(Columbia, SC) —Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ local center for philanthropy, has awarded Connected Community grants totaling $315,148 to 11 nonprofit organizations. The organizations will launch projects that 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.
The Community Foundation’s Connected Communities grant initiative helps connect residents to their community and knits the Midlands region together. Since inception, grants totaling $2,375,869 have been awarded to support local projects.
Grant project proposals were focused on one or more of the areas identified by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Gallup and On the Table Community Survey as the most important elements of an attractive 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.
“Through the Connected Communities grant initiative, the Foundation strives to build a livable, equitable and just community to live, work, play and raise a family. Each selected project is designed to engage residents and build on the community’s existing assets.” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We’re proud to support these organizations’ efforts to connect our communities.”
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 our region for generations.
The selected projects will serve residents in Richland, Lexington, Sumter, Fairfield, Kershaw and Lee Counties. 27% of the funded organizations are led by a person of color.
2021 Connected Communities Grant Recipients
The following projects have been approved by the Foundation and will be funded by Connected Communities grants:
·Acercamiento Hispano de Carolina del Sur / South Carolina Hispanic Outreach, “La Vida Sana / The Healthy Life” will use community guidelines to promote understanding between the Latino populations of Lexington and Richland Counties and the wider community. Participants will have regular opportunities to share experiences at community gatherings and to help with the construction of a playground at the West Columbia garden.
·Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity, “Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Best Practice” will follow their blueprint for revitalizing neighborhoods to build affordable housing, make neighborhoods safe and repair homes. The neighborhood revitalization program will repair the homes of 10 low-income families in Richland and Lexington Counties.
·City of Cayce, “The Cayce Connection,” will build upon the redevelopment and revitalization of State and Frink Streets by connecting the Riverwalk with their redeveloped downtown to create a thriving, vibrant and connected community.
·ColaJazz Foundation will host enhanced livestream concerts through “ColaJazz Presents Livestream Jazz,” offering musicians a professional virtual venue to connect with diverse communities throughout the Midlands and the state. This project aims to support musicians, provide live jazz safely throughout communities and foster an increasing audience for jazz.
·Gills Creek Watershed Association will engage Richland County officials, City of Columbia officials, residents within a one-mile walking distance of Columbia’s Timberlane Drive and other stakeholders to develop an action and design plan for “A Community Urban Oasis.” The urban oasis will be a safe recreational area connecting residents within a one-mile walking distance of Timberland Drive.
·Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc. (MIRCI) will complete the predevelopment phase of “MIRCI’s Youth Home,” a home for youth identifying as female who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The Youth Home will address the need for more affordable housing, particularly for underserved populations, and will link residents to essential resources for independent living.
·Palmetto Conservation Foundation, “Enhancing Community through Safe Outdoor Recreation on the Palmetto Trail” will increase community awareness and use of safe, high-quality recreation on the Palmetto Trail in Newberry, Richland and Sumter Counties by offering training for volunteers, guided hikes and cycling outings.
·Serve & Connect will grow meaningful connections among residents, law enforcement and community services through its “Pop-up Peace Series.” This community-driven outreach initiative seeks to foster safe spaces to live and work by providing a sense of belonging and self-empowerment to community members.
· Sumter County Cultural Center, “Creative Canvas” is an outdoor mural project meant to create vibrant and welcoming spaces, adding vitality to the city while making quality art accessible to all residents. Buildings will become giant canvases illustrating the city’s collective story—encouraging people to explore and experience Sumter’s diverse and historic communities.
·UofSC McKissick Museum will restore and enhance community access to the nationally acclaimed “Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden” that self-taught, African American horticulturalist Pearl Fryar created just outside the Bishopville city limit in Lee County. This project ensures students and teachers, church groups, garden clubs, and other visitors can take guided and self-guided garden tours.
·UofSC Center for Civil Rights History and Research, “A Community Engagement Strategy for Justice for All: South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement” will develop outreach tools for K-12 schools, creating community conversation guides and soliciting oral histories to help audiences engage with the “Justice for All” traveling exhibit and make connections to present day issues.
For more information about Connected Communities grants, visit www.yourfoundation.org/community-impact/connected-communities or call 803-254-5601.