Vision: Spartanburg County will be the best educated County in the state of South Carolina.
What began initially as a study regarding the effects of low degree attainment rates on the County’s economic development evolved into a four-year journey of convening and strategic planning around a critical need in Spartanburg County – educational attainment.
In 2007, the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce formed a task force to examine the impact of low educational attainment rates on the County’s economic development. Upon review, they came to a bleak realization – only 19 percent of adults, age 25 and older, have earned a bachelor’s degree. Falling well below national and state averages, the task force proposed adoption of The 40/30 Challenge, which challenges 40 percent of Spartanburg County residents ages 25 and above to hold a bachelor’s degree by the year 2030.
The following year, the Chamber commissioned The Spartanburg County Foundation to provide leadership in determining the feasibility of the Challenge and creation of a strategic plan. The Foundation spent two years convening more than 200 community leaders and education experts, researching best practices, and identifying opportunities for collaboration.
After an initial investment of approximately $200,000 in staff, funding, and community meetings, the strategic plan was finalized. The primary focus included the establishment of the College Hub, envisioning that it would be a centralized resource within the County to advocate educational attainment, actively support college-bound and college students, and promote return-to-learn initiatives.
Because of the impact on the future of Spartanburg County, the Foundation felt it was imperative to continue incubation of the initiative, focusing on the implementation of strong governance, financial infrastructure, and sustainability. The Foundation recruited an inaugural board, developed organizational by-laws, and continued its incubation of the initiative until December 2010, when the structure of the College Hub was set in place.
At its annual meeting in March 2011, the Foundation presented a $500,000 lead challenge grant to the College Hub as seed funding in a continued effort to show support and further promote sustainability. The grant is being paid over three years to support the College Hub’s operational budget.
In 2012, the College Hub merged with the Children’s Services Alliance, which served as a network engaging pre-K providers and agencies, to form the Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM). The Spartanburg Academic Movement is an all-in partnership of schools and colleges, businesses, governments, foundations, faith communities and individuals across Spartanburg County in pursuit of high levels of educational achievement. Its goal is to measure academic accomplishments that matter – cradle to career; set achievement targets that escalate annually; align networks in pursuit of these targets; and report progress with persistent regularity.
For more information about the Spartanburg Academic Movement, visit www.learnwithsam.org.
The Spartanburg Academic Movement is located at:
349 East Main Street, Suite 101
Spartanburg, SC 29302