SC Future Minds Executive Director Aims to Raise $35,000 in Honor of 35th Birthday

In an ambitious quest to commemorate her 35th birthday, SCFM Executive Director Caroline Mauldin has set a goal of raising $35,000 for the statewide education organization by August 31st.

The fundraiser, which began in June, has primarily taken place on Facebook, where donors have contributed $7654 to date.  Another $1285 has been donated through SC Future Minds’ website: (As of August 24th.)

Making the case for her lofty goal, Mauldin is outlining 35 reasons to support SC Future Minds for her 35th birthday.  Those reasons will be updated here and on the Facebook fundraising page on a daily basis.   Donors are encouraged to donate via Facebook, which does not charge a transaction fee for contributions.

Reason #1

(Program #1)

SC Future Minds thinks—actually, we know—that teachers are heroes. In an era of declining budgets and increasing demands, teachers show up—not just for their students but for all of us. They are working harder and earning less; meanwhile their role as the stewards of young minds has never been more important. That’s why we launched the #teacherhero campaign in 2017, profiling individual educators for their commitment and service to South Carolina’s children.

For example, our profile of Ms. Tracy Renee Watson from Calhoun High School reached 14.5k people and generated 738 reactions, 108 comments, and 142 shares—all in honor of one inspirational (and hilarious!) teacher’s service.

The #teacherhero campaign has already reached hundreds of thousands of people, and we’ve only scratched the surface. With your donation, we’ll celebrate every #teacherhero in the state.

Reason #2

Y’all. Our children need us. The 2017 KIDS COUNT survey reports that just 29% of South Carolina’s fourth graders are “proficient” in reading, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test.

Put another way: 71% of our kids are not yet reading at a level that will set them up for success on their educational journey. Keep in mind that these statewide numbers disguise those parts of our state where students are struggling even more.

And if you think that’s a bummer — South Carolina’s score has barely changed in the past 15 years. Fifteen years of the vast majority of our 4th graders moving through the school system without proficiency in reading.

Friends, those are years we cannot get back for our students.

For me, depressing statistics are easier to process with some perspective, so here goes: the national average of proficiently-reading 4th graders is 35%. Okay, so that’s good for South Carolina [“well, at least we’re not that far behind”].

But then there’s Massachusetts, where 51% of 4th graders are reading proficiently. And even closer to home? Thirty-nine percent of North Carolina’s fourth graders are reading proficiently — still a whole ten points ahead of South Carolina.

Comparisons aside, here’s the deal: There is No Good Reason for failing over two-thirds of our young readers. Yes, there are lots of reasons we can point to (dwindling resources chief among them) — but NONE of them, repeat NONE OF THEM, are good enough to explain why we continue to move ~71% of our children through a system that clearly isn’t working for them.

Friends, we need big, determined, no-excuses action that will take us from six points behind the national average to 20 points beyond, well, every other state in the country.

I believe we can do it. SC Future Minds believes we can do it . But it’s going to take leadership from our state’s educators, policymakers, business community, and YOU.

Your donation to SC Future Minds will help us elevate the urgency and importance of priorities like childhood literacy — through our policy discussions with statewide political, civic, and business leaders, and through our My First Library program, which provides at-home summer libraries for the highest-need upcoming first graders in the state. We’ve only just gotten started, and we want you with us!

Reason #3

It’s not charity

By virtue of DNA, inherited behavior, faith, or all of these things, I am a total softie. I love all people. I am an eternal optimist. I believe every child has extraordinary capability within them, no matter their circumstances. And so on and so forth.

I also believe in capitalism. Early in my career, it became clear to me that we were never going to save the world (yes, this was and is my goal) with philanthropy alone. We need business. Fierce, cutthroat, bottom-line-driven business.

The same goes for South Carolina’s public education system.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about privatizing schools, or even that companies should increase their charitable giving to organizations like SC Future Minds (although that would be most welcome).

What I’m talking about is an urgent recognition by our business community that an investment in improving our public education system is an investment in their bottom line.

The future of South Carolina’s economy — and the businesses that drive it — depends in no small part on the quality of its local workforce, which in turn depends on the quality of our schools and the educators that lead them.

