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.

Foundation Now Accepting Nominations for 2017 Mary L. Thomas Award

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The Spartanburg County Foundation is accepting nominations for the Annual Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change. This annual award honors individuals who have worked to improve the quality of life in Spartanburg County with innovation, leadership and civic participation.  The recipient will be presented with an award at The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Annual Meeting March 28, 2017 and will be honored with a $5,000 grant to be given to a charity selected by the recipient and the Foundation.

Through the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change, The Spartanburg County Foundation seeks to recognize residents of Spartanburg County who are not typically in the limelight but who perform valuable public service at the community level. Individuals nominated should be connected to a Spartanburg County nonprofit organization either as a volunteer or through paid employment. Paid employees must demonstrate community impact beyond the scope of their job.  When selecting the recipient, the committee will look for individuals or groups who, within the last year, have made a positive impact on the community through one or more innovative projects and who meet the following criteria:

Innovation:  Bringing new ideas to fruition in tackling critical issues facing the Spartanburg community.

Community Leader:  Adding value, providing leadership and being a change agent in the Spartanburg community.

Civic Participation, Engagement and Broad Community Impact:  Demonstrating leadership in working with the Spartanburg community, and particularly the grassroots community, in bringing about positive community change; and effectively engaging all segments of the community in problem solving.

The Mary L. Thomas Award is a legacy from Thomas’s 2006 recognition as recipient of the prestigious Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking. Upon receiving the Scrivner award $10,000 cash prize, Thomas chose to use the funds as seed money to open the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change Fund in order to start a similar recognition program in Spartanburg. Through the support of the Spartanburg community, Thomas’s initial gift of $10,000 continues to multiply and has exceeded $100,000, enabling the Foundation to permanently endow the award. Thomas, chief operating officer of The Spartanburg County Foundation, is known for leading the Foundation into a period of innovation and grassroots leadership. The award will honor individuals who, like Mary, are community leaders, innovators and contributors to community change.

The deadline for nominations is January 10, 2017.  To nominate an individual or group for the 2017 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change, click the link below.


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!

2016 Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service

Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service Raises over $21,000 for Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network (SPIHN)

Watch the Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service, hosted at First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg, by clicking the video below.


SPIHN to receive $21,000 to help homeless families

By Allison M. Roberts, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

More than $20,000 was raised Tuesday night for a program that helps homeless families get back on their feet.

This year’s Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service at First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, sponsored by The Spartanburg County Foundation and the Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance, raised money for the Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network, a local nonprofit that assists homeless children and their families.

At the service, $13,555.01 was collected from those in attendance. The Spartanburg County Foundation gave $5,000, and an anonymous donor pledged to match $2,500 of it. All total, $21,055.01 will be donated to SPIHN.

“The bar has been set very high this year, perhaps close to doubling the take from last year,” said the Rev. Sally Beth Shore of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Spartanburg, just before announcing the amount.

Shore said it takes about $5,000 a year to support each family that goes through SPIHN.

“I imagine they’d be deeply touched if they knew of the work of this community coming together just for one night to make this all happen in the coming year,” Shore said.

The Rev. J. Edward Morris of the Episcopal Church of the Advent urged those who attended to give generously to help those families who have unexpectedly found themselves in transition.

Morris recalled a list of people from the Bible who found themselves in some kind of transition at some point in their lives. He said he kept thinking of what it’s like to be without a home, and hoped those in attendance would help SPIHN serve those families.

“SPIHN knows about transition. It knows about the difficulties and challenges that face family,” Morris said. “I’m pleased, proud and humbled as the Episcopal Church of the Advent to be one of the 16 churches in this community that hosts SPIHN families a week at a time. They move in and we host them, feeding and providing a warm, safe place to lay their head.”

Beth Rutherford, executive director of Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network, said she was honored to be part of the service and talked about the organization’s work.

SPIHN helps provide life skills to homeless families, and it works with 16 local churches that provide overnight shelters and food. Volunteers from the churches have converted classrooms into sleeping areas so families can stay together during that moment of crisis, Rutherford said.

If the adults in the family aren’t working, they come to the day center, where a case manager works with them on life skills such as budgeting, financial responsibility and parenting, Rutherford said.

The goal is to help them get back on their feet and teach them the necessary skills to be self-sufficient once they leave SPIHN, Rutherford said.

“We do everything we can do to help our families become sustainable once they leave SPIHN,” Rutherford said.

The Spartanburg County Foundation Awards $129,490 to Fifteen Nonprofit Organizations

p1130161The Spartanburg County Foundation awarded $129,490 in capacity-building grants to 15 nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents across all seven Spartanburg Community Indicator Areas: Civic Health, Cultural Vitality, Economy, Education, Natural Environment, Public Health, and Social Environment. Recipients were recognized at an awards ceremony Monday, November 7, 2016, at The Spartanburg County Foundation.

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 serving Spartanburg County. The recipients of the Fall Grant Cycle received funding to build the capacity of their organizations in order to help fulfill their missions and positively impact the greater Spartanburg County community.

