop. Guests who upgrade their admission to Annual Passes are also eligible for this sale.

For a limited time, new adult Annual Passes are available for only $25 ($3 off regular price) and Grady’s Kids Club Passes for only $10 (a $2 savings) at the Park and in the online store November 28 through December 23. Start saving with discounts on Park retail and dining, along with savings at Biltmore, Mast General Store and many local favorites. To learn about Passholder benefits and buy your upgrade online, visit

The event is sponsored by Fox Mountain Guides and Coffee on the Rocks in Chimney Rock Village.

Watch Santa’s extreme stunt in a 50-second video on YouTube:

Winterfest. After Santa’s big climb on the Chimney, join him for an old-fashioned Christmas in Chimney Rock Village beginning at 3 p.m. Bring your kids for photo opportunities with Santa on Main Street, trolley and hay rides and live music performances. Shops in the Village will stay open late for holiday shopping, and the Old Rock Café will be open for dinner until 7 p.m.

Other community holiday events open to the public include the Annual Chili Cook-off and Tree Lighting from 5-9 p.m. on December 5 at the Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Department and The Gathering Place in Chimney Rock Village, and the Annual Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge Holiday FunRaiser Gala at 6:30-10 p.m. on December 11 at the Lakeview Restaurant at Rumbling Bald resort.

Best known for its stunning 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure and a 26-story elevator that whisks you to the top of Chimney Rock, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park offers scenic hiking trails, guided rock climbing, nature education programs and ancient geological features that attract visitors from around the world. Chimney Rock is located only 45 minutes southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. Call (800) 277-9611 or go to to plan your visit. To learn more about Fox Mountain Guides or book a rock climbing lesson, visit or call (888) 284-8433.




Heating Assistance Applications for Low Income Energy Assistance Program

Monday, November 24th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) will be accepting applications beginning Dec. 1, 2014.

LIEAP is a federally-funded program that provides a one-time vendor payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills during the cold-weather months. Citizens interested in applying should review the application process and the eligibility requirements for the LIEAP benefit, which may be found at

Eligible households which include a person aged 60 and above or at least one disabled person (receiving SSI, SSA or VA disability) receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) can apply Dec. 1.

If funds remain available after Dec. 31, any other eligible households may apply from January through March 2015, or until funds are exhausted.

Applications for Buncombe County residents will be accepted at Eblen Charities located at the Westgate Shopping Plaza in Asheville (50 Westgate Parkway, Asheville, NC 28806).  Those who are unable to apply in person can call (828) 255-3066 to apply over the phone. The completed application will be mailed to applicants to obtain a signature along with instructions and a list of documents needed to process the application.

Residents from other counties in N.C. can apply by contacting their local county Department of Social Services. A list of these offices and contact information is available at

City Manager Announces Succession Plan for Chief of Police

Monday, November 24th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Police Chief William Anderson announced Friday, November 14 his plans for retirement effective December 31.  A recruitment process is underway for his replacement.

City staff expect to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) by the end of November for a high-quality professionally managed recruitment process that includes significant opportunities for community and employee involvement.  With the successful consultant in place by February, the target start date for the new chief will be June 1, 2015.

A key deliverable for the consultant will include a comprehensive input process into preferred candidate characteristics for 1) leading the men and women of the Asheville police department and 2) sustaining and further growing the relationship between the police department and the community.

“The recruitment process will coincide with ongoing, aggressive improvement efforts within the Asheville Police Department,” said City Manager Gary Jackson.  “With many employees already engaged in implementing the APD strategic operating plan, we believe it is important to continue to support their efforts while also providing a reasonable timetable for identifying Asheville’s next police chief.”

Information currently being gathered in the organizational assessment by Matrix Consulting Group will be considered in the recruitment process.  Final reports for both the assessment and the audit being conducted by Johnson Price Sprinkle Public Accountant into certification of radars will be made available for the incoming police Chief.  Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette will continue to provide employee engagement expertise as police department employees continue to implement the department’s strategic operating plan.

