Harold T. Sumner Professional Education Grants

Harold Townsend Sumner demonstrated in words and actions his belief that good citizens working together through independent charitable organizations are critical to improving quality of life in Gaston County. He was a co-founder and constant leader of the Community Foundation’s efforts to effectively assemble and manage long-term charitable funds on behalf of local philanthropists and the operating charitable organizations. He also pictured the Foundation as a role model in encouraging philanthropy.

The Foundation sees this plan as a permanent tribute to Mr. Sumner’s service that is consistent with his vision for the community and the Foundation’s own mission.

The Program: Harold T. Sumner Professional Education Grants are given to independent nonprofit organizations in Gaston County. The grants will be awarded to independent charitable, cultural, or educational organizations that seek financing for professional training/education for a key staff member with at least one year of service in the nominating organization. Preference is giving for training that is local / in-state.

  • Awards will be based on direct nomination by a tax-exempt community organization meeting normal Foundation standards for grants from its unrestricted Funds on behalf of one of its staff members. Organizations that receive the grant will not be eligible to apply for the grant cycle the following year.
  • The maximum amount awarded in this year will be $5,000. The Foundation may grant either one or more grants from that total amount. However, no grant will be made if, in the Foundation’s sole discretion, no deserving applications are received.
  • Governmental agencies are not eligible for grants. Neither churches nor private schools can apply unless the duties of the individual applicant are clearly and totally in community programs as opposed to internal programs of the church or school.
  • The Foundation will establish a committee to select recipients in a fair and competitive manner. Key criteria will include the non-profit staff member’s professional record and the potential for positive results to benefit the nominating organization.

The Foundation is currently accepting nominations for the 2024 Harold T. Sumner Professional Education Grants. The deadline to submit an online application is Wednesday, July 10th by 11:59pm. Only online applications will be considered. Please contact the Foundation's Grants Officer, Nina Greene, with questions regarding the Sumner Grants.


"I have learned so much at the Forum and cannot wait to share this information with our YMCA organization. The whole time I was there I was so thankful for this opportunity that was given to me."

- Sharon Padgett, COO of the Gaston County Family YMCA and 2014 recipient of the Sumner Education Grant.