New Website Maps Local Waterways

A new website is offering outdoor enthusiasts information on how to better navigate waterways across South Carolina.

Upstate Forever has launched Paddle SC, The website will be updated with additional content on a regular basis and currently includes descriptions of 63 waterways, 108 trip listings, 390 points of interest and 612 river accesses, along with resources to help paddlers navigate coastal tides and river flow gauges.

The nonprofit organization also released new waterproof maps for the Broad and Twelve Mile rivers on Wednesday. The maps are available free of charge at Upstate Forever’s Greenville and Spartanburg offices, local bookstores and local outdoor outfitters. Downloadable maps are also available at and the Paddle SC website.

The Paddle SC website is a part of Upstate Forever’s four-year “Reconnecting People to Rivers” initiative and was developed in partnership with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the S.C. National Heritage Corridor and Palmetto Conservation.

New tech hub to provide resources for Highland residents

New tech hub to provide resources for Highland residents
Alyssa Mulliger Staff Writer @AMulligerSHJ

A plan to provide residents in Spartanburg’s Highland community with life skills, job training and other resources became a reality Wednesday.

The new “Innovation Village” technology hub has launched at the Bethlehem Center on Highland Avenue, giving residents access to more than two dozen computer workstations for workforce readiness and academic enrichment.

“In the Highland community, we’re looking for opportunities to help people with upward mobility, self-sufficiency and to earn a livable wage,” said Patrena Mims, executive director of the Bethlehem Center. “In order to do that, you need skills to move that needle to the next phase.”

Area organizations behind the Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light “Video Village” art installation, including White Elephant Enterprises and hub-ology, were able to create the new technology hub with help from a Spartanburg County Foundation grant.

White Elephant Enterprises repurposed the small Raspberry Pi computers and equipment when the Video Village ended at Cammie Clagett Courts.

The city of Spartanburg will be using state funds to demolish some of the vacant apartments this year.

Of the 52 computers, 25 are in the Innovation Village, three are in the Bethlehem Center’s media arts laboratory and five were given to the Thornton Activity Center, also located in Highland. The remaining computers will be assembled into a fast supercomputer at the Bethlehem Center.

“We’re going to offer workshops on coding, technology, web design and how to use computers,” said Robyn Hussa Farrell, co-founder of White Elephant Enterprises. “It’s just a testament to the power of the community and the strength of this community in Spartanburg.”

The Innovation Village is aimed to not only benefit adults, but also teenagers and young children, many of whom helped assemble the computer workstations with the help of Spartanburg-based Hub City Bees on Wednesday.

“It feels like I’m some type of tech genius,” said Sonny Cheeks, 16, a student at Spartanburg High School who helped put one of the computers together. “I’ve never felt this way before with a computer and it’s nice to see everything new. I’ll probably use the computers for school research.”

Khailk Harris, 10, a student at Pine Street Elementary, helped Cheeks assemble the computer and said he likes coming to the Bethlehem Center for after-school activities.

“I can use (the computers) to look up stuff for school,” Harris said.

Leroy Jeter, president of the Highland Neighborhood Association, who was instrumental in compiling interviews and videos for the Video Village project, said the new technology hub will help further the mission of bringing the community together through ongoing training at the Bethlehem Center.

“We’re going to start with the neighborhood association and learn all we can about the computers and how to program things so we can then teach other people,” Jeter said. “For me, I think there’s a possibility that this can help lead to better jobs for people.”

The Spartanburg County Foundation Awards More Than $149,000 to Fourteen Nonprofit Organizations

The Spartanburg County Foundation awarded $149,150 in grants to 14 nonprofit organizations working to improve the overall well-being of Spartanburg County residents. The grantees address five of the seven Spartanburg Community Indicator Areas: Cultural Vitality, Economy, Education, Public Health, and Social Environment.

Each year, The Spartanburg County Foundation Trustees set an unrestricted budget from the Community Fund and a partnership of other funds to award grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions providing services to the residents of Spartanburg County.