So Reason Number 3 for supporting The 35 Years $35K Birthday Campaign is that it makes good business sense. Your investment helps us elevate the message that South Carolina’s public schools are critical to the future of our economy. As we face a serious teacher shortage crisis across the state, this message has become more urgent than ever.

SC Future Minds is fortunate to count dozens of South Carolina’s leading companies as our primary funders. And the only way to grow our programs and impact is to grow the ranks of smart companies investing in us for their benefit.

Do you know a company that agrees with Reason #3? Let’s talk.

You can call me a softie capitalist—but I suspect you’re one too.

Reason #4

REASON NUMBER FOUR to support The 35th Birthday $35K Fundraiser for South Carolina Future Minds: The brilliant teachers guiding our work.

Full disclosure: when I joined SC Future Minds, my experience in public education amounted to the five glorious years I spent at Brennen Elementary in Richland School District One (go Bulldogs!)…and a course or two in grad school. Needless to say, I had ALOT to learn.

Ever the student, I immediately sought out mentors to guide me. Enter:South Carolina Future Minds’ Teacher Cabinet.

This group of 14 educators from across the state represents every stage of the teaching career and a wide array of content areas. They bring unique perspectives and a shared interest in advancing public education in South Carolina. In addition to serving as advisors to our work, our Teacher Cabinet is a consistent source of inspiration. Like so many of South Carolina’s teachers, they show up for their kids every day and still manage to have energy left over to advocate for a stronger school system overall. Just today, we met in Columbia to discuss teacher leadership, their policy priorities, and opportunities for progress. I am grateful for their counsel, and for their service to South Carolina.

Reason #5

(Program #2)

The fifth reason to support the $35K 35th B-day Fundraiser is, quite simply, the awesome programs that SC Future Minds offers. Our goal is to make it SUPER EASY for you to support South Carolina’s public schools through a variety of initiatives—choose the one the fits your style!

First up: SC Future Minds’ award-winning “Donate Now Button” makes it easy for you to support any public school in the state! Simply click here, fill out your info, and we’ll send your contribution directly to the school of your choice (minus a small transaction fee). How cool is that?

Reason #6

(Guiding Principle #1)

Friends, “public education” as a field, as a public service, as a theory of change is TOUGH. There is no one answer to improving outcomes for our students, certainly no silver bullet for how we can strengthen our schools. So when an organization like South Carolina Future Minds sets out to support the entire system….well…it can be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, we have some pretty solid principles that guide our work.

So, as Reasons #6 through #11 to support the 35th Birthday Fundraiser, I present our SCFM’s Guiding Principles. If you agree with them, think about helping us go from $8029 (our current total!) to $10,000 in the next week. Five weeks to go–we can do it!

Reason #7

(Guiding Principle #2)

SC Future Minds seeks to raise the educational aspirations of the state.

In other words, “minimally adequate” is NOT adequate.

Reason #8

(Guiding Principle #3)

SC Future Minds believes a strong public education system starts with its human capital.


Reason #9

(Guiding Principle #4)

SCFM advocates for policies that are research-backed and data-driven.

(Also, the data shows that you should give to this campaign!) #35reasons #35years #35gees

Reason #10

(Guiding Principle #5)

SCFM works with a wide variety of private and public sector partners to optimize resources and maximize collective impact.  #ReasonNumber10 #35reasons35years #publiceducation #forourfuture 


Reason #11

(Guiding Principle #6)

Reason #11 to support the 35th Bday 35 Reasons $35K Fundraiser is our final “guiding principle”–and an important one, given South Carolina Future Minds‘ unique role as a statewide organization.

Our public schools thrive where and when they have supportive communities around them. And of course, our communities thrive when our schools are supported. This virtuous cycle is AWESOME where it exists–but unfortunately there are many communities throughout South Carolina that are instead caught in a *vicious* cycle.

Under-invested communities, where there are few employers and/or civic organizations, are often isolated from the philanthropic dollars that lift so many of our students and teachers up. That’s why SC Future Minds continually identifies those areas of the state that need us the most. We want EVERY community in South Carolina to know that we’ve got their back.