In 2016, The Spartanburg County Foundation has awarded more than $336,000 through The Community Fund. “The Community Fund offers the opportunity for anyone to be a philanthropist. The grants awarded today are made possible by the generosity of the Spartanburg community,” said Troy Hanna, President and CEO of The Spartanburg County Foundation. “We are grateful for the partnership with our donors as we connect vital resources to dedicated nonprofit organizations who work diligently to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents each day.”

1. American Legion Post 28
American Legion Post 28 is the recipient of a $10,000 challenge grant toward the purchase of a 15-passenger bus to transport the Post’s Honor Guard and equipment to funerals, parades, and concerts. Post 28 provides an Honor Guard squadron free-of-charge to support any veteran’s funeral, regardless of military discharge.

2. The Bethlehem Center
The Bethlehem Center is the recipient of a $15,000 grant to create a computer lab that will transform the organization into a technology hub. The technology equipment currently used in the “Highland Video Village” for Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light will be converted into computers with monitors and keyboards. This project will create an opportunity for individuals living in the Highland community to take advantage of computer training and other educational classes.

3. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Upstate, Inc.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Upstate, Inc., is the recipient of a $2,500 grant to install a new telephone system in its Spartanburg office. This system will replace the current system, which is more than thirty years old.

4. Hub City Farmer’s Market
Hub City Farmer’s Market is the recipient of a $12,000 challenge grant toward the purchase of a new truck to utilize for their Mobile Market. The Mobile Market carries food across Spartanburg County, providing greater access to healthy, local food for residents who have limited access to sources of healthy food. The Mobile Market made 400 stops across the Spartanburg County in 2015.

5. Mental Fitness, Inc.
Mental Fitness, Inc., is the recipient of a $7,500 grant to create and implement a strategic marketing plan. The ultimate goal is to connect more evidence-based mental health programs to Spartanburg County families.

6. Middle Tyger Community Center
Middle Tyger Community Center is the recipient of a $2,500 grant to conduct a sustainability matrix assessment. The matrix will evaluate each of Middle Tyger Community Center’s programs and activities to determine mission impact and financial viability. The matrix will also be utilized to make strategic decisions to maximize long-term impact and sustainability.

7. Music Foundation of Spartanburg
Music Foundation of Spartanburg is the recipient of a $7,960 grant to create a new website for the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra. The website will have an interactive component to engage the community in the Orchestra’s worldwide search for a new conductor. This project creates an opportunity for the community to have a voice in the conductor selection process.

8. SC Test Prep
SC Test Prep is the recipient of a $5,000 grant to conduct a comprehensive organizational evaluation. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of SC Test Prep since its inception as well as to create a clearly defined path forward as the organization continues to build capacity.

9. Spartanburg Area Conservancy, Inc.
Spartanburg Area Conservancy, Inc., is the recipient of a $7,500 grant to develop a sustainability plan through the assistance of a professional fundraising consultant. Additionally, a portion of the funding for this project will assist with preparing a renewal application for national accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance.

10. Spartanburg County School District Six
Spartanburg County School District Six is the recipient of an $8,000 grant to create a strategic plan for the District’s Farm to School Program. Spartanburg School District Six is one of the few school districts in South Carolina implementing a farm to school program on a district-wide level. The strategic plan will guide the District in how to best implement different components such as farm education, procurement, school gardens, and community involvement.

11. St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic, Inc.
St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic is the recipient of a $12,000 grant to hire a free clinic expert who will explore alternative free clinic models and expansion/satellite locations in Spartanburg County. This project will enable the organization to determine how they can best serve the uninsured in Spartanburg County.

12. Temple Education Ministries
Temple Education Ministries is the recipient of a $15,000 grant to obtain a temperature controlled walk-in freezer that will accommodate frozen meats. The freezer’s capacity will enhance the organization’s development of a unique program that consistently incorporates more meats into Take Home Blessing Bags.

13. The Shepherd’s Center of Spartanburg, SC, Inc.
The Shepherd’s Center of Spartanburg, SC, Inc., is the recipient of an $8,580 grant to create a digital marketing plan. This project will improve the organization’s visibility in the community and increase senior participation.

14. The Walker Foundation
The Walker Foundation is the recipient of a $9,350 grant to create a strategic plan as part of its rebranding efforts. The Walker Foundation seeks to raise awareness of the organization to stakeholders while also raising awareness of the services provided by the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.

15. Women Giving for Spartanburg
Women Giving for Spartanburg is the recipient of a $6,600 grant to create a strategic plan. This plan will set the direction for the initiative over the next five years and will outline key priorities and goals for the next several years. Women Giving for Spartanburg, an initiative of The Spartanburg County Foundation, is designed to maximize women’s leadership in philanthropy by engaging and informing its membership, increasing charitable contributions, and significantly improving the greater Spartanburg County community through the impact of collective giving.

