The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina recently awarded its Community Enrichment grants for 2017.  The Foundation’s mission to address poverty in all of its forms is reflected in its decision-making around Community Enrichment grants. These grants are designed to provide financial support to organizations whose services go beyond meeting fundamental needs and will help lift people out of poverty.

The following organizations received funding:

Anderson Interfaith Ministries (AIM)
Funding will support AIM’s workforce and education programs which will help clients gain the skills necessary to move from poverty to a livable wage. These programs will allow AIM to address the workforce concerns and equip clients with the tools and training necessary to move out of poverty, while at the same time helping create a qualified pool of skilled workers, resulting in a positive economic impact for Anderson, Oconee, Pickens, and Abbeville communities. Components of the programs include case management, mentoring, child care, transportation assistance, supportive services, GED classes, work ready classes, WorkKeys assessment, Employment Pathways, college degrees, and access to occupational training and certificate programs through TriCounty Technical College (TCTC.) The SNAP2Work education & training programs are available to unemployed or underemployed individuals in the Upstate. AIM also provides training, education, and supportive services in partnership with Adult Education and the local Technical College. (Anderson, Oconee, Pickens, Abbeville Counties)

City of Rock Hill
Funding will support two core programs: 1) The Housing Development Corporation of Rock Hill’s rental assistance program through which residents facing eviction may request up to three months of assistance to alleviate the immediate threat of homelessness. Those accepted into the program will be required to participate in three budgeting counseling sessions. 2) The Catawba Area Coalition for the Homeless (CACH) to support hiring two part-time staff to continue the implementation of the city’s 10 Year Plan to Respond to Homelessness through direct services and program management. CACH is comprised of more than 20 local non-profits and faith-based agencies committed to addressing the issues of homelessness in the community. CACH members currently coordinate resources and communicate with one another through monthly meetings. However, their ability to successfully accomplish CACH programmatic goals is limited due to needing to focus on the day-to-day operations of their individual organizations. The proposed staff will dedicate their time to increasing CACH’s ability to carry out their mission and implement the 10 Year Plan. (York County)

Funding will support CommunityWorks, which was formed in response to the growing community need for affordable financial products and services and alternatives to predatory lending. CommunityWorks Federal Credit Union (CWFCU) was chartered in 2014 and is a mission-based, low-income designated community development credit union that specializes in serving families in the Greenville community who historically have had limited access to safe financial services. Together, CW and CWFCU have developed a financial integrated service delivery model, GOALS: Gaining Opportunity to Assets, Loans, and Savings Program, that provides a network of services including financial coaching, savings accounts, consumer loans, and access to asset building programs such as down payment assistance for first time homebuyers or matched savings accounts. The explicit goal of all programming is to empower families with the mindset, knowledge, skills, and resources to make wise financial decisions and achieve financial stability. (South Carolina, Greenville and Spartanburg Counties)

Compass of Carolina
Funding will support the Domestic Violence Starts Small program at Compass of Carolina which provides free therapy hours for children/adolescents victimized by witnessing domestic violence in their home. Compass of Carolina is known for its strong programs in the area of Family Violence Intervention where they seek to end the cycle of abuse by educating abusers as well as victims, and by placing special emphasis on reaching children and teenagers who grow up in homes where they have observed or experienced violence. As children of domestic violence mature to adolescence, they are at risk of further adverse experiences including unhealthy relationships, coercion into risky sexual encounters and substance abuse, self-injurious behaviors, eating disorders, and suicide. Studies demonstrate that children/adolescents who grow up around domestic violence and experience the cycle of violence repeatedly suffer long-term consequences and without intervention they are at risk of repeating these negative behaviors as adults. The problem is then passed on from generation to generation, and this destructive cycle also leaves families more likely to be mired in poverty. (Greenville County)

Funding will support EdVenture’s Future Leaders program which is designed to impact underserved students in sixth through eighth grades and inspire them to develop life and leadership skills to achieve their education, career, and life goals. Future Leader participants who are living in poverty are given the opportunity to experience educational and enrichment opportunities designed to expand their points of view. Twenty-five students from Williston-Elko Middle School will attend a 12-week Future Leaders program that will include a college tour and tour of a local manufacturing plant where students will hear from company employees that will share their career stories. EdVenture will work with the middle school’s principal and guidance counselors to select students for the program who are from poor, under-resourced households. Future Leaders strengthens STEAM content knowledge and emphasizes development of life and leadership skills through an integrated, project-based learning/teaching strategy, addressing the whole student. While students receive hand-on STEAM programming, parents and caregivers attend programming where they understand and learn about development/education levels for their children; learn about opportunities to be more involved in school and increase home learning; understand and de-bunk education and job myths; and learn about community resources.  (Barnwell County)

Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina
Funding will support the residential program which provides low-income young women ages 10-21 with safe housing, medical care, academic education, counseling, childbirth and parenting education, and job readiness skills. The young women served by the program are either pregnant, parenting, or in foster care. Teen pregnancy is associated with many risk factors and Florence Crittenton Programs (FCP) offers an innovative approach to addressing a wide array of needs faced by this extremely vulnerable population. FCP provides resources for young women to complete their education and gain employment skills, so that they will be able to support their families and move out of poverty. (Charleston County)

Foothills Family resources (FFR)
Funding will support Foothills Family Resources (FFR) which is located in rural Greenville County and predominately serves the populations of Cleveland, Marietta, Slater and Travelers Rest. Since 1986, FFR has consistently filled an important role in the county as a provider of resources to an underserved population beset by generational poverty, lack of transportation, poor healthcare, high unemployment, teen pregnancy and low graduation rates. Funding will be used to move those living in poverty throughout Northern Greenville County from crisis to self-sufficiency. This occurs by first meeting them in their crisis, be that a need for food, utility assistance, mental health counseling, or other services. Once the immediate needs are met, clients are recruited to the more empowering Center for Working Families which focuses on beginning a career in the manufacturing industry via development of the keystone habits of professionalism, which employers have communicated to FFR are most in need. (Greenville County)

Hope Center for Children
Funding will support Hope Center for Children’s transitional living program (TLP) which serves teens and young adults ages 16 to 22, including young parents, who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. The only program of its kind in this geographic area, the program provides up to 18 months of shelter and wrap-around services to teens when they need it most. Founded in 2013 and with capacity to serve eight teens at a time, TLP applies an evidence-based approach that teaches critical skills training to prepare teens for independent living. The program offers housing and living quarters and 24-hour support from staff who care about the youths’ future. Skills built include financial literacy and stability (including credit safety and awareness) interviewing and job readiness, and the importance of savings. Advancing each of these areas ensures that risk of homelessness and poverty is reduced in the future. Youth in the program have achieved great success, measured largely by improvements in their Casey Life Skills, and through the percent who obtain safe housing, acquire a job, and increase their reliable support systems.  (Spartanburg County)

Indian Waters Council, Boy Scouts of America
Funding will support Scoutreach efforts which exists because all youth deserve the chance to grow in safe and healthy ways. Indian Waters Council, Boy Scouts of America achieves this through the ideals and research-based methods of character building programs of Scouting. IWC creates leadership opportunities through fun and challenging outdoor experiences. In the eight counties of the SC Midlands the Indian Waters Council serves, from the wealthiest to several of the poorest, these experiences can increase social capital and improve lives. In both rural counties and urban areas, increasing numbers of youth live in high poverty pocket areas – highly concentrated areas of poverty, with low educational achievement, little if any positive youth development activities and limited community engagement. Funding will support Scoutreach and AmeriCorps: A Partnership for Social Capital which provides affordable leaders to build partnerships, lead programs and train new volunteers. (Richland, Bamberg, Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Orangeburg, Saluda Counties)

Funding will support bGEN (be-gin), which is a business incubator and entrepreneurship initiative started by the Economic Development Team at KNOW2. With two years of design and preparation, the organization launched the project and opened a 2,500 square foot Phase 1 facility in downtown Gaffney in the spring of 2016. bGEN currently serves 12 resident businesses, has helped start 15 new businesses, generated 20 new jobs and has been a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Gaffney. Unlike most business incubators, bGEN is not aimed specifically at high-yield tech companies, instead serving anyone who walks in the door who is willing to work hard to start their own business of any industry or scale. bGEN works from the ground up, with a focus on education and mentoring, with the goal of business generation that leads to community transformation. bGEN was born out of a concern for those in poverty in the area, with the desire to create jobs and industry diversity, and build community relationships. This environment encourages healthy cooperation, personal responsibility and a love for learning and sharing with others. (Cherokee County)