If you’ve got their back too, make a contribution today. We promise to use it well.

Reason #12

(Program #3)

Inspire A Career is a one-of-a-kind website that connects schools to professionals who are willing to share and *inspire* students with their career path.
Developed by the 2017 class of Leadership South Carolina, the online platform offers an easy registration process for both professionals and educators all across South Carolina. Next, the matchmaking magic happens. Educators have access to a treasure trove of South Carolina’s leaders who are willing to *literally* go the extra mile for our public school students.
Ultimately, Inspire A Career makes it easier for schools to identify role models in a wide variety of industries who can engage with their students–-a process that often proves difficult in rural parts of the state.

Check it out and register today! Oh, and don’t forget to donate so we can expand its reach! <3

Reason #13

It’s time for lucky #13! Today’s reason to support the 35K 35th Bday Fundraiser is…Mr. Stanley Harvey. When Stanley’s mom (Kathryn Harvey) was recording the launch video for this lil undertaking, Stanley had something to say. It just so happens that I am fluent in bulldog, so here’s the translation:


Thanks, Stanley; I agree!

Reason #14

Reason #14 to support the 35 Years $35K Birthday Fundraiser: Former SC Governor and US Secretary of Education Dick Riley.  As beautifully articulated in this State Newspaper piece by Terry Peterson of The Riley Institute at Furman, excellence in public education is possible in South Carolina. We know it because we’ve done it.


When I first met Secretary Riley four years ago (in Boston, of all places), I had no idea I would be coming home to work in public education. Now that I’m here, I could not be more proud to lead an organization that, like the Riley Institute created in his name, is committed to realizing Secretary Riley’s vision for South Carolina’s children.

Reason #15

REASON #15!!! It’s the first week of school! Donate to the 35th Bday 35K Fundraiser so we can support our teachers and their students ALL YEAR LONG!


29 years ago, I had my very own first day of school at this fine establishment, and I’ve been grateful every day since. Shout out to alllllll of my teacher friends, new and old, and to all of their students—may they find the same nerdy love of learning that I found at Brennen! #gobulldogs#brennen #publiceducation #forourfuture

Reason #16

Reason #16 to donate to the 35th Birthday 35 Reasons Fundraiser: You’re giving me the treasured, truly *holy* opportunity to carry on the legacy of people like Dr. Bill Dufford, an extraordinary South Carolinian and educator who, among other things, helped lead the integration of South Carolina’s schools in the 60s and 70s.

Yesterday, with special thanks to my godfather Jeremy Wilson, I visited with Dr. Dufford on his front porch in Columbia. Now 91, Dr. Dufford grew up in Jim Crow South Carolina. I asked how he, as a white southern man born in the 40s, became such a powerful advocate for racial equity, particularly in public education.

It was a combination of experiences, he told me. His worldview expanded when he joined the Navy after high school. Then it was getting to know African American colleagues in different teaching positions throughout South Carolina during his early career. He told me how he couldn’t stand that relatives of families who had left the South during the Great Migration couldn’t visit their families here because there was nowhere for them to stay, to eat, to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t right.

When few other school districts in South Carolina were actively integrating their student bodies (long after Brown vs. Board mandated they do so), Dr. Dufford insisted upon it. They immediately banned the song Dixie and the Confederate flag on campus. He and a colleague, Dr. Earl Vaughn, brought black and white students together on a student council that would determine the name, colors, and mascot of their new, integrated school. “We have to trust the students,” he said. The adults during that time [and, ahem, now] were acting out of an emotional place, while students were logical and intentional about coming together.

“But, remember,” he said, “Desegregation is not the same thing as integration. And we’re still not there.”

He encouraged me to keep at it. “We have to convince everyone that public education is the future of our country. We will not prosper if we only take care of one part of our society.”

The title of Dr. Dufford’s memoir, “My Tour through the Asylum,” is borrowed from former SC Attorney General James Pettigru, who in 1860, said that “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”

Dr. Dufford gave me a copy and signed it: “C–The Struggle Continues!!”

It sure does. What a gift to have spent time with Dr. Dufford, and what a gift each of you give by helping me continue this work.

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