Innovative Initiative Works to Bolster Local Nonprofits During Difficult Economic Times

April 30, 2009

Announcing 2009-2010 United Way of the Midlands PIC Fellows

Columbia, SC – April 30, 2009  – Amidst news of one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and an ever-increasing demand for social services in South Carolina, nonprofits are competing for the limited donations and grant money available.

In January, South Carolina’s unemployment rate had skyrocketed to 14.1% and in just six months, state funding had been cut three times for a total of 13%. To combat these difficulties, United Way of the Midlands, along with its partners, is providing local nonprofits an opportunity to increase their capacity to serve not only now, but also for years to come through the Partners in Compassion Institute (PIC). PIC awards grants to these agencies in areas that will make them stronger and better able to compete for funding.

The PIC Institute was founded to help faith and community-based groups that benefit the homeless or at-risk youth in Lexington, Richland, Fairfield, Newberry, Calhoun or Orangeburg counties. There are 20 local faith- and community-based organizations that have been accepted into the PIC.  Participation in the Institute is granted on a competitive basis. Selected participants receive staff and volunteer training, technical assistance, and financial assistance to strengthen their organizations’ ability to lead, market, operate and raise money.

“Our ultimate goal is to expand and sustain the delivery of effective services in the Midlands by increasing the number of organizations that can compete successfully for funding and that employ effective practices,” said Mac Bennett, president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands. “The long commitment of United Way of the Midlands, more than 80 years, to its partners in the region will continue beyond the grant period, making the benefits to the region sustainable for years to come.”

The following organizations were accepted into the 2009 PIC Institute:

  • Bluff Road Shalom Zone CDC provides human and economic services to the residents of the area designed to improve the quality of life for children and families without regard to their ability to pay.
  • Boys Farm provides a charitable and educational home with love, training, understanding, and guidance and to meet the physical, as well as, spiritual needs of boys in need of assistance. 
  • Brookland West Community & Housing provides decent, affordable housing to low income citizens, revitalize the community, provide emergency assistance and redevelop abandoned, foreclosed properties. 
  • Chapin We Care Center provides a unified ministry of love to area residents in the form of emergency relief for food, utility assistance, referrals, life skills, and other needs.
  • Community Mediation Center helps individuals and organizations in the Midlands of SC resolve conflict, improve relationships, and build community. 
  • CORE (Community Organization for Rights and Empowerment) assists in community revitalization through service, affordable housing development, and expanded opportunities for business. CORE also supports families, promotes community and environmental awareness through education and training, while promoting economic self-sufficiency and improving the overall quality of life for the community in Holly Hill.
  • Fairfield Behavioral Health Centers provides comprehensive substance abuse intervention, prevention and referral services.
  • Federation of Families of SC provides leadership in the area of children’s mental health through education, awareness, support, and advocacy for families and children and youth with, or with the potential for, emotional, behavioral, or mental health disorders.
  • Friends of Juvenile Justice provides programs, advocacy, and funding for prevention, rehabilitation, and reintegration programs for at-risk youth.
  • Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.  The group provides girls and young women with programs that help them learn more about themselves, how to look at the world of opportunities and challenges around them and to carve out a path to a bright future. 
  • Good Samaritan Clinic provides quality medical care to patients who have financial limitations, do not have health insurance and cannot afford to pay for medical care.  In addition, the Clinic provides health education services in an attempt to improve the patients’ health and quality of life.
  • Interfaith Community Services assists parents in finding quality child care centers, family child-care homes, summer camps, and before- and after-school care.
  • Lexington Interfaith Community Services provides assistance for individuals and families who are experiencing difficult situations by providing for basic needs and by creating environments which allow people to make hopeful life changes. 
  • Light of the World provides social services to improve the educational, social, mental, economic, and occupational welfare of individuals and families through programming including but not limited to youth, family, health, workforce and social development, residential rehabilitation, commercial revitalization in collaboration with community, public, and private sectors.
  • Newberry First Steps fosters nurturing experiences so that every child will enter first grade ready to succeed.  The agency empowers parents to make significant and sustainable changes in their lives and the lives of their children by equipping them with language and literacy skills.
  • Palmetto Place Children’s Emergency Shelter provides a safe and nurturing emergency shelter bringing together a broad range of services for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. 
  • Richland County CASA advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children in Richland County Family Court by providing quality volunteer and legal representation to ensure every child a safe, permanent, and nurturing home.
  • SC Hispanic Outreach promotes dignity, well-being, and improves the quality of life of the Hispanic/Latino community in South Carolina.
  • SC Women’s Business Center directs services to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, particularly microenterprises and female-owned businesses and provides a statewide, community-centric system of economic development services.  The program aims to engage low-income individuals with knowledge and market-based techniques that promote self-employment and entrepreneurial activities.
  • Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands provides services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse and education about sexual trauma issues. 

Beth Padgett, Community Mediation Center President and Executive Director, is excited about how the PIC Institute will strengthen her organization.

“It seems like there are several things about which we keep saying if only we could get some help, we could just blossom” Padgett said. “This program will provide the help that we need to really operate as a business. I am so overwhelmed with how fortunate we are that this is available and that we were chosen as a participant.”

Padgett’s concern is a common theme for small nonprofit organizations that are so busy providing vital services to their communities.

As a non-profit organization, the obvious thing to do is focus on the services,” Padgett said. “But you still have to do your evaluations and record keeping well and with limited resources, it’s easy to lose track of that. Having the opportunity to get the coaching we need and to really operate
as a business is so important to me and will help the Community Mediation Center continue to provide better services now and for years to come.”

The funding for these grants comes from a three-year grant of roughly $500,000 each year from the Office of Community Services (OCS) in the US Department of Health and Human Services for a Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) Demonstration Award. Those funds are distributed by the Partners in Compassion Institute, a collaboration comprised of the United Way of the Midlands, the Edisto Council of United Way of the Midlands, Women in Philanthropy, SCANPO, Claflin University and the Central Carolina Community Foundation.

 “Our collective experience and knowledge of the strengths and challenges in our region will allow us to efficiently target resources for solving two of our highest priority issues—ending homelessness and improving the success of at-risk youth,” said Bennett.

The Partners in Compassion Institute offers an approach that is intensive, flexible and experiential. In the short-term, it will actively assist 20 different organizations each year to achieve the levels of functioning they desire in five capacity-building areas. As a result, the organizations will be able to increase the number and quality of services provided to the homeless and at-risk youth. Organizations interested in applying for next year’s grants should contact Bunnie Lempesis, Director, Community Capacity Building, at 803-758-6982.