Why Poverty Nonprofits in South Carolina Might Look to Catholic Nuns for Funding

Secular nonprofits in South Carolina might not think to look to a group of Catholic Sisters for support, but those working to fight poverty might be surprised at the grant opportunities that exist close to home.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, which was established in 1978 to address causes of poverty in the state. In the foundation’s spring 2016 grant cycle, it awarded Caritas (which means “in all things charity”) grants to local organizations serving basic needs of individuals and families living in poverty in South Carolina. Thirty-four organizations are sharing the foundation’s latest commitment of $69,750 to continue serving this cause.

New grantees include Vital Aging of Williamsburg County, Mercy Medicine Clinic, and the Jordan Crossroads Ministry Center, among others. These are some of the types of programs that this funder has been supporting lately:

  • Domestic violence crisis centers
  • School uniforms and supplies for pre-K through eighth grade students
  • Financial literacy
  • Mental health
  • Nutrition and physical exercise
  • Elder care

Keep in mind that this foundation is a prominent basic needs funder that exclusively funds statewide poverty reduction efforts. Caritas grant awards are up to $7,500 for a one-year period and are given to organizations with annual budgets of less than $900,000. It considers funding poverty-related causes in all 46 counties of South Carolina. And recent grants are serving the counties of Williamsburg, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Colleton, Clarendon, Sumter, Lee, and Florence.

You don’t have to be affiliated with the Catholic faith to apply for a grant from this foundation; you just need to serve the needs of the local poor either directly or indirectly. In addition to the Caritas grants, which go towards basic needs, Sisters of Charity also awards community enrichment grants to support nonprofits whose services go beyond meeting basic needs. Other giving interests and initiatives include flood relief, immigrant families, involved fathers, foster care, and Catholic nuns.

Caritas grants applications are due in April and October, and community enrichment pre-application deadlines are due in February and August. Check out the grantmaking guidelines page to learn more.

According to foundation data, South Carolina has the eighth highest poverty rate in the U.S., and about 17 percent of all homeless people in the state are children. This grantmaker has awarded at least $58 million through at least 2,106 grants in the state to fight poverty through grants, collaborations, and nonprofit training programs.

In 2015, the foundation awarded 37 grants totaling $361,576 for education, 18 grants totaling $365,043 for health, and 102 grants totaling $1,355,593 for social services. This distribution tells us that Sisters of Charity Foundation views poverty reduction as more than just food banks and homeless shelters, also considering the broader impacts on society at the local level.

Read our profile of this funder