“Unrestricted funding is derived from the generosity of our donors. The Spartanburg County Foundation would not be able to provide financial assistance to area nonprofits without the support of the community,” said Troy Hanna, president & CEO of The Spartanburg County Foundation. “We are proud to partner with these fourteen grantee organizations that are creating positive change in Spartanburg County.”

1. BirthMatters
BirthMatters is the recipient of a $10,000 challenge grant to expand the service capacity of their community-based doulas (health workers) serving young mothers and their infant children. Two doulas will move from part-time to full-time, doubling the number of families they are able to serve. BirthMatters is an innovative home visiting model that bridges the gap between healthcare and social services to provide continuity of care for underserved women and children during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

2. Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate
Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate is the recipient of a $15,000 challenge grant to establish two new Boys & Girls Clubs in Spartanburg District 2 schools – Mayo Elementary and Cooley Springs-Fingerville Elementary. Each after-school Club will serve up to 100 students and focus on enabling students to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate is currently in 14 Spartanburg County schools.

3. Christmas in Action
Christmas in Action is the recipient of an $ 8,657 grant to assist with the Love Your Neighbor Rebuild, a program that will repair approximately 10 homes for elderly homeowners in the Whitney Heights, Southern Shops, and Willow Wood areas. Celebrating 20 years of service to the Spartanburg County community, Christmas in Action rehabilitates the houses of low-income, elderly, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged homeowners to provide for their continued safety and independence.

4. Girls on the Run Spartanburg
Girls on the Run Spartanburg is the recipient of a $7,500 grant to establish new Girls on the Run after-school programs at High Point Academy, McCracken Middle School, and Carver Middle School. Girls on the Run inspires girls, ages 8-13 years old, to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Programs develop self-esteem, self-reliance, and decision-making skills.
5. Junior Achievement of Upstate SC
Junior Achievement of Upstate SC is the recipient of a $4,889 challenge grant to provide program materials for students, teachers, and volunteers at Meeting Street Academy, Carver Middle School, and Spartanburg Early College High School. Junior Achievement inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy. Programs focus on knowledge and skills leading to economic success.

6. Northside Development Corporation
Northside Development Corporation is the recipient of a $10,000 grant to provide loan capital for the START ME Entrepreneur Program. Northside Development Corporation is striving to create a safe and strong Northside community by expanding the economic, educational, and recreational health and social opportunities for residents. The goal of START ME is to connect Northside residents to the larger Spartanburg area entrepreneurial resources with an intentional approach to uncover local entrepreneurs and give access to knowledge, mentors, and capital.

7. Project HOPE Foundation
Project HOPE Foundation is the recipient of a $15,000 grant to assist in renovating their 12,000+ square foot therapeutic clinic for children in downtown Spartanburg. Project HOPE Foundation has served the Upstate of South Carolina for nearly 20 years and strives to lead the way in providing a lifespan of services for individuals living with autism. Evidence-based treatment, behaviorally-based group sessions, and training workshops for families and professionals will be provided in the new facility.

8. Spartanburg County Historical Association
Spartanburg County Historical Association is the recipient of a $10,000 challenge grant to replace the wood shingle roof of Walnut Grove Plantation, a circa 1767 landmark of the American Revolutionary War. This project is part of a larger restoration designed to provide a holistic approach to the visitor experience at Walnut Grove Planation; from entry, through the guided tour, and in self-exploration.

9. Spartanburg Juneteenth, Inc.
Spartanburg Juneteenth, Inc., is the recipient of a $10,000 grant to assist in expanding the 2017 Spartanburg Juneteenth celebration Saturday, June 17th, at Stewart Park. The celebration educates the Spartanburg community about African American history and encourages self-development and respect for all cultures. The event is family-friendly and includes a BBQ competition, historical presentations regarding emancipation and the Civil Rights Movement, a gospel choir competition, and children’s activities.

