The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is one of many community funders in the Southeast, and there’s been trending growth among this type of funder in the region in recent years. I recently spoke again with Janine Lee at the Southeastern Council of Foundations about community funder activity in the Southeast. Stay tuned for some big picture insights that we’ve been gathering about the role of community foundations down here.
But in the meantime, one particular foundation highlighted today, the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, has been around since 1994 and has a four-county focus in South Carolina: Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper. This foundation came onto our radar because of a big local commitment it just made to five nonprofit groups nearby, totaling over $180,494.
Now this is a funder that has a competitive grants program that nonprofits can apply to, as well as donor-advised funds that aren’t open to applications. This is a pretty typical setup for community foundations in the Southeast. As long as the organizations and programs stay local, pretty much anything you can think of can get funded: arts & culture, community development, education, environment, health, human services, religious organizations, and scholarships too.
Since this funder’s focus is pretty broad, we wanted to take a closer look at the foundation’s most recent round of grants to see where local priorities are falling. One big trend here is youth, and programs geared towards the Lowcountry’s youngest residents really came out on top.
In fact, four of the five recent grants went to organizations that serve youth: The Boys and Girls Club of Bluffton, The Children’s Center, Port Royal Sound Foundation, and Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina. All of these grants were between $19,172 and $75,000 and addressed different issues concerning youth. These issues include literacy, engagement of Hispanic girls, technology improvements, and environmental conservation. Although youth isn’t a specific grantmaking category at this foundation, it appears to be a top cause of concern that it often touches on through funding in various issue areas.
The only recent grant that didn’t fall under the youth umbrella was a $32,400 one to Jasper Bluffton Volunteers in Medicine. This free clinic for uninsured residents received a capacity building-type grant that will help develop a marketing plan to produce promotional materials about services provided. Nonprofit strengthening and capacity building is a big part of this community funder's overall mission.
This funder makes grant decisions three times per year. The next deadline coming up is December 1, for which grant proposals will be considered in late March. Keep in mind that it’s a requirement that you attend a grants information session at the community foundation within a year of your application due date.
To learn more about this funder, which has combined assets totaling $63 million, check out IP’s full profile of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s local giving in South Carolina.