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$418,700 awarded to 16 Midlands nonprofits for community improvement projects

Central Carolina Community Foundation awarded $418,700 to 16 organizations this year through its Connected Communities Grant. The 16 nonprofits will launch projects to improve the quality of life in the Midlands by building a more livable, equitable, and just community to live, work, play and raise a family.

In its ninth year, the Community Foundation’s Connected Communities Grant has helped connect residents to their communities. Since 2016, $3,258,273 has been awarded to support local projects.

Grant project proposals were focused on one of the six areas identified by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as the most essential elements of an attractive, vibrant and equitable community.

This year’s grant recipients presented ideas that increased residents’ access to safe places to live and work, healthcare facilities and services, quality job opportunities, affordable housing, safe, proximal, high-quality recreational areas, and quality arts and cultural events.

Connected Communities Grants are special because they increase Midlands residents’ quality of life and community attachment, shares Program Officer Trimease Carter. “Each funded project meets a need for residents in our community, and we are happy to support these efforts.” 

Connected Communities Grants are funded by the Foundation’s Community Impact Endowment Fund and several Field of Interest funds. These funds were established with generous gifts from visionary donors who knew their unrestricted gifts would allow the Foundation to respond to the ever-changing needs and opportunities in the Midlands for generations.

The selected projects are in Fairfield, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, and Sumter counties but will serve residents in CCCF’s entire 11-county service area.

The Foundation has approved the following projects and will be funded by Connected Communities Grants:

2024 Connected Communities Grant Recipients 

Virtual Care Kiosk

Virtual Care Kiosk is a partnership between Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center dba Cooperative Health, a federally qualified health center, and Blackjack Baptist Church. This project enables Fairfield County residents with chronic conditions to see a provider virtually through a medical kiosk at the Church to receive patient education, behavioral health counseling, prescriptions conveniently and affordably, and assistance with the costs of prescriptions and transportation. This year’s project will also include a nutrition component. Partnerships with Fairfield County Council on Aging and FarmaSis will allow those visiting the Kisok to receive fresh fruits and vegetables. Recipes and literature will accompany the produce to encourage healthier meal preparation methods depending on purchased items. 

Chapin Art Trail

Crooked Creek Art League partners with the Town of Chapin and local businesses to highlight the vibrant arts scene in Chapin and surrounding Lake Murray communities. The Chapin Art Trail beautifies the community and provides an attractive and memorable journey that enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. Through a website and promotional materials listing authorized public works of art and art-related sites in the greater Chapin area, the trail enables residents and visitors to engage in an ongoing self-guided tour of the area as they visit the many public artworks.

The Village in Winnsboro – A Community of Fairfield Educators

The Fairfield County School District Education Foundation is building the first residential housing development for teachers in South Carolina and one of the first in the nation. This initiative is intended to address the issue of recruitment and retention of teachers in the rural Fairfield County district by offering individual three-bedroom and two-bath homes for teachers to rent at below-market rates. 

Girl Grow

This project provides free mental health services to women and girls in the Midlands, focusing on expanding the nonprofit’s Girl Grow program through targeted group therapy and mental health workshops at local HBCU campuses. Girl Get Up Society’s growing partnership with the City of Columbia and the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) also expands their Girl Grow and Girl Power programs, offering onsite group therapy and specialized mental health workshops in volatile communities. In addition, the organization will host a community wellness event featuring onsite mental health screenings and resources.

Expanded Medical Outreach to the Hispanic Community in Lexington County, South Carolina

The Good Samaritan Clinic will expand to a new site at 2525 Augusta Highway, Lexington, SC 29072. This expansion is the next phase in bringing proactive health care to the Hispanic community, primarily serving migrant workers who cannot travel to the Clinic’s other Midlands locations. This expansion will also increase the outreach and responsibilities of Good Samaritan’s Community Health Workers (CHW) in providing preventative services to their patients.

Envision the Midlands

Envision the Midlands is upscaling the Affordable Eye Surgery Program, expanding access to an innovative solution to vision health that will save sight for individuals experiencing poverty. Vision is the gateway to our quality of life, mental health, safety, and connectedness to the community. Without effective intervention, the number of blind and visually impaired people will double by 2030. This program provides that intervention and mobilizes a coalition of healthcare partners and philanthropists to create sustainable solutions for sight. In their third year of Connected Communities support for Envision the Midlands, Lions Vision Services has aimed to expand services to unserved counties, increase the impact of pre-and post-operative physician appointment support, and save and restore sight for vulnerable blind or visually impaired Midlands residents.

