Waccamaw Community Foundation, United Way of Horry County and Black River United Way partner up to eliminate childhood education gap

March 26, 2023

Only 36 percent of Horry County kindergartners and just 46 percent of Georgetown County kindergartners enter the area’s public-school systems prepared for the academic and social challenges that await, but three of the Grand Strand’s leading philanthropic organizations have partnered up to help end the problem.

Waccamaw Community Foundation, the Waccamaw Region’s only community foundation, announced a grant to fund a special Kindergarten Readiness initiative by United Way of Horry County and Black River United Way.

The grant funds, which were provided by an anonymous donor, will be used to support the cost of setting up the Waccamaw Region Basics website and pay for the first three years of yearly maintenance fees. The new website will feature The Basics, Inc., an evidence-based tool to help equip parents and caregivers in Horry and Georgetown counties with the best resources to ensure area children are prepared to meet and exceed national standards when entering kindergarten.

By uniting forces, United Way of Horry County and Black River United Way can reach a more significant population of families and create a stronger partnership in the Waccamaw Region to make a greater impact on early childhood development.

“Through this special grant, the Horry County United Way and Black River United Way are collaborating for the first time to address the most pressing education need of our region – kindergarten readiness.“ said Mike Mancuso, executive director of the Waccamaw Community Foundation. “Waccamaw Community Foundation and our anonymous donor are proud to support The Waccamaw Region Basics program that will help ensure that every child in our community has access to high-quality, early learning opportunities that will set them up for lifelong success.”

Blakely Roof, CEO of United Way of Horry County, said, “When we moved to the collective impact model, our county’s kindergarten readiness rates were one of the things that stuck out to us on what needed to change. This year only 34% of children entering kindergarten in Horry County were testing a kindergarten readiness level. Mission Ready serves to increase that number by supporting children and families in preparing them for school, helping to develop social foundations and language that are the key areas of child development and recognized as essential for school and long-term success. This is the most critical time in a child’s life, and we, as stakeholders, must be poised to take action if we want our students to succeed academically, compete in the workforce and build self-sufficiency.”

Yolanda McCray, President & CEO of Black River United Way, stated, “We ensure the success of the Waccamaw Region for Childhood Success initiative by our two common agenda items, Mission: Ready and Mission: Read. Black River United Way leads the way for collaboration between childhood development centers, school districts, after-school programs, local municipalities, and state agencies. Through this collaboration, with well-defined goals and objectives, we ensure that children are ready to learn in Kindergarten and reading to learn by the time they enter third grade.”

For more information on the Waccamaw Region Basics, please go to https://www.blackriveruw.org/childhoodsuccess

For more information on the Waccamaw Community Foundation and its programs and services, 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 $24 million in grants since the Foundation was established in 1999.