North Carolina’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives celebrate 145 outstanding educators

RALEIGH, N.C. –North Carolina’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives are awarding $185,000 in Bright Ideas education grants to 145 teachers at the 13th annual Bright Ideas Grant Awards Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 5. Grant winners and their administrators will represent 22 counties in the Triangle and surrounding areas.

“The Bright Ideas Luncheon is an opportunity for us to recognize local teachers whose commitment to education and their students has earned them grant funding for a learning project that would otherwise be paid for from their own pockets or not be possible,” said Lindsey Listrom, community relations specialist for the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives. “We’re proud to partner with these outstanding teachers who go the extra mile for their students by supporting their efforts with Bright Ideas grants.”

Teachers attending the luncheon are from Alamance, Bladen, Caswell, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Durham, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Orange, Pender, Person, Pitt, Sampson, Wake, Wayne and Wilson counties.

The luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Dail Club within N.C. State University’s Carter-Finley Stadium. Follow the live-tweet of the event from @NCElectricCoop using the hashtag #NCBrightIdeas.

Kim Bearden, in her keynote address, will draw on 27 years of experience in the classroom to motivate, inspire, and remind grant-winners and administrators of the powerful impact they have on students. Bearden is the cofounder, executive director, and language arts teacher at the highly-acclaimed Ron Clark Academy, an innovative middle school and educator training facility in Atlanta. She is also the author of “Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me,” released by Simon and Schuster in July 2014. Known for her creativity and dynamic teaching styles, Bearden has received numerous awards including Disney American Teacher Awards’ Outstanding Middle School Humanities Teacher and the Milken Family Foundation Award for Excellence in Education.

Sponsoring the grants recognized at the awards luncheon are Central Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), based in Sanford; Four County EMC, Burgaw; North Carolina EMC, Raleigh; Piedmont Electric, Hillsborough; South River EMC, Dunn; and Wake Electric, Wake Forest.

The Bright Ideas program awards grants to North Carolina teachers for creative, classroom-based projects. Since the program’s inception in 1994, North Carolina’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives have funded more than 9,200 Bright Ideas projects and awarded more than $9.6 million in Bright Ideas grants to Tar Heel teachers, reaching more than 1.8 million students in subjects including math, reading, science and technology, music and the arts. This year the state’s electric cooperatives will distribute close to $600,000 to teachers statewide. Grant applications are accepted from April through September. North Carolina K-12 teachers may learn more at

The Bright Ideas education grant program is an example of the electric cooperatives’ commitment to community. North Carolina’s electric cooperatives serve 2.5 million people in 93 of the state’s 100 counties.