Central Carolina Community Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports 11 counties in mid-South Carolina. Discretionary grants mostly go towards community improvements, while other funds accept grant requests too.

FUNDING AREAS: Community, arts and culture, education, public spaces, women and girls

IP TAKE: There are 11 funds that award grants here, in addition to the community foundation’s discretionary funding. Take a moment to learn about what each of those funds supports and how you can apply directly.

PROFILE: The Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF) is based in Columbia, South Carolina, and is a vehicle for philanthropy in the state's Midlands area. It was established in 1984 by local business leaders and serves the following 11 counties: Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda, and Sumter. The first grants were awarded in 1989, but the foundation has since ramped up grantmaking from about $100,000 per year to over $15 million per year.

Over a recent five-year period, CCCF awarded over $63 million to nonprofits. At least 97 percent of those grants were given to groups in the foundation’s direct service area. Since 1989, the funder has given out over $115 million in grants.

Grants come from the community funder’s discretionary funds, as well as donor advised funds, such as the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation and the Knight Foundation Advised Fund. Most of the discretionary grants come from the funder’s Community Engagement Grants program. CCCF also has four regional affiliates: the Community Foundation for Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties, the Greater Chapin Community Endowment, the Kershaw County Endowment, and the Sumter Community Foundation. Meanwhile, Women in Philanthropy provides grants to groups that support women and children, and the One SC Fund supports disaster relief. Other funds support specific counties and the Lynches River watershed.

As far as community foundation discretionary grants go, CCCF mostly supports open and inclusive programs, arts and cultural opportunities, and the beautification of public spaces. These grants go up to $75,000 each and serve as challenge grants. In a past grant cycle, the funder gave $448,500 for Connected Community grants, which are meant to support innovative ideas that have been defined as the most important elements of a good community, according to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup. Grantees in that round included the Columbia Museum of Art, FoodShare, Friends of Lexington Main Library, and the Columbia Children’s Theater.

The foundation also gives out annual Best of Philanthropy Awards to honor people in the community that give back locally. Public nominations are accepted, and the $1,000 awards are given to a nonprofit of winners’ choices.

Open grant opportunities are typically listed on the funder’s Nonprofits page. In recent years, grant opportunities sessions have been hosted in July. Current sessions are posted on CCCF’s events page to let local nonprofits in on tips for applying for grants.  

A grantseeker’s best point of contact is Erin Johnson, the vice president for community investment, at erin@yourfoudnation.org or 803-254-5601 x322. The foundation is staffed by about nine professionals. Keep up with their blog and news section.

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