The Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change

In 2006, Mary L. Thomas, chief operating officer of The Spartanburg County Foundation was honored by the Council on Foundations with the Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking.  This prestigious award is a memorial to the creative legacy left to the field of philanthropy by Robert W. Scrivner, long-time director of the Rockefeller Family Fund.  Mary was selected because she best exemplified the imagination, creativity and optimism that were the hallmarks of Scrivner’s distinguished career.  Mary had the courage to lead The Spartanburg County Foundation into a period of innovation and grassroots leadership that even today continues to change the fabric of the Spartanburg community.

With this award came a $10,000 prize, and in the spirit of the award, Mary used the $10,000 as seed money to open the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change Fund and start a similar recognition program in Spartanburg.  Through the support of numerous individuals and the Spartanburg community, Mary’s initial gift has continued to multiply, reaching the fund’s original goal of $100,000.  The Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change honors individuals who, like Mary, are community leaders, innovators, and contributors to community change by addressing critical issues in the Spartanburg community. 

The Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change recognizes the contributions of individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to improving the quality of life in the community. The Spartanburg County Foundation seeks nominees who develop innovative solutions to tackle critical community issues. The recipients seize opportunities to make a difference by offering compassionate leadership, commitment and personal skills, with the ultimate goal of creating a better and brighter tomorrow.

In 2018, The Spartanburg County Foundation celebrates 75 years of impacting lives. Such a milestone offers an opportunity to reflect on decades of successful community partnerships, a rich tradition of innovation, and ongoing philanthropic efforts that impact lives. In keeping with this spirit, the 2018 Mary L. Thomas Award will focus on celebrating the next generation of philanthropists, young people who are committed to improving the community around them. These individuals, ages 12-30 years old, give their time and resources to nonprofit organizations, develop charitable programs, and lead efforts to positively change the lives of others.

The recipient will receive an award at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting and will be honored with a $5,000 grant to be given to a charity selected by the recipient and the Foundation.

Criteria for Selection

Identifying innovative solutions and implementing new ideas that successfully address critical issues facing the Spartanburg community

Community Leadership and Impact
Adding value, providing leadership, and contributing to positive change in the Spartanburg community

Civic Participation and Community Engagement
Investing time and engaging others to contribute to positive community growth and transformation.

Eligibility Requirements

• Nominees must be residents of Spartanburg County, South Carolina.
• Nominees must be ages 12-30 years old. NOTE: Nominees should fall within this range on the date nominations are due (January 19, 2018).
• Nominees must be in good standing ethically, possess a strong sense of integrity and good character.
• The efforts of nominees must be documented during the past 12 months, illustrating the impact made on the Spartanburg community – whether through direct service, philanthropy or drawing attention to a community need.
• The nominee’s project may have been developed in one or more of the following three areas: 1) Inside or outside of the classroom; 2) In partnership with a nonprofit organization or religious institution; 3) Through an initiative or organization started on his/her own or with friends. If the nominee’s project does not align with at least one of the three areas, please explain why the nominee should be considered for the award.
• If the nominee is connected to a Spartanburg County nonprofit organization through paid employment, the individual must demonstrate community impact beyond the scope of his or her job.

For more information, please contact Hilary Lewis.


The deadline for nominations is January 19, 2018, by 5:00 p.m.
To nominate an individual for the 2018 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change, click on the link below.


A word from Sheila Breitweiser, VP/Executive Director of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Foundation (Retired)

Award Archives

2017 Award Recipient: Dr. Gloria Close

2016 Award Recipient: Marlanda Dekine and Scott Neely

2015 Award Recipient: Victor Durrah, Jr.

2013 Award Recipient:   Dr. Craig Burnette

2012 Award RecipientWanda Cheeks

2011 Award Recipient Jim Rutledge

2010 Award Recipient:  Kelley Ezell

2009 Award Recipient:  Benjamin Wright

2008 Award Recipient:  Teresa Loving

2007 Award Recipient:  Mary Ann Deku