In addition to his work with Police Chief Anderson, Fire Chief Scott Burnette will also work closely with the interim police chief who will be in place in enough time to maximize a smooth transition through and after Chief Anderson’s last day.

A-B Tech Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement

Monday, November 24th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – A-B Tech Community College’s Foundation has joined #GivingTuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners – charities, families, businesses and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support, and help create a better world.

Taking place December 2 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping.

The A-B Tech Foundation joined #GivingTuesday to support the Lavender Fund. The Lavender Fund provides scholarship opportunities to support single parents with children at home who want to go back to school to gain the education and confidence needed to change their current situation and become financially independent. The program is designed to help student-parents enroll in college and stay in school. The Foundation also has other initiatives and scholarships to support students.

“#GivingTuesday is a worldwide day of giving focused on ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things.  One of the most extraordinary gifts we can give is access to education. A scholarship is a true game-changer for our community college students.  It gives them an opportunity to create a future with no limits,“ said Sue Olesiuk, Executive Director, A-B Tech Office of College Advancement.

Seeing an opportunity to channel the generous spirit of the holiday season to inspire action around charitable giving, a group of friends and partners, led by the 92nd Street Y (92Y), came together to find ways to promote and celebrate the great American tradition of giving. Thought leaders in philanthropy, social media and grassroots organizing joined with 92Y to explore what is working in modern philanthropy and how to expand these innovations throughout the philanthropic sector.

The concept gained steam, and with the help of the United Nations Foundation and other founding partners, more than 10,000 organizations have joined the movement and are providing creative ways people can embrace #GivingTuesday and collaborate in their giving efforts to create more meaningful results.

“#GivingTuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about community and not just consumerism,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. “The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a better world.”

“I do have moments when I feel overwhelmed but then I think of the people who have invested their time, energy, and finances in me; who say, ‘You can do this.’ Thinking of this empowers me,” said Bethany D., a Lavender Fund recipient at A-B Tech.

Anyone interested in joining A-B Tech’s Foundation #GivingTuesday initiative can visit

UNC Asheville ‘GEARS UP’ to Foster College Readiness in 8 WNC Counties

Monday, November 24th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – UNC Asheville is partnering with Appalachian State University to increase the number of students in eight Western North Carolina counties who are prepared to enter and succeed in college, as part of the GEAR UP program funded by grants from the U.S Department of Education.

GEAR UP – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – is designed to support students as they progress through three distinct transitions: 1) college awareness and readiness; 2) college enrollment; and 3) college achievement, by employing evidence-based support services and resources that are early indicators and predictors of success.

UNC Asheville will offer services and resources to students, parents and teachers in Alleghany, Clay, Graham, Madison, Rutherford, Swain, Wilkes and Yancey counties. GEAR UP will begin with middle school students and expand one grade level each year as students advance through high school and into their first year at a community college or four-year university.

“We are excited to join in this multi-university effort to boost educational achievement across the region,” said UNC Asheville Provost Joseph Urgo. “Here in Asheville, our students and faculty have long been involved in boosting college awareness and readiness through the city school system’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Now, we are moving forward with GEAR UP to expand our engagement with young people throughout Western North Carolina.”

As part of GEAR UP, UNC Asheville will offer its growing roster of professional development seminars, with topics including math, art, chemistry, genetics, and culturally relevant pedagogy to K-12 teachers in the eight target counties. The university also will make available its innovative precollege awareness programs that allow students and their families to think critically about college match and fit; and overnight summer enrichment programs will give students a sample of college life.

UNC Asheville will hire a GEAR UP coordinator to serve as the liaison to school districts connecting teachers, students and parents to campus resources. The GEAR UP grant will cover program activities for seven years; UNC Asheville’s annual GEAR UP budget will be $150,000.

Appalachian State University is coordinating GEAR UP project activities in a total of 11 WNC counties; other partners also include Western Carolina University, Isothermal Community College, Tri-County Community College, Wilkes Community College, Discovery Place and the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

For more information, visit or contact Annie Burton at [email protected] or 828.251.6498.