SWITCH is the recipient of a $15,000 grant to hire a care coordinator that will aid in reducing the recidivism rates of incarcerated women that have a history or current charges of prostitution or know sexual exploitation. SWITCH’s mission is to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the Upstate of South Carolina through awareness, prevention, demand, intervention, and restoration. SWITCH is partnering with the Spartanburg County Detention Center to provide education on available resources and holistic case management opportunities for incarcerated women.

11. The Children’s Security Blanket
The Children’s Security Blanket is the recipient of a $13,216 grant to supplement treatment expenses, offer family support programs, and provide counseling to 10 to 15 Spartanburg County families during their child’s battle with cancer. The Children’s Security Blanket provides financial support and delivers hope to families whose children are facing cancer by connecting those in need with those who can assist.

12. United Way of the Piedmont
United Way of the Piedmont is the recipient of an $8,170 grant to expand services of the Financial Stability Initiative. The Financial Stability Initiative works to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring families have the skills and assets needed for long-term self-sufficiency. Through the Initiative’s expansion, new Benefit Banks will be opened to provide a centralized online application process for Spartanburg County residents to access programs and resources such as food assistance, health coverage, home energy assistance, and much more.

13. Upstate Family Resource Center
Upstate Family Resource Center is the recipient of a $10,820 grant to expand its Family Solutions Program that delivers early behavioral intervention to youth and families. The program provides skills to help reduce truancy, improve communication, reduce problem behaviors, and help youth to realize the importance of education. This multiple family group model enables families to work through problems together.

14. Urban League of the Upstate
Urban League of the Upstate is the recipient of a $10,900 grant to provide student incentives for its Level Up program. Level Up provides comprehensive services to foster care youth, Medicaid clients, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in order to prepare them for a transition out of the welfare system and into an independent and economically sustainable lifestyle. By providing structure, mentoring, job training, and other support, Level Up empowers youth to overcome barriers and build their capacity for the future.
These grants are made possible in partnership with The Spartanburg County Foundation Community Fund; William Stuart Allen Memorial Fund; Bain Foundation Trustee Initiated Fund; The Balmer Foundation, Inc. Trustee Initiated Fund; Lucile M. Cart Cancer Fund; A.K. and Louis H. Caughman Fund; Georgia Cleveland Memorial Fund; Stanley W. Converse Fund; Frank H. and Rosie C. Cunningham Fund; John and Kate Dargan Trustee Initiated Fund; Erwin N. Darrin Fund; Founder’s Fund; Alma and T. R. Garrison Fund; Harriet Smith Harris, Philip Guy Harris, and Philip Guy Harris, Jr. Memorial Fund; The Donald C. Johnston Trustee Initiated Fund; Fred Nash Fund; The Powell Family Fund; Virginia U. Russell Fund; Harry W. Sanders Fund; The Reverend Clay Turner Trustee Initiated Fund; The Emery L. Williams Memorial Fund; and the Arthur Frederick Willis Children’s Fund.

Women Giving for Spartanburg Awards $215,500 in Grants on its 10th Anniversary!

Women Giving for Spartanburg celebrated its tenth anniversary Monday, May 1, 2017 with a Toast to Ten event honoring its inaugural members and awarding $215,500 to six Spartanburg County nonprofits.

“This is an exciting time for Women Giving for Spartanburg as we celebrate 10 years of service to our community,” Chair Marsha Moore said at the annual meeting. “Because of our three founding members, Sally Foster, Tracy Hannah, and Julie Lowry, who had vision and insight, Women Giving has made Spartanburg a better place.  This achievement would not have been possible without the support and commitment of our members.”

In the past ten years, Women Giving for Spartanburg has awarded $2.4 million through 78 grants, assisting 59 organizations in Spartanburg County. Its average grant award is $31,000.

