Our Programs

Investing in South Carolina’s Future Minds

South Carolina Future Minds (SCFM) is a nonpartisan, statewide 501(c)3 organization investing private resources in public education. Our mission is to champion world class student achievement by supporting excellence in teaching, encouraging collaboration among public education stakeholders, and connecting private financial support to public schools.

SCFM was formed in 1995 by a group of accomplished businessmen who came to a conclusion informed by years of recruiting and retaining talent within their companies: ‘If we care about the people running our public schools, we need to show it.’

Today, SCFM, in collaboration with the SC Department of Education and leading businesses, hosts the nationally-recognized Teacher of the Year celebration, known as the Academy Awards of Teaching. This statewide celebratory event is one of many SCFM programs that recognizes the critical role of teachers in our communities and supports under-invested schools across the state.

As a statewide organization, SCFM works with every school district in the state and has garnered the support of over 20 companies in South Carolina, including BMW, BlueCross BlueShield, Comporium, and Bojangles.’ By 2020, we hope to count over 200 businesses in our network of leading companies that recognize the critical importance of a strong public education system to South Carolina’s future.

Programs

Supporting South Carolina’s Teachers

The SC Teacher of the Year Gala: SC Future Minds is proud to host South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year celebration with the SC Department of Education and leading companies that believe an investment in our public school educators is a critical investment in our future. The black-tie, red-carpet, 600-person gala has become known as the “Academy Awards of Teaching” and is inspirational for anyone whose life has been touched by an educator.

Teacher Appreciation Month: On the heels of the Teacher of the Year gala, SC Future Minds co-hosts a press conference at the State House, in which the Governor officially proclaims May as Teacher Appreciation Month. Throughout the month, we collect and share teacher tributes on social media and encourage individuals and businesses to support local educators through our “21 ways to support a teacher” campaign.

The #teacherhero Campaign: SC Future Minds’ #teacherhero campaign profiles outstanding educators who set the standard in service and dedication to their communities. The social media and billboard campaign is elevating the image of teachers throughout the state and has engaged hundreds of thousands of people across South Carolina in just two years. We also work throughout the year to celebrate teachers at special events, including on the field in Death Valley during a Clemson football game and on the track at Darlington Raceway during the Bojangles’ 500. We specialize in helping companies find ways to support the educators who hold up our communities. For example, through SC Future Minds, Bojangles’ provides free tea to teachers all year long, and even surprises one lucky teacher with a cruise to the Caribbean.

Strengthening South Carolina’s Schools

My First Library: Early childhood literacy is critical to every student’s success. With founding partner Bojangles’ and supporting organizations, My First Library builds at-home libraries for upcoming first-graders in high-need schools throughout the state. To date, we have given away 19,680 books across the state to students who may not otherwise have the resources to develop their reading skills.

WhatWorksSC: We know that great programs exist throughout our public schools; but too often they do not have access to the financial support or network to expand their impact. SC Future Minds is proud to co-host WhatWorksSC with the Riley Institute at Furman University. The annual award celebration and luncheon honors programs that are improving students’ lives and demonstrating capacity for scale. With our help, these outstanding initiatives can reach more children throughout South Carolina.

A Community Foundation for Education: Even small plans can have major impact; that’s why SC Future Minds hosts funds for public education programs that may not have the staff or legal capacity to manage resources with best in class accountability and transparency. Current programs include the Berkeley County School District Endowment and the South Carolina National Board Certified Teachers Network.

The Award-Winning “Donate Now” Button: In this day and age, you can donate to just about any cause under the sun via the internet. That’s why SC Future Minds decided to create the “donate now” button, enabling donors to contribute to any public school in South Carolina. The button facilitates the transfer of thousands of dollars every year from community members to schools and districts. In 2017, the button received the “InnoVision Award” for development and execution of technology to improve education.

Improving South Carolina’s Public Education Policies

SC Future Minds believes that the future of our state depends on an education system in which all students succeed and thrive, regardless of race or zip-code. And yet, certain statewide laws and practices contribute to consistently abysmal outcomes in public education, an unrelenting teacher shortage, and a talent pool largely unprepared for SC’s evolving workforce. As a result, we continue to short-change both our children and our economic future.

The time has come for systemic reforms that align the workforce interests of our business community with the needs of our public school educators and their students.

Enter Education for the Economy (E4E), a new statewide, business-led initiative advancing research-based policies that support the needs of public schools and private sector companies—at the same time. The data-driven advocacy initiative is modeled after successful efforts in North Carolina and Tennessee and is the first of its kind in the state. E4E will initially focus on policies that strengthen the talent pipeline in public education, making the economic case for investments in teachers and principals that both save public dollars and sustain growth.