Bright Ideas Grant Applicants Awarded “Early Bird” Prizes

The early bird gets the worm, and for five lucky North Carolina teachers, that worm came in the form of a prize for submitting their applications to the Bright Ideas education grant program before the early bird deadline.

The winners were chosen at random from the nearly 400 teachers across the state who submitted a Bright Ideas grant application by the Aug. 15 deadline.

The five teachers who won a prize this year are:

Wake Electric’s early bird winner, Tamara Carpenter (left), and Tri-County EMC’s winners, Jessi Kennedy (middle) and Catherine Lynch (right), pose with their prizes. Source: Wake Electric/Tri-County EMC.

Each of the winners received a $100 gift card, presented by their local electric cooperative. Several of NC’s electric cooperatives also conduct their own local early bird drawings and award prizes to teachers throughout their service territories.

Surry-Yadkin EMC Surprises Teacher with Early Bird Prize

“Surry-Yadkin EMC is honored to host one of this year’s Bright Ideas early bird winners, Alicia Fallaw,” said Wendy Wood, communications & community relations manager at Surry-Yadkin EMC. “She was so excited to be surprised with the $100 gift card in front of her first graders. Congratulations to Alicia and all of this year’s winners!”

Mrs. Fallaw, a first-grade teacher at Flat Rock Elementary School, has been awarded multiple grants from Surry-Yadkin EMC over the last several years and recently appeared on the co-op’s podcast, “Energized!” to talk about the impact of Bright Ideas education grants.

Alicia Fallow (middle), is awarded an early bird prize by Wendy Wood (left), communications & community relations manager at Surry-Yadkin EMC, and Ross Scott (right), interim principal at Flat Rock Elementary. Source: Surry-Yadkin EMC.

“Bright Ideas is a phenomenal way for teachers to partner with Surry-Yadkin EMC to provide things for their classrooms that they would not normally be able to provide,” Fallaw said during the podcast episode. “The great thing about it is that it wasn’t just for my classroom, I can share those resources with other teachers in my grade level and school.”

Bright Ideas Grants Impacting Classrooms Across NC

The Bright Ideas education grant program is a shared initiative of all 26 electric co-ops in North Carolina. Collectively, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have awarded more than $15 million in grant funding supporting over 14,200 innovative classroom projects.

South River EMC’s winner, Hannah Dandoy, receives her prize alongside Julie McLeod, communications & public relations coordinator at South River EMC, and Stephanie Matarese. principal at Alderman Road Elementary. Source: South River EMC.

Bright Ideas grants have benefited well over 3.5 million students across the state since the program’s inception in 1994. The cooperatives expect to award more than $700,000 in grants to fund over 600 projects this year.

The 2023 grant winners will be announced in October and November and the application for 2024 grants will open on Apr. 1, 2024. For more information on the Bright Ideas education grant program, visit