Membership is open to any woman who would like to make a difference in the Spartanburg community. Annual dues are $550 for junior members (ages 35 and under), and $1,100 for regular members. The women’s giving circle also encourages involvement through committee work and events; however, its unique annual grant process gives each member a chance to vote on grant finalists via online or paper ballot.

The group’s grants committee requests grant proposals from local nonprofit organizations each year for innovative projects focusing on areas highlighted by the seven Spartanburg Community Indicators Project areas. After review, site visits, and a grants showcase, the members vote on the organizations to receive money.

“The Grants Committee is the heart of Women Giving.   They work very hard to be good stewards of how our resources are distributed,” Moore added.   “Women Giving has made a positive impact on our community and has improved the quality of life for everyone.”

This year, the following nonprofits will receive a combined total of $215,500 in financial assistance:

  1. Boys & Girls Club of the UpstateThe Places We Go! to fund half the cost of a 72-passenger bus, increasing field trips and transportation for over 1,000 children annually
  2. Christmas In ActionRamp Accessibility Made Possible By Students (R.A.M.P.S) to build 15 wheelchair ramps for Spartanburg’s disabled and elderly citizens
  3. Hub City Farmers’ MarketReinstatement of the Mobile Market Program to implement an innovative walk-in trailer model, delivering healthy, local food to 400 stops a year across Spartanburg County
  4. Mobile Meal Service of Spartanburg County, Inc.: Blast Chiller for Better Food to ensure a safe, quality product for the frozen meals delivered to recipients on days when hot meals cannot be delivered and to expand catering products to sell to volunteers and the Spartanburg community
  5. Spartanburg Soup KitchenOperation Kitchen Rescue to replace aging meal preparation equipment which feeds 350+ daily
  6. The Walker FoundationKid Zone Outdoor Recreational and Learning Park to create a new inclusive and accessible playground park for the SC School for the Deaf and Blind open to the Spartanburg community

John T. Wardlaw Receives Service to Mankind Award

Honoring John T. Wardlaw
Uptown Sertoma Club of Spartanburg – Service to Mankind Award 2016
By Susan Hodge Irwin

The Uptown Sertoma Club of Spartanburg honored John T. Wardlaw as the recipient of the Service to Mankind Award in 2016. The recipient of this award is always an outstanding Spartanburg community member that improves the lives of others, and this year’s recipient is no different.

Mr.Wardlaw has contributed to the Spartanburg community in many ways, such as his service as Trustee and Chairman of The Spartanburg County Foundation, helped establish a Spartanburg presence for Habitat For Humanity, served on the Board of the Housing Authority, presided over the Rotary Club, and as a thoughtful leader supported collaborative efforts between Church of the Advent and the community through St. Luke’s Free Clinic, Mary H. Wright School, and Stop the Violence.

A close friend to Mr. Wardlaw said, “At 72 he could have been traveling, playing golf, or anything else, but he chose to give himself to his community.”

During his time at The Spartanburg County Foundation, he created the Spartanburg Community Indicators Project. As an effort to address the education division of the Indicators Project, he found the Adult Learning Center in downtown Spartanburg. He volunteered his time, without pay, to be the director of the Center for the first 5 years. Because of his dedication, 1,600 people have earned their GED’s thus far.
John Dargan (former CEO of The Spartanburg County Foundation) remarked: “He has made one of the greatest impacts that the County Foundation has ever experienced, particularly in addressing his passions of poverty and education.”

The Rev. Clay Turner described him as a man with a “keen diagnostic mind and a compassionate heart – a servant leader.” His daughter Saunders McCollum calls him “humble and deserving.”

Others use these words: a generous soul, quick to give others credit for his successes; a visionary; hands-on, down to earth; a devoted father to Saunders and her family, and a devoted husband to Putsy.

