Students at will work with executives to “improve and expand” business in rural communities with funding support from

The Rocky Mount-based economic group will provide $331,000 for the UNC-Chapel Hill for Student Teams Achieving Results (STAR).

The grant was one of seven totaling $3.46 million in grants announced by Golden LEAF on Thursday.

"Distressed communities need help more than ever in these hard economic times," said Golden LEAF board chair Tommy Bunn. "I’m proud to be a part of a foundation that can help bring opportunities to these communities and help them move toward a brighter future."

The grants also included:

  • Up to $100,000 for a feasibility study focusing on broadband availability in Caswell County
  • $580,000 for a work force training facility in Caswell County that would be shared by Caswell schools and Piedmont Community College
  • $1.15 million for digital classrooms and technology support in Warren County schools
  • $800,000 to help renovate a former National Guard Armory in Warrenton
  • $150,000 for work force skills training improvement and tools at Rockingham Community College
  • $35 0,000 for renovations and up-fitting to establish a health clinic in Bladen County

Golden LEAF oversees one half of the funds awarded to North Carolina as part of a national settlement with tobacco companies in 1998.