Middle Tyger Community Center
Funding will support Middle Tyger Community Center’s programming that is designed to break the cycle of generational poverty and improve the quality of life for the Spartanburg community. This is done through a combination of concrete resources (healthcare, childcare, emergency assistance) and programs that lead to long term change and financial stability (adult education, preschool education, family counseling, parenting education). This innovative, multi-generational approach addresses the needs of the full family with resources to assist them on the path to family stability. Funding will specifically support the Adolescent Family Life (AFL) Program which is a comprehensive program designed to break the cycle of generational poverty through early intervention in the lives of pregnant and parenting adolescents and their children. The goals of the program are to increase the educational attainment of the young parent, improve parenting skills, and delay subsequent pregnancies until full adulthood. This is accomplished by providing wraparound support for the young family while the mother completes her education. (Spartanburg County)

Midlands Housing Alliance (Transitions)
Funding will support Transitions’ Youth Program serving homeless individuals 18-24 years of age. By developing custom programs and activities to appeal to and support older youth, Transitions can help divert them out of the cycle homelessness to reduce homelessness overall. The Youth Program is designed to link 18-24 year olds with youth-specific programs and classes, including higher education and job training programs. In addition to the resources that everyone receives, YP participants also get a youth case manager to meet with weekly, a weekly youth peer support class that is psychoeducational and empirically based, housing that is peer support based in “extended program” rooms, and field trip opportunities. There is also a community volunteerism component to the youth curriculum, rooted in the belief that by engaging with others in need within the local community, the youth will realize that even as they struggle to get their lives on track, they can make a positive difference in the lives of others and that their life has value and meaning. It also helps educate the community about the homeless youth population. By addressing the issues surrounding the youth and providing intense wrap-around services, Transitions believes it can reduce recidivism for this population and break the cycle of homelessness. (Allendale, Richland, Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, York Counties)

Miss Ruby’s Kids
Funding will support Miss Ruby’s Kids’ Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP). This program is an evidence based, early intervention literacy program that educates caregivers on how to use books and toys to strengthen their child’s expressive and receptive language skills. Through this fun and interactive play, children acquire a love for reading and learning, they are given the tools to enter school prepared to learn and be the best student they can be, and the interaction between caregiver and child strengthens the bond creating happier, healthier families. The Parent-Child Home Program serves families with children between 16 months and 4 years old. Home Visits take place two times a week for 23 weeks for two years. The Parent-Child Home Program bridges the achievement gap for low-income children by strengthening the parent child relationship and, ultimately, increases the language, literacy, and cognitive skills, and the social-emotional development critical to school success. In program year 2017-18, MRK will be launching a pilot program offering the PCHP in a group model held at St. Cyprian’s Church that will allow MRK to serve between 5 and 10 families in one and a half hour visit with only one employee. In addition, the Home Visitor leading these group sessions will be bi-lingual, opening up the opportunity for MRK to serve more Latino families in the Georgetown community. (Georgetown County)

New Directions of Horry County
Funding will support New Directions’ Back to Work/Back to Life program, which helps homeless men, women, and families with children in Horry County break free from the cycle of poverty and homelessness by helping them regain their financial footing, self-confidence, and self-worth and learn to live independently. In addition to providing assistance with food, shelter and safety, New Directions provides individualized case management. Basic needs of food, shelter and safety must be provided to the estimated 225 men, women, and children served each day for them to be able to focus on long term change. Anyone who comes into the Back to Work/Back to Life program — whether a homeless man, woman, or family with children – is at the lowest point of their lives. Some are immediately ready to move forward with a plan and some need time to reflect, and often, grieve their losses. The Case Management team meets with each new program participant within 48 hours of entry into the program for a complete individualized assessment of their needs. Together, the homeless client and case manager establish a plan for moving forward, with one of three goals: gain employment or disability income and permanent housing; reunite with family, who may be estranged or may just be located elsewhere; and/or enter into a long-term recovery program. New Directions Case Managers work with over 30 agency partners to assist clients in confronting and overcoming their underlying issues of homelessness and eliminating the barriers to employment and self-sufficiency. (Horry County)

Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter
Funding will support the Palmetto Place Unaccompanied Youth program which provides shelter and services to teens who have been forced to leave their families and to teens who have never had a family support system. One of the most common barriers seen in this population is the limitations placed on a minor because of their age. At 16, if the youth doesn’t have a parent or legal guardian, it is unlikely he/she will have copies crucial documents needed to gain employment and further an education such as a birth certificate, Social Security card or school records. Not having these documents can cripple the youth’s steps toward success. Additional barriers a homeless minor may face include obtaining a bank account, building credit to one day rent a or buy a car, and/or obtain a driver’s license. With 17 beds, the Unaccompanied Youth program (UY) not only provides food, clothing and shelter for teens, but also prepares them to live independently and reach self-sufficiency. Through the UY program, teens learn the life skills that are necessary to meet their goals for education and employment. This includes sessions on applying for jobs and to colleges, making and managing money, meal planning and grocery shopping on a budget, and many other skills. A lifetime without support and structure can leave a teen underqualified for even the most basic jobs preventing them from ever breaking the cycle of poverty. Palmetto Place not only offers safety and support, but the skills for these youths to grow into successful independent adults. (Charleston, Richland, Sumter, Aiken, Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Florence, Greenville, Greenwood, Horry, Kershaw, Laurens, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Saluda, Spartanburg, and Beaufort Counties)

Teach My People
Funding will support the mission of Teach My People (TMP) to teach students from the Waccamaw schools in Georgetown County to overcome academic, economic and social challenges through the delivery of Christ-centered programs that promote spiritual, educational and emotional health. TMP’s academically focused afterschool and summer programs serve disadvantaged students in the community. What is unique to Teach My People is that they bring in ten new first grade students in the beginning of each summer and follow those ten students through high school graduation and college. The second element that makes TMP unique is that they offer afterschool students a seven-week, academically challenging summer program that allows them to return to school on an academic level competitive to their peers. Teach My People has three academic benchmarks for students: all of TMP students will read on grade level by the third grade, will graduate high school on time, and will avoid the “summer slide.” With food security being an issue for many TMP families, the organization feeds its students a healthy snack each day and dinner each night before they head home. During the summer program, TMP provides a healthy breakfast and lunch to students daily. They have also recently begun packing to-go meals for families with younger siblings not yet in the TMP program who are battling hunger. (Georgetown County)

Sustainability Institute
Funding will support The Sustainability Institute (“SI”) which provides outreach and education to empower consumers to reduce energy bills and achieve verifiable energy savings; workforce training to retool individuals with in-demand certifications and work experience to place them into high-demand, energy industry jobs; community-based energy efficiency programs to directly retrofit, weatherize or upgrade the efficiency of residential housing units to reduce energy use and save families money; and technical consulting and expertise to help cities and other stakeholders develop city-scale strategies for energy efficiency, carbon emissions reduction and energy industry jobs. Grant funding will support the SI Energy Conservation Corps (“ECC”) program. The ECC program addresses two critical needs in the Charleston metro area: 1) Rehabilitation of existing, low-income homes that utilizes a dual focus on direct energy efficiency upgrades and homeowner empowerment in order to significantly reduce unaffordable energy costs for families. 2) Workforce training for economically disadvantaged or underserved populations that is focused on supplying certified workers for a burgeoning energy efficiency industry in South Carolina where specialized-labor is in demand. (Charleston County)

Turning Leaf Project
Funding will support Turning Leaf Project’s efforts to serve adult men who are recently released from incarceration returning to Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Turning Leaf’s mission is to help men who have been assessed at a medium to high risk of re-arrest to change their attitude, thinking and behavior so they can adapt successfully to community based living without re-incarceration. The program is designed to provide participants with what they need to be successful after incarceration — that is, a network of support, the thinking skills to make good decisions, practice coping adaptively with life/work demands, soft work readiness skills, and ultimately a referral to a job and sustained employment in the competitive workforce. This funding will support services that are coordinated from one centralized location, including cognitive behavioral therapy classes, an in-house training class (screen printing), transitional employment, case management, job coaching and permanent job placement. The goal is to reduce recidivism for program participants. By following the guidelines of evidence-based principles, Turning Leaf prioritizes scarce resources for those who have been assessed at a medium or high risk of incarceration and focus on the factors most closely associated with criminal behavior — attitudes, thinking and peers. Turning Leaf recognizes that successful reentry and rehabilitation requires connecting individuals to employment and support systems as they move away from a criminal lifestyle. (Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties)