Ball4Good Presents Gift to Boys and Girls Club and Establishes a Fund at the Foundation

Adom Appiah, a seventh-grade student at Spartanburg Day School and founder of Ball4Good, presented a check to Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate today. On March 26, 2017, Ball4Good held its first Celebrity Basketball Tournament with the help of several community volunteers, sponsors, and his mentor Mary Thomas, chief operating officer of The Spartanburg County Foundation. The event featured local celebrities including Spartanburg Day School junior Zion Williamson. The event drew a crowd of 800 individuals and raised over $7,600 for Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate.

Appiah founded Ball4Good as part of the Day School’s 20 Time Project. Ball4Good’s mission is to support nonprofits and the community through ball tournaments. The Celebrity Basketball Tournament was the first of many fundraising events to be held by Ball4Good. Appiah will organize four fundraising events each year to benefit nonprofits devoted to youth development and homelessness.

Ball4Good has established a fund at The Spartanburg County Foundation to help Appiah fulfill his philanthropic activities. The Spartanburg County Foundation has awarded a $1,000 Just Because grant to the Fund.

“Because of the tremendous outpouring of community support, The Spartanburg County Foundation wanted to help Adom perpetuate his goals by establishing the fund,” said Mary Thomas. “The community foundation exists to allow individuals of all ages fulfill their charitable endeavors.”

Building The Ball4Good Fund is key for Adom’s success. He has secured $4,500 for the Ball4Good fund to date. Anyone interested in supporting Ball4Good may donate here.

Gloria Close Receives the 2017 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change

Spartanburg educator Gloria Close recognized for work helping families living in motels

By Alyssa Mulliger, Staff Writer, Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
The Spartanburg County Foundation recognized Gloria Close as the recipient of the 2017 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change at the foundation’s annual meeting Tuesday evening.

The award honors individuals who are not typically in the limelight but who perform valuable public service at the community level.

Close, an educator with Spartanburg School District 7, was selected to receive the award for her efforts to help families who live in Spartanburg-area motels.

“These motels are not the Marriott — there is no restaurant, no room service, no sauna,” Close said. “These are the least expensive rooms anywhere, rooms that have not seen renovations or new mattresses in 30 years. Often, incidents of drug use, prostitution and domestic violence are simply part of the life seen by these children and their parents.”

Close knew about families who live permanently in motel rooms around the country, but it wasn’t until she saw it firsthand in Spartanburg and got to know the families that she felt she needed to take action.

Close is the founder of C.A.S.T. (Care, Accept, Share, Teach), a program that aims to alleviate poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency. The program is what Close calls an “initiative for the forgotten.”

Through the program, Close and a team of volunteers provide families with groceries and meals, offer a three-week educational summer camp for the children and assist the parents in finding employment and affordable housing.

Pauline Morrison, a woman who has lived at a Spartanburg motel with her family, thanked Close in a video played during the award announcement.

“Now I feel more hopeful for the future, for my kids especially,” Morrison said in the video. “I see a brighter future for them now.”

District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker also praised Close for her work in the community.

“We have 260 kids classified as homeless in our school district alone,” Booker said in the video. “Gloria has really brought to light the challenges that these young people face.”

Since its start in 2015, C.A.S.T. has helped four families move out of motels and into permanent housing. Close’s award included a $5,000 grant, which she intends to use to further the work of C.A.S.T.

“(Children) will be told that they matter and that they can do something with their lives. They can change the direction of their lives,” Close said. “They will no longer be invisible.”


Watch the video below to learn more about Gloria’s work with C.A.S.T.

Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute

Spartanburg students eager to delve into justice system

By Allison M. Roberts,

High school students from Spartanburg and their parents gathered Thursday night to help launch the Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute.

The program is a collaboration between the Spartanburg County clerk of court and the Spartanburg County Foundation. The foundation is providing support for the program and a $15,000 matching grant.

The students who are participating will go through four sessions that introduce them to different areas of local government. They’ll have sessions at Spartanburg City Hall, the Spartanburg County Detention Center, the Sheriff’s Office and the courthouse.

Clerk of court Hope Blackley said she hopes the participants will come away with a positive view of the criminal justice system.

