Waccamaw Community Foundation, Google provide matching $500,000 grants to ensure protection for Waites Island

November 3, 2022

The Waccamaw Community Foundation, the Grand Strand’s leading philanthropic organization, has joined Google in providing matching $500,000 grants that will go toward permanently protecting a portion of Waites Island from development.

The grants will run through Sustain SC’s newly launched Land and Water Action Fund, a first of its kind initiative in South Carolina that brings new private sector dollars toward conservation, leveraging county, state, and federal dollars to accelerate the protection of South Carolina’s most critical natural resources.

Open Space Institute (OSI), one of South Carolina’s leading land conservation organizations, is the first recipient of the fund’s monetary gift. Earlier this year, OSI purchased 108 acres of Waites Island, located just north of North Myrtle Beach. OSI is holding the property until it can be transferred to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to be managed as a Heritage Trust Reserve – the highest level of protection provided for property in South Carolina.

Waites Island, located in northeastern Horry County, is one of the last remaining undeveloped and unprotected barrier islands in the Southeast. The dual grants from the Waccamaw Community Foundation and Google will go toward permanently protecting a portion of Waites Island from development.

“We are delighted to join Google in providing matching grants to help preserve Waites Island, one of our community’s natural treasures,” said Mike Mancuso, Executive Director, and Principal of Waccamaw Community Foundation. “As soon as we learned about this funding initiative and Google’s support behind it, our Fundholders were immediately inspired to act.”

“We have an incredible responsibility to preserve South Carolina’s natural beauty and to foster sustainable growth as people from around the world are discovering all that our state has to offer and moving here,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Sustain SC’s Land and Water Action Fund is going to help us do that, and Waites Island is as deserving of a conservation project as we have in the state.”

SCDNR Director Robert H. Boyles Jr. said, “191 bird species have been documented on Waites Island, which is nearly half of all the bird species that occur in our state. Conservation of Waites Island will provide an oasis in a sea of development for migratory birds, sea turtles and shorebirds, as well as the potential for restoration of the federally threatened seabeach amaranth.”

For more information on the Waccamaw Community Foundation and the work it does throughout the region, visit WaccamawCF.org.


About the Waccamaw Community Foundation

Since 1999, local philanthropists have turned to Waccamaw Community Foundation to effectively manage their giving and meet community needs. The organization serves many people who share a common concern: improving quality of life in Horry and Georgetown counties.

WCF makes charitable giving simple and effective by offering individuals creative ways to establish and manage funds that will positively impact the Waccamaw Region for generations to come. WCF also offers advice about projects and organizations, helping donors meet their philanthropic goals.

Waccamaw Community Foundation has made a lasting impact in Horry and Georgetown Counties. Through the generosity of donors, it has awarded more than $21 million in grants since the Foundation was established in 1999.