March 11, 2013

Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina staff and board visit three strategic grantees

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina staff and board members recently visited College Summit and The Cooperative Ministry in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston. The organizations are three of the foundation’s 2012 strategic grantees.

College Summit, which received a $75,000 grant from the foundation, is dedicated to increasing the college enrollment rates of youth from low-income communities by empowering young people with the tools they need to become a positive influence on their fellow student’s post secondary aspirations. Serving five counties, College Summit works in 13 schools across the state. Foundation staff and board members toured Keenan High School in Richland County, meeting with the school’s principal and several staff members from College Summit. The group observed one of the College Summit classes as they were discussing self-efficacy and the building of a financial tower of power. These activities are part of the 12th grade Milestone Report whereby College Summit tracks 13 main indicators of the seniors, which include their senior year plan; their college list, their personal statements, and application process.

The second foundation visit was to The Cooperative Ministry Solid Ground Program. The foundation awarded $225,000 to this new program that assists low-income single parents and/or families with the tools needed to gain a college education and reach sustainability. The program provides participants with a full-time Solid Ground case manager, provides daycare assistance while they are in school full-time, assistance with gas vouchers and/or bus tickets, and assistance with food, clothes, rent and utilities if needed.

The third visit was to Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB). The food bank was awarded a one-year $60,000 strategic grant for the Food Works Culinary Apprenticeship and Meal Production Program, which works to effectively address the dual challenges of high unemployment in the Charleston metropolitan area and food insecurity. Using the LCFB’s production kitchen, Food Works introduces unemployed and underemployed individuals to a commercial kitchen and familiarizes them with food preparation, kitchen workflow and sanitation procedures. During each 14-week training session, the apprentices receive 400 hours of hands-on kitchen training while preparing approximately 4,000 meals per week for children participating in the Kids Cafe afterschool feeding program and homebound seniors receiving supper from Meals on Wheels.

As a result of the foundation grant and investment, the program has doubled its food production. While there, foundation staff toured the facility and met the current apprentices in the program. One apprentice, Asia, was a single parent. After a change in her home situation, she was able to join this class of apprentices. Asia attends classes each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then leaves to work at a full-time job. Another apprentice, Henry, a veteran who had been homeless several times before said, “This program gave me a new start in life. I was worried about not being able to keep up with the others since I am a little older, but I am the one with the highest GPA in the class. I set the curve.”

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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