“That’s my goal for them,” Blackley said.

Mary Thomas, chief operating office with the Spartanburg County Foundation, said she wants the students to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system. Ultimately, she hopes their exposure to law enforcement, attorneys and other professionals will spur their interest in a career in the field.

“We hope they get to have a clear understanding of how the system works, because there is so much in social media and in the media in general that portrays it in such a negative light,” Thomas said. “We want to build a community, and the young people is where we have to start.”

David Goodson, 18, a Broome High School student, is an aspiring politician, which is what inspired him to take part in the program. Goodson said politics is an exciting field, and he’s hoping his experiences in the criminal justice youth institute will help prepare him for that.

Goodson said he’s especially looking forward to being in the courtroom. He wants to see the “law and order” of the system and the challenges judges face while trying to make decisions.

Ameera Surka, 16, from Spartanburg Day School, is also looking forward to observing court proceedings.

The criminal justice system and its inner workings are interesting, Surka said, and she’s looking forward to learning more. She said she hopes when the program is over, she can educate people about the criminal justice system and dispel some of the misconceptions.

“Not many people under the age of 18 are going to be able to see things like that because we can’t do jury duty,” Surka said. “I’m really excited to be part of this.”

Sara Hawkins, 16, from Chapman High School, is planning for a career in law enforcement when she’s older. She’s given some thought to being a homicide detective and is eager to see how each branch of local government works.

Like Surka, she wants to leave the program with enough knowledge about the process to educate people who may distrust law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

“I think nowadays law enforcement has a negative view,” Hawkins said. “That’s really disappointing to me, because to me, it’s about making a difference and making the world a better place. I think the biggest thing that will come out of this is people seeing that a lot of these people seriously want to help other people and change the world for the better.”

Welcome Bert Barre, New Trustee!

bert-barreThe Spartanburg County Foundation is pleased to announce the election of Bert D. Barre to the Board of Trustees for a term of seven years.

Mr. Barre is a graduate of Spartanburg High School and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Washington and Lee University. Currently, he serves as a principal of Colonial Trust Company. Colonial Trust is a privately owned trust company and wealth management firm with offices in Spartanburg, Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston and has over $1 billion in assets under advisement.

Mr. Barre brings expertise in finance and accounting to The Spartanburg County Foundation Board of Trustees. He previously worked as an Equity Research Analyst at Wachovia Securities, Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. Barre was awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation by the Association of Investment Management and Research® (now CFA Society®) in 2003 and the Certified Trust Financial Advisor® designation by the Institute of Certified Bankers in 2004.

Barre has served on Fidelity Investments’ Trustee Referral Program Advisory Committee and is a graduate of Leadership Spartanburg. He has served on several boards including the Chapman Cultural Center, the Spartanburg Little Theatre, Spartanburg Community College Foundation, Pine Street School Foundation, TOTAL Ministries, and the Rotary Club of Spartanburg. He has also served as Deacon and Elder at First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg.

Bert and his wife Katherine have three children – Sallie (11), Martha (9), and Dixon (6). When he’s not working and keeping up with three children, Bert enjoys Clemson sports, fitness, and any outdoor activity.

The Foundation is Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 Grassroots Leadership Development Institute


Are you interested in building your resources and skills to be a more effective leader in your community?  The Spartanburg County Foundation is currently accepting applications for its 2017 Grassroots Leadership Development Institute.

Each year, 32 dedicated individuals are selected to participate in the seven month leadership training program, which is designed to equip participants with the knowledge, skill-set, and resources to be effective in leading change at the grassroots level. Participants meet one Saturday a month, March – August with a graduation ceremony in September, to increase their ability to make a positive difference in their neighborhoods and in the greater Spartanburg community. Topics such as developing leadership and organization skills, strengthening communication, leveraging community assets, and thinking strategically will be addressed.

The deadline to apply or nominate an individual for the GLDI 2017 session was 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 21, 2016.

Learn more about GLDI!