The Beaufort Fund expands its efforts

by | February 22, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 20, 2019 at 9:29 am

The Beaufort Fund enters its third decade with a growth spurt.
The Beaufort Fund, managed by Coastal Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization serving coastal South Carolina, announced that 89 organizations across Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties received grants from the fund in 2018, a 50-percent increase from the previous year.
Since it was established in 1998, The Beaufort Fund Grant Program has distributed $9.3 million to organizations in the southern Lowcountry region. Now in its 21st year, the fund’s impact is expanding.
Among the organizations provided grants by The Beaufort Fund are organizations that are both based in Colleton County and organizations that provide services throughout the region.
Some Colleton County organizations, like Colleton County First Steps, Colleton County Memorial Library and the Colleton Center, have benefitted from a relationship with The Beaufort Fund over the years. Others, like the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society and Four Holes Indian Organization Inc., are beginning that relationship.
This is the second year that the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society has been awarded a Beaufort Fund grant, said Sarah Miller, CCHAPS historian.
The society plans to use the funds to increase the number of visitors to CCHAPS headquarters. “Our goal is to increase visitors to the Bedon-Lucas House.  “This year, we will add rotating exhibits highlighting artifacts in our collections,” she explained.
“We will be open for tours during the Rice Festival and will hold open houses to share history with more visitors,” Miller added.
One of the organizations that fits into the second category is Camp Wildwood Summer Day Camp, the only program in Hampton, Allendale, Colleton and Jasper counties that provides a fully-staffed public pool where children can learn to swim. Swimming a critical skill in a region surrounded by water, but it’s not one that’s taught in public schools in these counties.
“We’ve been doing this for going on 27 years, and I believe that we have made a great difference in the amount of water-related accidents in this area,” said Camp Wildwood Executive Director James Black, adding the camp is largely possible because of the annual support of the Foundation’s Beaufort Fund. “Over the years, it’s been like the lifeblood of the program, financially,” he said.
For the last five years Camp Wildwood has welcomed Colleton County youngsters who learn to swim through the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office’s summer learning program, headed by School Resource Officer Jimmy Wiggins.
Wiggins said that Camp Wildwood has provided the children of Colleton County valuable swimming lessons and other outdoor programs. Last year, 60 county children took advantage of the annual program.
The Beaufort Fund also provides grants to organizations from outside the county’s borders that assist Colleton County residents. Organizations like Lowcountry Food Bank, Inc.; Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation; Father-to-Father Project, Inc.; the American Cancer Society; American Heart Association and American National Red Cross.
For the 2018 grant cycle, the Foundation restructured its selection process to provide more opportunities for organizations of all types and sizes to access the funding. Three categories were created to suit the needs of small, large and first-time applicants — an approach that allowed the foundation to evaluate organizations that are similar in fiscal scope, life cycle and programmatic impact. In the past, all applicants competed for the same pool of funds.
As a result, the foundation was able to award funds to 30 more organizations than in 2017. The 89 grantees in 2018 received a combined $704,600.
“We saw the need to ensure organizations of all scopes and sizes were given equal opportunities to compete for funding,” said Program Officer Veronica Hemmingway, who leads The Beaufort Fund Grant Program. “We now have new organizations that weren’t in the mix before, and that’s what we want.”
The program area is mostly rural, so nonprofits in these communities typically have a limited donor pool from which to draw support. However, they’re often serving some of the greatest needs in the region. For decades, the Beaufort Fund has helped sustain these essential programs.
Improving education in coastal South Carolina is one of the three top priorities identified in the foundation’s civic engagement agenda and will be a central focus for the foundation’s work moving forward. The civic engagement agenda was created last year to identify and direct resources to key issues facing the nine coastal counties in the foundation’s service area.
The process involved small group discussions with more than 500 residents along the coastline, and the top three issues that emerged were: access to economic opportunity, education and affordable places and inclusive spaces.
The foundation serves Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry and Jasper counties. To learn more, visit coastalcommunityfoundation.org or call (843) 723-3635.

Colleton County grantees
1) Colleton Center (Arts, Culture & Humanities)
2) Colleton County Arts Council, Inc. (Arts, Culture & Humanities)
3) Colleton County Council on Aging, Inc. (Human Services)
4) Colleton County First Steps (Education)
5) Colleton County Historical & Preservation Society (Education)
6) Colleton County Memorial Library (Education)
7) Colleton Habitat for Humanity, Inc. (Human Services)
8) Four Holes Indian Organization Edisto Trial Inc. (Health)

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