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Koinonia of Columbia Strengthens Community

It is often said that it takes a village to care for and nurture children and families. A new Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina grantee partner has a vision that embodies this mantra.

“Koinonia of Columbia envisions a diverse network of compassionate people who are anchored deep like a tree at a riverside in the belief that every individual can know and celebrate their God-given skills and talents. When we fly in formation together and when we live and work together the common good, all may know community … KOINONIA!”

seven people gather around a banner

Making a significant positive impact on students.

Koinonia of Columbia is an asset-based community development nonprofit in the community of Eau Claire. The neighborhoods served by Koinonia have a poverty rate of 40%; 64% of households are below 200% of the federal poverty level.

"In 2019, almost all students either improved (55.3 percent) or maintained (29.2 percent) their reading skills over the course of the six-week program."

Last summer, Koinonia hosted a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School — a program that has made a significant positive impact on students in several ways.

When the Foundation witnessed the evidence-based impact that Koinonia’s Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School is having on the community it serves, it proudly awarded the nonprofit with an Immediate Needs grant in 2021 to keep that program moving forward.

“The asset-based community development approach that Koinonia uses to structure its work is a model that we know to be one of the most effective in creating long-term and sustainable change,” says Meredith Mathews, the Foundation’s program director. “The founders and staff of Koinonia are an inspiring example of true community partners.”

"We could not be more excited than to have a partner like Sisters of Charity..."

Asset-based community development builds upon the strengths and potential of a particular community. Koinonia of Columbia is a racially-reconciling, healing presence, anchored in steadfast dependence on God and one another. The group is building community together through Christ by tapping into the skills, knowledge, talents and resources of the people of Eau Claire. Koinonia’s mission is informed by the staff’s belief in safe and healthy communities, equal access to resources and economic opportunity for all.

“We could not be more excited than to have a partner like Sisters of Charity who is so aligned with our mission and vision in terms of caring about and understanding deep systemic causes of poverty, as well as addressing them from an asset and faith-based perspective equally,” says Koinonia Executive Director Kelly Strum. “2021 has been the year in which Koinonia has stepped more deeply into our vision because of partnerships like this. We cannot wait to see the joyful adventure 2022 will bring as we dream, pray and work together! Thank you, Sisters of Charity!”

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