WNC Honors Awards


The WNC Honors Awards have a long, rich history stretching back to 1950.  Each year, WNC Communities evaluates the applications of community centers across twenty counties of WNC and gives cash awards to community centers that have offered quality programs to serve their residents’ needs and exhibited “best in class” practices.

Starting in 2021, WNC Communities established a tiered system of rating community centers’ capacity to serve their communities to improve the Social Determinants of Health.  In their applications, communities demonstrate they have developed competencies that designate them as having one of four levels of increasing sophistication and community impact: Trillium, Mountain Laurel, Redbud, or White Oak. These levels become the basis for identifying targeted assistance to communities in the WNC Honors Program to build their capacity to move the needle on Education Access & Quality, Economic Stability, Community Well-being, Environmental Stewardship and Health Access.  Each community is evaluated across six areas of competency to determine their level: Good Governance, Leadership Excellence, Financial Stewardship, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention, Community Programs and Civic Engagement, and Collaboration.  To learn more about the levels and competencies, see our WNC Honors Program Levels.

As a foundation for improving programs addressing these needs, the WNC Honors Program promotes leadership and collaboration among the communities and with local and regional partners through its offerings.  WNC Communities offers online workshops, Coffee Hours, regional convenings, and training to active members. Communities at the Redbud and White Oak level may also be eligible for strategic planning and coaching to advance their goals.

Each November, the WNC Honors Awards event is an opportunity for community clubs across the mountains to come together to celebrate and receive recognition, cash awards, and promotions to the next level for the work they have accomplished during the year.  It also gives all members an opportunity to learn about best practices from across WNC.

To be eligible to be a part of the WNC Honors Awards Program, a community must:

  • be formally organized with a president and other officers working together to improve the quality of life for all residents, and be engaging a broad range of community residents in various programs that have an impact on families, seniors and youth;  
  • submit an application by an individual authorized by your club to do so; and
  • be an established community center that has been active in the WNC Communities’ Honors Awards program in the past, or if a new organization, it must be replacing a club that is no longer active. WNC Communities reserves the right to define eligibility.  

The applications are available by July and are due to our office at the end of August or early September. All eligible communities that submit a completed application will receive recognition and a cash award at the annual WNC Honors Awards event.

If your community is located in one of the twenty western-most counties of NC and would like to be a part of the WNC Honors Awards Program, contact our office at (828) 252-4783.