United Ministries
Funding will support the United Ministries-Interfaith Hospitality Network community which is deeply committed to assisting congregations to help homeless families with children find home and hope in Greenville and the Upstate. In partnership with local congregations and Homes of Hope, United Ministries will provide short-term and intermediate housing assistance and other supportive services to young mothers with children. Many of these young women will have completed the Serenity Place addiction recovery program, and be certified participants in ongoing support programs modelled after Anderson Interfaith Ministries’ Women and Children Succeeding program. United Ministries expects at least 75% of those participating in this Upstate Collaboration for Families’ Success (UCFS) to obtain permanent housing through Homes of Hope, many through the LoCAL housing initiative. It is the expectation that at least three-fourths of those who complete all aspects of the UCFS program will remain employed and in stable housing for at least a year. In the ultimate phase of the UCFS housing continuum, families will use the knowledge and skills they have acquired to maintain steady employment, set up savings accounts, and settle into housing that is adequate and affordable for their families (i.e., housing costs do not exceed 30% of total household income) to approach self-sufficiency. (Greenville and Laurens Counties)

United Way of the Piedmont
Funding will support the United Way of the Piedmont’s scalable transportation-to-work pilot program. The overall goal of the program is to provide affordable roundtrips to work to low-income, transportation disadvantaged individuals in Spartanburg County. In this public-private partnership, a local, existing transportation company called Light Transportation (similar to Uber) will take employees to and from work and home. Employees will receive a discount code unique to their level of need to ensure affordability of transport. Employers, job training sites, and nonprofits will identify eligible participants who would benefit from the service. The transportation service will pick up groups of 2-4 employees, organizing pick up/drop off points with clusters of employees who live in similar areas with common work hours. While this service is a long-term transportation solution, it can also benefit employees who find themselves in a short-term/temporary situation without a vehicle, providing stability in a time of crisis. The transportation-to-work pilot will open up employment opportunities for individuals without transportation and for whom public transportation is not an option. For those who currently rely on family members or coworkers for transportation to work, this service will allow them an alternative that could lead to opportunities that aren’t restricted by the schedules of others. In addition, the on-demand nature of the service will reduce absenteeism for those who are experiencing a crisis related to transportation. (Spartanburg County)

Village Group’s Plantersville Summer Academy
Funding will support Plantersville Summer Academy (PSA) which began in 2009 with 77 students, growing to 256 in 2016, providing remedial education and academic enrichment. In this program, PSA serves largely low-income, single-parent families with students in grades 1-9 using certified teachers along with a host of other support staff, including teaching aids, bus drivers, janitors, food services and administrative support. PSA serves students through tutoring, homework assistance, recreation, character education, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), mentoring, entrepreneurship experiences and meals/snacks. PSA is designed to address several areas of opportunity: Eliminate the need for child care during the bulk of the summer with bus transportation from 9 sites; provide each youth two nutritional meals and a snack each day; offer mentoring and classes to advance understanding of math and literacy; acquaint and challenge the students with a STEAM-related project; expose the youth to a larger world of experience; model appropriate public behavior; and through the academics, STEAM activities, expanded experiences and public behavior opportunities, close the “learning gap” that exists for many students from low-income families. (Georgetown County)

Funding will support WINGS for Kids, which is a proven education program that teaches economically disadvantaged kids skills to improve behavior, decision-making, and healthy relationship building. WINGS does this by weaving a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum into a fresh and fun after school program in elementary schools. Students get the life lessons they need to succeed and be happy, and they get a safe place to call home after school. Despite a growing need, there is no other afterschool program focused on SEL in the state of South Carolina. Students are referred into the afterschool program by teachers and principals based on their struggles in school and lack of family support at home. WINGS for Kids works with students in need three hours per day. WINGS is free to families and provides at-risk students with a powerful social-emotional education, direct academic support, valuable mentoring, and enrichment opportunities, plus a hot meal and bus transportation home each night. The families must commit their child to a full year of participation in the WINGS program and cannot use it on a drop-in basis because each lesson builds upon the other. With this grant, funds will support the WINGS program in three low-income schools in the Charleston area: Chicora School of Communications, Edmund A. Burns Elementary and North Charleston Elementary school. (Charleston County)