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.’
Over the years, the statewide 501(c)3 nonprofit has grown in order to help the private sector respond to the needs of South Carolina’s public schools. Key programs include STEM Educator of the Year, My First Library, the award-winning “Donate Now” Button for public schools, and a new #teacherhero campaign, elevating the teaching profession via on- and offline media.
STEM Educator of the Year: South Carolina faces two converging challenges for the future of its students and workforce: first, a critical shortage of public school educators, particularly in STEM areas; and second, the changing nature of jobs requiring an advanced understanding of STEM content areas and the skills required to tackle complex problems. The state will need to significantly increase its number of STEM educators in order to meet the demands of an evolving economy. Comporium, a family-owned diversified communications company now employing 1100 people in nine counties across the state and the founding sponsor, realizes that investing in the STEM Teacher of the Year award is also investing in the future of the state’s public education system.
The SC STEM Educator of the Year award is for teachers who are making a significant difference in the lives of students across the state by providing excellent curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning and inspiring a passion for STEM beyond the classroom and into the future. One winner will be selected from each of the regional locations: Lowcountry Region, Midlands Region, Upcountry Region and the Western Region.
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.
My First Library: Early childhood literacy is critical to every student’s success. With founding partner Bojangles’ and supporting companies and 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 22,480 books across the state to students who may not otherwise have the resources to develop their reading skills.
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.
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.