Central Carolina Community Foundation on Wednesday announced the seven local nonprofits that will launch new projects to enrich the Midlands region with funding from the Foundation’s second annual Connected Communities grants.
In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Foundation’s first Connected Communities grants funded local programs such as What’s Next Midlands, a crowdsourced regional improvement program championed by EngenuitySC; The Nickelodeon Theatre’s Indie Grits at the River, enabling the Indie Grits Film Festival to offer free admission for all events for the first time; and educational opportunities in conjunction with the “From Marilyn to Mao – Andy Warhol’s Famous Faces” exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art, bringing the works of the world-famous artist to downtown Columbia, S.C.
Returning for 2016-17, the Connected Communities grant initiative aims to answer the questions, “What makes residents love where they live?” and “What draws them in and keeps them there?” Through this grant program, the Foundation funds philanthropic projects – spearheaded by Midlands nonprofits – based on these answers, with the common goal of further connecting residents to the community and knitting the Midlands region together.
The nonprofit grant recipients presented innovative ideas to the Foundation that embrace one or more of the following three focus areas, identified by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup as the three most important elements of an attractive community: Welcoming Community, which promotes and encourages open and inclusive activities and programs; Vibrant Social Offerings, which support the availability of community events, arts and culture opportunities; and Superb Public Spaces, which enhance the beauty and physical setting of the Midlands community.
Through the Connected Communities grant initiative, the Foundation seeks to strengthen our region by investing in our community’s assets. Each selected project encourages citizen involvement and community-wide collaboration.
“The projects selected relate directly to our quality of life and enrich our community in meaningful ways,” said JoAnn Turnquist, president & CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “We look forward to working with these organizations throughout the next year and watching their projects unfold.”
Connected Communities grants are funded by the Foundation’s Community Impact Endowment (CIE) and Field of Interest funds for the arts. These endowed funds are comprised of generous gifts from visionary donors who knew that their unrestricted gifts would allow the Community Foundation to respond to the ever changing needs and opportunities in our community for generations to come. These gifts have allowed the Foundation to create the Connected Communities grant initiative and projects like Midlands Gives – which raised more than $1.6 million for 382 nonprofits on May 3, 2016.
Through the Connected Communities grants, the Foundation and its donors can leverage philanthropy to positively impact the attractiveness of the Midlands community, ensuring that residents of our region “love where they live.”
2016-17 Connected Communities Grant Recipients
The following projects have been approved by the Foundation and will be funded by Connected Communities grants:
- Columbia Museum of Art: “Cut! Costume and the Cinema” – Visitors will peek behind the scenes into the craftsmanship and artistry of cinematic costume design with this international arts and education exhibition, including 43 costumes from 25 well-known films, depicting five centuries of history, drama and comedy. The exhibit, which aims to draw new, cross-generational audiences to the Midlands, will be on display at the Columbia Museum of Art fromNovember 18, 2016 to February 19, 2017.
- Doko Meadows Park Foundation Amphitheatre Project – First-class performances and arts and community events will have a new home within Blythewood’s 25-acre, master-planned Doko Meadows Park, where the Doko Meadows Park Foundation will construct a new amphitheater, welcoming audiences and visitors of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ages and abilities.
- EngenuitySC: What’s Next Midlands – Economic development nonprofit EngenuitySC will launch its second year of What’s Next Midlands, the collaborative crowdsourcing program aimed to gather great ideas for Midlands improvement from residents, and then connect those ideas with the community, capital and volunteers needed to turn them into reality. The program will complete one publicly vetted and approved project per quarter. The first What’s Next Midlands project to be funded has recently added brightly colored, metal patio tables and chairs along Main Street to add social seating during events and peak times.
- Riverbanks Society: Waterfall Junction at Riverbanks Botanical Garden – Waterfall Junction – a brand new attraction within the Riverbanks Botanical Garden, which opened in April 2016 – shelters three acres of ponds, creeks, falls and meadows; inviting visitors of all ages to connect with nature through hands-on exploration, imaginative learning and social offerings. The grant provides funding for public gathering and education sites within the new attraction.
- South Carolina Philharmonic: Conduct the Phil – The S.C. Philharmonic expands their successful pop-up, interactive experience that allows the public to conduct the orchestra; holding Conduct the Phil sessions in isolated areas of the community to interact with new audiences including the homeless, mentally challenged, incarcerated, physically ill and at-risk youth populations.
- South Carolina State Museum: RACE: Are We So Different? – The concept of race is scientifically and culturally examined, pondered and challenged at the S.C. State Museum’s new exhibit, which explores three primary themes – the science of human variation, the history of the idea of race and the contemporary experience of race and racism in the U.S. – and explains why we should celebrate our differences. Associated programs complement the exhibit, displayed from June 11 to September 11, 2016.
- The Jasper Project: Marked by the Water – In commemoration of the first anniversary of the devastating South Carolina flood in October 2015, local artists and community members of the Midlands will collaborate and produce a multi-disciplinary community arts project, featuring visual art, literary elements, music and dance. Funding from the Foundation will support the publication of a book containing collected works from this project.
Central Carolina Community Foundation will work to measure the impact of the Connected Communities grants on each grantee’s project and will report progress annually.
For more information about Connected Communities grants, visit www.yourfoundation.org/community-impact/connected-communities or call 803.254.5601.
About Central Carolina Community Foundation:
Central Carolina Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.yourfoundation.org or call 803.254.5601.
Pictured: a young man conducting the SC Philharmonic in a program funded by a Connected Communities grant (photo courtesy of Randy Jones)