Bethel Cultural Center Technical Theater Crew Project 2024

This grant request supports a second year and expansion of the 2023 pilot program. The Bethel Cultural Center Technical Theatre Crew Project directly challenges inequitable barriers to access stagecraft trades. The projects seek to increase racial diversity by offering technical theatre training and production support to high school students and young adults in Columbia, South Carolina.

Walls That Speak

Walls That Speak is a community-driven initiative to bring the medium of mural art to the forefront of Orangeburg County. Through the collaborative efforts of local artists and residents, Orangeburg County Community of Character aims to create a captivating mural that celebrates the community’s rich history and unique identity, fostering positive character traits, reflecting its values, and promoting unity. This mural will enhance the cultural landscape and serve as a symbol of the enduring character that defines Orangeburg and a source of inspiration for future generations. 

Bringing Hope to Mental Health

The number one problem for people living with mental illness is isolation – with 87% being unemployed. Our Place of Hope is based on a proven model that focuses on meaningful work and meaningful relationships for those 18 and older living with mental illness in the Midlands. It is a paradigm shift that creates a culture of meaning, purpose, and hope where members are needed rather than treated.

Reconciliation Ministries Community Space Development Initiative

One of the most integral components of recovery is successful integration into the community, which cannot happen without focusing on committing to relationships. Reconciliation Ministries’ (RM) neighborhood lacks community-minded spaces that promote relationship development between the nonprofit, residents, family, friends, and the public and community. This project aims to serve their community by constructing a picnic pavilion area, a recreational playground space with room for games, and a bus stop that prioritizes enhancing the safety of children and keeping them out of the weather.

The SC Philharmonic presents “Music in My Neighborhood”

While the SC Philharmonic is best known for its performances of live symphonic music on stage at the Koger Center, orchestra members and staff work closely with local partners to develop inclusive educational outreach programs to fill the community’s needs. Simply put, not everyone can drive to downtown Columbia and pay for parking and a concert ticket – and they shouldn’t have to. “Music in My Neighborhood” is an innovative community program that provides a full week of ensemble performances, interactive educational programs, and unique collaborations. The pilot program is serving the Town of Irmo.

Enhancing Community-Based Senior Programming at The Lourie Center

Senior Resources’ community-based senior programs offer diverse initiatives, services, and activities to enhance the lives of older adults in Richland County. These programs are integral in fostering healthy aging, addressing social isolation, and improving the overall well-being of its senior citizens. Through a recent merger with The Lourie Center, their commitment is to establish a more inclusive and connected community, providing older adults in Richland County opportunities to connect and fostering a deep sense of community and belonging. This project will raise awareness of social isolation and the Lourie Center, develop high-quality new programs, and enhance existing classes at the Lourie Center.

Si Se Puede: A Community-Driven Movement for Trust and Safety Between the Hispanic Community and First Responders

Serve & Connect seeks to expand the success of Se Puede, a community-driven movement focused on creating relationships between the vibrant Hispanic community and first responders to reduce fear and promote safety and wellness. With the continued support of Central Carolina Community Foundation, Serve & Connect will expand and strengthen the foundation of this important effort in Lexington County and expand to Richland County via increased connection to public safety resources. Se Puede creates collaboration and breaks down barriers of distrust to promote safety, wellness, and support while celebrating the community’s diversity.

Shiloh Project-Lift Recreational Program

Shiloh Project-Lift, Inc. plans to renovate a basketball court, softball field, and walking path at St. John School of Lynchburg, Sumter County, South Carolina. These recreational activities will provide a wide range of benefits for the children, youth, adults, and seniors of Shiloh-St. John communities. The project will also provide coaches, assistants, field supervisors, supplies, and equipment with a registration and enrollment system and policies and procedures for ground use.

Project Empower

The B Strong Group will continue to host a series of monthly workshops called Project Empower, which will include various programs designed to support the advocacy of parents and caregivers of those with sickle cell disease. Their priorities will address the lack of education and create more awareness of treatment, social challenges, and other complications of sickle cell disease to create healthier communities ultimately. The B Strong Group will serve all those impacted by sickle cell disease, regardless of age, ethnicity, and financial status, in Richland County, South Carolina, and its surrounding areas.

Advancing Menstrual Equity in the Midlands

To increase the quality of life via access to essential menstrual health supplies that support physical and mental health, The Period Project will raise awareness of period poverty and its effect on school attendance, career growth, and economic development. The nonprofit will deliver impactful solutions through advocacy and community-based partnerships.

With help from the grant, the nonprofit will supply 8,000 period packs in partnership with schools, public libraries, and supportive and medical services agencies across nine Midlands counties. The Period Project will organize Midland communities’ “Pop-Up Packing Party” one-day events in Orangeburg, Winnsboro, and Saluda Counties.