In the Zone | Dec. 2, 2015

A monthly newsletter of what’s happening in the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone


Action plan to be unveiled in early 2016

PromiseZone_logoFor the last few months, SouthernCarolina Alliance has led community and strategy meetings to help in the development of a long-term strategic plan to guide the Promise Zone over the next 10 years.

Professor Kirk Randazzo, who met with eight strategy groups, is drafting a framework that will lead to an action plan, which will be unveiled in the first quarter of 2016.

“Each of the groups worked extremely hard to brainstorm numerous ideas to help propel the region forward,” said Randazzo, who is director of the Carolina Leadership Initiative at the University of South Carolina. “More importantly, they committed to working collaboratively in executing the strategic action plan and obtaining the resources necessary to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives.”

As we continue to develop this vision to tackle big challenges in the Promise Zone, we encourage you to:

  1. Continue to communicate and collaborate with your regional partners and peers on initiatives that can benefit both your organization and the region.
  2. Request Promise Zone endorsement for any federal grants that you submit.  Instructions and forms can be found on our website
  3. Sign up on our website to receive ongoing email updates which include new grant opportunities, newsletters, announcements and other information.


Number of Promise Zone supporters and partners: 37 organizations, as of Dec. 2, 2015

New partners and supporters:

Promise Zone funding to date: $8,605,952.69, as of Dec. 1, 2015

Capital investment: $74,200,000, since Oct. 1, 2015

New jobs: 48, since Oct. 1, 2015


Arts Commission hosted revitalization meeting in Walterboro

The South Carolina Arts Commission hosted more than 50 local, state and national leaders in mid-November in Walterboro to showcase how museums and libraries can help to rebuild troubled neighborhoods and drive economic, education and social efforts that raise the standard of living in the Promise Zone and the surrounding area.

Local, state and national leaders talked about injecting arts into community development in Walterboro, Nov. 13, 2015.

Local, state and national leaders talked about injecting arts into community development in Walterboro, Nov. 13, 2015.

“South Carolina has so many great examples of how  arts and culture help build communities and create a sense of place,” said Susan DuPlessis, arts participation program director for the commission. “We had the great experience of hosting a meeting   to look more closely at what collaboration and “placemaking” means especially in a rural setting and with invited guests from the Lowcountry library, museum, community development and culture sectors.

Kathryn Matthew, a Charleston native who heads the federal Institute of Libraries and Museums, led a discussion on how communities can embrace the arts in community development to create special places.

“I was impressed by the productive conversations and the fact that attendees stepped outside their ‘day-jobs’ to talk about what could benefit South Carolina communities for the long-haul,” she said. “In particular, I was intrigued about attendees’ comments around how rural communities need to balance retaining their unique sense of ‘cultural place’ with welcoming and listening to newcomers.”

Matthew added that many thoughtful conversations during the meeting “seemed to emphasize the importance of establishing deep ties within communities with the goal of collectively overcoming transportation and access barriers.”

Other takeaways from the meeting, which showcased the successful collaboration of Walterboro’s Colleton Museum, commercial kitchen and farmers’ market:

  • More people and leaders are recognizing and understanding the power and effectiveness of the arts as a way to engage, address community issues.
  • “Collecting and celebrating great examples of how the arts and culture impact communities, engage citizens and address community development issues will be foundational as we work within the realm of community building through the arts going forward.  More meetings are planned over the winter to advance the conversations started,” DuPlessis said.
  • By using the arts to enhance communities in myriad ways, there will be more chances to secure philanthropic and grant funding for more community development.
  • The arts are igniting community conversations. “The din of the room on Nov. 13 with so many people actively engaged in brainstorming and sharing, was an example of how the arts engage, create a starting place of possibility and pride, and foster communication and ideas about communities.

Partner gets $100,000 fair housing grant

The state affiliate of the Corporation for Community and Economic Development United, Inc., has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help educate disabled Promise Zone residents deal with housing discrimination.

“We will do outreach and public education programs to raise awareness of the federal fair housing law that protects individuals,” said Patsy Gardner, executive director of the S.C. affiliate of the CCEDU.  “We will be targeting families with disabled members in the rural, socially-disadvantaged areas of the Promise Zone as it relates to housing discrimination.” More.


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Overview of the Promise Zone grant process

Promise Zone grant opportunities — a look at the 12 federal agencies and the 40+ programs that provide applicants with Promise Zone incentives to make grant applications.

Other grant opportunities — a look of various grant opportunities that may be available to groups working with the Promise Zone that are outside of federal grant programs. We post new information to this page on a rolling basis. Deadlines often are short:

Coming deadlines:

Funding resources: Visit this page of different educational resources that Promise Zone partners and supporters might find interesting or helpful. Recently added:

  • Online tool kit for rural areas
  • Investing in strong rural communities
  • Rural hunger guide
  • Guide to running a food hub


This monthly newsletter of the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone is produced by a supporting organization, The Center for a Better South. If you have information that you’d like to submit, please send an email to:  Andy Brack,

Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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