Economic Development Program

The Economic Development Program provides information and referral services to North Carolina state-recognized tribes and organizations, American Indian citizens and organizations interested in economic development enterprises and business start-up or expansion.  The Commission does not have business loans or grant funds available. We suggest contacting local banks and lending institutions and reviewing the information contained in the links below for additional business information and resources.  

Business Resources

All Business Resources

Doing Business in NC

Launching an NC Business

Small Business & Tech Development Center

Small Business Administration

THRIVE Digest: Quarterly Business Newsletter

To promote economic development within American Indian communities, the Commission of Indian Affairs has created a quarterly business newsletter to empower American Indian communities with the knowledge and resources needed for economic success. Each newsletter will share important information, opportunities and success stories.

Read the first THRIVE Digest

Supporting Undergraduate Native Students (SUNS) — Make Your College Dreams Reality

Education has long been a predictor of economic prosperity. Seeing this need, the Commission created the Supporting Undergraduate Native Students (SUNS) Program. The SUNS Program provides financial assistance to help eligible American Indian undergraduate students pay for college tuition or related expenses during the fall and spring semesters only. Through educational scholarships, incentive payments and support services, SUNS helps North Carolina's American Indian students make their college dreams a reality.


Scholarships help eligible students with college tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment and uniforms. Tuition funds are awarded only to students who do not receive other financial aid or whose aid does not cover the total cost of attendance if an invoice is submitted the same month as the start of the semester. Students may be reimbursed for books, supplies, equipment and uniforms for current classes if receipts are submitted the same month as the start of the semester.

Please note we cannot reimburse expenses paid using financial aid or other financial assistance.

Incentive Payments

Semester completion payments are awarded each academic term to students with a 2.0 GPA or higher. Students must submit a copy of their transcript or grade report the same month the semester ends.

Graduation incentive payments are given once students provide verification of graduation and degree awarded. Students must submit verification the same month they graduate and have earned at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.

Academic Success Workshop

This required one-day workshop, held each May, provides SUNS program participants with an opportunity to learn about various topics and network with other Native students in a business atmosphere, while learning skills needed to be successful.

Requirements for Students

  • Meet income requirements.
  • Be an enrolled member of a North Carolina state-recognized tribe.
  • Enrolled as a full-time student (12 credit hours or more) in a North Carolina-based accredited community college or university (excludes seniors who will graduate during the current year).
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA or greater throughout the program.
  • Attend Annual Academic Success Workshop.


To receive SUNS funding, a student’s total gross household income must be at or below 125% of federal poverty guidelines OR the student must be considered an independent student.

Independent students are those who meet two or more of the following criteria. Only their income would be used to determine eligibility.

  • 18 years old or older.
  • Have children/dependents.
  • Live separately from parents for 7 or more months during the year.
  • Receive less than 50% of their financial support from their parents. Students have income consisting of financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans), wages, etc.

Students seeking a graduate degree or a second bachelor’s degree are not eligible.

Learn More

For additional information about the program, and eligibility, or to apply, please contact Kimberly Hammonds, Program Director at 984-236-0163 or to request a SUNS Program application.

This program is funded by a small grant award received from the NC Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Economic Opportunity, Community Services Block Grant Program.

The SUNS Program is contingent upon the availability of program funds. Benefit amounts will vary depending on the number of students eligible and the amount of funding received.

Terms and conditions subject to change or end without notice.