J. Marion Sims Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports causes to build healthy communities, support youth transition to adulthood, and to elevate philanthropy in in Lancaster County, Fort Lawn, and Great Falls, South Carolina.

FUNDING AREAS: Healthcare, health education, disease prevention, youth

IP TAKE:  This funder has a very narrow geographical focus area but a broad vision of what it means to build healthy South Carolina communities. It is a good idea to collaborate with another group on any proposal to Sims.

PROFILE: The J. Marion Sims Foundation was established in 1995 and is based in Lancaster, South Carolina. It seeks to enhance “the health and wellness of Lancaster County, Fort Lawn, and Great Falls, South Carolina.” It is a health legacy foundation created by the sale of the Elliott White Springs Memorial Hospital. However, the foundation gets its name from Dr. James Marion Sims, who was born in what is now Heath Springs, South Carolina, and became one of the most famous physicians of his time, in part for his contributions to gynecological medicine.

Sims awards responsive grants in Lancaster County, Fort Lawn, and Great Falls, as well as the Horizon Education Grants for educators. All projects funded by this foundation must serve the citizens of these parts of South Carolina. Grants typically support specific projects rather than general operations. The funder awards single-year, multi-year, and seed grants that don’t exceed a three-year period.

The funder’s responsive grants seek to promote collaboration among community partners and are structured to be data-driven. Proposals should focus on building a healthy community, supporting youth transition to adulthood, and elevating philanthropy. In the past, these applications have been due in May.

The Horizon Education Grant Program offers $500 to individual educators and up to $2,000 for multiple educators. Students serve on a Youth Review Committee to teach young residents about philanthropy. Pre-application planning, application information, and resources for both programs are provided on the foundation website.

Sims is a very collaborative funder. It has worked with the Orton Family Foundation on a program called Community Heart and Soul, and with The Duke Endowment on a program that connects recent college graduates with high school students in need of mentorship support. Letter of intent and proposal deadlines are posted on the funder’s community engagement page for this program. It has also partnered with the Chester Healthcare Foundation, USC-Lancaster, and other organizations on an initiative to use data and metrics to better impact local lives. Between 2002 and 2015, the foundation operated an adult literacy initiative and committed $13.3 million to 15 organizations.

The Sims Foundation has awarded around $50 million since its founding. Annual report and financial data can be viewed here.

Local groups may also be able to find a place to host a workshop or event by contacting the Sims Foundation. Keep up with this funder's work and interests through its news section. Past topics of coverage include high school student mentoring, local health rankings, youth transitioning, and strategies for healthy communities.

Direct general questions to the staff at 803-286-8772 or info@jmsims.org. The foundation is run by a staff of seven and led by President/CEO, Susan DeVenny.


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