These grants are made possible in partnership with The Spartanburg County Foundation Community Fund; Jim D. and Johnnie G. Adams Trustee Initiated Fund; Arkwright Foundation, Inc. Trustee Initiated Fund; Rose and Vic Bailey, Jr. Trustee Initiated Fund; Bain Foundation Trustee Initiated Fund; The Barnet Foundation Trust, Inc. Trustee Initiated Fund; A.K. and Lois H. Caughman Fund; The Martha C. Chapman Trustee Initiated Fund; Stanley W. Converse Fund; Erwin N. Darrin Fund; Miller Foster Family Trustee Initiated Fund ; Robert E. Gregory, Jr. and Marie H. Gregory Trustee Initiated Fund; Tracy and Thomas E. Hannah Trustee Initiated Fund; Harriet Smith Harris, Philip Guy Harris, and Philip Guy Harris, Jr. Memorial Fund; Inman-Riverdale Foundation Trustee Initiated Fund; Betty and George Dean Johnson Trustee Initiated Fund; The Donald C. Johnston, Jr. and Ann M. Johnston Trustee Initiated Fund; The R.E. and Marion Littlejohn P Trustee Initiated Fund; Betty James and Walter S. Montgomery, Jr. Trustee Initiated Fund; John and Lynne Poole Trustee Initiated Fund; The Powell Family Fund; Virginia U. Russell Fund; Harry W. Sanders Fund; Shepherd Johnston Memorial Fund; The Reverend Clay and Jane Turner Trustee Initiated Fund; The Emery L. Williams Memorial Fund; Arthur Frederick Willis Childrens Fund; and Zimmerli Foundation, Inc. Trustee Initiated Fund.

FLSA Law Change

The Fair Labor Standards Act overtime law change will affect many nonprofits and faith communities…but how do we prepare?

The Joint Funders and Chapman Cultural Center held a convening Tuesday, September 27, 2016, to discuss the basics of the FLSA law change, how to be compliant from a legal and human resources perspective, and to provide examples of peer plans for the changes that will take affect December 1, 2016.

Below are additional resources from the panelists to assist your organization with the transition.

Department of Labor Overtime Guidance for Nonprofits
Tips for Addressing the Department of Labor’s New Overtime Expansion
FLSA White Collar Exemption Flow Chart

“Impact of New Overtime Rules”: This webinar and others can be found in the Weekly Wednesday Webinar Archives on SCANPO’s website.

Congratulations to the Grassroots Leadership Development Institute Class of 2016!

A new class of the Grassroots Leadership Development Institute will graduate during a ceremony held at The Piedmont Club Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Nearly 30 Spartanburg County residents graduated during the ceremony and will embark on a new journey to improve the community by utilizing the skills they have gleaned over the past seven months. Over 150 Graduates and community leaders were in attendance. Scott Neely, Director of Project for Community Transformation, shared an inspirational message regarding the importance of coming together in unity._1mo2068

The Grassroots Leadership Development Institute is a special initiative of The Spartanburg County Foundation. This seven- month leadership training program 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 to increase their ability to make a positive difference in their neighborhoods and in the greater Spartanburg community.

Since its inception in 2004, more than 280 individuals have graduated from the Institute and serve the community in various leadership roles. For the past ten years, the City of Spartanburg has joined the Foundation as a sponsor by sending several of the City’s local neighborhood leaders through the Institute, thereby increasing their ability to bring about significant change in their neighborhoods.

“We are honored to have partnered with the City of Spartanburg for the past 10 years to offer this important leadership program to Spartanburg County residents,” said Troy Hanna, President and CEO of The Spartanburg County Foundation. “We are excited to see this leadership program grow and develop quality individuals who will continue to improve the greatest needs in our community.”

_1mo2016The 2016 Grassroots Leadership Development Institute graduates are Stevonna Anderson; Dana Bertolino; Stacey Bevill; Cynthia Renee Brown; William Cleveland, III; Chris Cornelius; Lisa Hawgood Cox; Misty Dillard; Sabrina Eason; Maricela Garcia; Kelly Harvey; Dwayne Hatchett; Jonathan Hawj; Dwayne Hoskins, BA, DC; Chip Johnson; Jennifer Land; Deborah McClary; J. Bates McKinney; Vanessa Mormon; Cody Owens; Cindy Parris; Anthony Sartor; Charles Scurry; Glenda Sims, PhD, RN; Karen Smith; Selena Smith; Terrie Smith; Vernon Smith; Shonda Tucker.


Foundation Welcomes New Director of Finance

Randy JonesAfter an extensive search for a finance professional, The Spartanburg County Foundation is pleased to announce that Randy F. Jones has joined the Foundation Team as Director of Finance.

Randy is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and brings a broad knowledge of financial and business planning, accounting, and financial analysis.  He also brings expanded experience in leading the implementation of internal management software systems.

Randy has extensive experience in leading financial processes in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.  Randy most recently worked for ReGenesis Healthcare, where he was a crucial asset to the Finance Team.  He also served as Senior Accountant for Upward Sports for 5 years and as Director of Finance and Loss Prevention for Revman International, Inc. for nearly 20 years.  In these roles, he managed finance and accounting functions, coordinated and led on annual external audits, and improved policies and procedures to ensure timely and accurate financial reporting.

Randy is a native of Greer and currently resides in Campobello with his wife Lisa.  He serves as a Deacon at Holly Springs Baptist Church and enjoys playing frisbee with his German Shepherd, photography, and fly fishing.  Randy began his tenure at the Foundation Monday, August 29, 2016.