Midlands Gives: Moving Our Region Forward on May 3

By Chloe Rodgers

Midlands Gives-GLA-Horizontal copyHow much can the Midlands raise in one day when we band together in support of local causes? Last year during Midlands Gives, the 24-hour local online giving day hosted by Central Carolina Community Foundation at MidlandsGives.org, we found out: an astonishing $1.5 million dollars.

In the event’s first year, 2014, our community gave more than $700,000 to 150 nonprofits in 24 hours. This past year, our community doubled that to raise more than $1.5 million in one day for more than 250 nonprofits across 11 Midlands counties during Midlands Gives. We can’t wait to see what the Midlands can achieve for more than 375 nonprofits during the third annual Midlands Gives day on May 3.

Select the charities you’d like to support, and the dollar amount you’d like to give to each charity, and your donations will go straight to your charities of choice to support their operations and special projects. Some of which may even have a direct impact on your own quality of life. Your Midlands Gives gifts will be amplified by “Power Hours,” “Match Minutes” and other exciting and interactive bonus prizes and incentives throughout the day.

How does this all go down? Let your inner philanthropist shine, and give online with just a few clicks from a desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone at any hour on May 3, 2016 at MidlandsGives.org.

Join Midlands Gives that day at Midlands Gives headquarters in the brand new Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies, to see Power Hour winners announced live, and for fun events such as the Mayor’s Pitching Contest and happy hour featuring entertainment by Heart ‘n Soul Band.

As an account manager at Flock and Rally, the PR firm for Midlands Gives, I was privileged to witness the generosity of our community first hand this past year — and I’m so excited to see what we can do on May 3.

Recently, I sat down with Meghan Hickman, executive director of EngenuitySC, an economic development nonprofit participating in Midlands Gives, for a Q-and-A to discuss how EngenuitySC will use funds to impact the community, and to find out who else she’ll be supporting on May 3.

Q: Meghan, as the executive director of EngenuitySC, tell me what your nonprofit does for the Midlands, and what you’ll do with the donations you receive during Midlands Gives.

A: EngenuitySC is an economic development nonprofit focused on enhancing the Midlands’ competitiveness and prosperity through partnerships with business, government, education and community leaders. One of our most exciting programs is What’s Next Midlands, our new platform for launching big ideas to move the Midlands forward. Funds raised during Midlands Gives will support our ability to serve as dot connectors between people with great ideas and the resources to make those ideas a reality for all of us to enjoy.

We also work extensively with five different middle and high schools in Richland School Districts One and Two to help teachers and staff expand students’ access to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Our team helps to bridge the gap between these students and the resources that await them in higher education and in the business community.

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Lower Richland High School students

Q: Arts organizations in the Midlands play a big role in making our community more vibrant. Can you talk about a few that are participating in Midlands Gives?

A: Our community is an incredible place to live, thanks to our arts and culture scene. Some of the organizations making a noticeable difference include the Columbia Museum of Art, which just won the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, their industry’s highest honor. 701 Center for Contemporary Art just hosted record crowds during their annual Columbia Open Studios tour of 70 artists’ studios, introducing new audiences to the artistic process in neighborhoods from Chapin to Five Points to Northeast Columbia.

The Nickelodeon Theatre just celebrated the 10th anniversary of their Indie Grits Film Festival with free admission across the entire weekend, bringing national talent and international press attention to our city. Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College just wrapped their most recent season, bringing international talent like aquanaut Fabien Cousteau and comedian Caroline Rhea to the stage, while supporting local performers like dancer Terrance Henderson via the HT@MTC Performance Incubator program, which fosters Midlands-based professional performing artists’ careers.

Columbia Open Studios 2016 by Jeff Blake-The CLIMB Studio copy
The CLIMB Studio during Columbia Open Studios 2016; photo by Jeff Blake

Q: Your team at EngenuitySC works with K-12 schools in underserved areas, so you’re familiar with what Midlands students may need. Are there any education nonprofits participating in Midlands Gives on May 3 that we should note?

A: Language immersion has been such a strong focus in this region, and I’m thrilled we have a resource like The Language Buzz Foundation, focused on fully engaging children in learning. They use creative techniques to not only teach other languages, but to introduce the culture, the music and the food to transport the students to another world.

Richland Library Foundation is making truly inspiring progress in this community. Through efforts to impact all lives, they are creating programs, facilities and opportunities that will change the landscape of the Midlands.

Columbia College is making great strides in the realm of women’s leadership development, with impactful programs such as the Institute for Leadership and Professional Excellence for business professionals and high school girls. Funds raised will go to that initiative as well as student service projects in local charities and organizations.

The James M. Hinton Foundation has a “Sacks of Love” program, which provides at-risk, low-income students in the North Columbia area with kid-friendly, nutritious brown bag lunches to carry home on the weekends during the school year to supplement their nutritional needs that are often not met during weekends at home.

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Q: Homelessness is an issue in Columbia, but luckily, we have some local nonprofits helping those without homes. Some of these organizations are partaking in Midlands Gives this year. What’s your favorite nonprofit that’s working to get homeless citizens back on their feet?

A: St. Lawrence Place is a great organization getting families from homeless to home. They provide wonderful enrichment programs for children and help prepare parents for success in the workforce.

Family Promise of the Midlands works to help homeless individuals and families furnish new homes by collecting furniture and other household items; settling folks into their new homes and, afterward, continuing to work with them through counseling and case management to help these individuals and families become more financially stable for their future lives.

Q: The Midlands region is growing immensely — what are a few nonprofits that are making things happen here?

A: No community can become more competitive and prosperous without a strong talent development organization and I am so excited about the wonderful projects that Columbia Opportunity Resource is undertaking. COR connects talented professionals in the greater Columbia area to diverse and meaningful networks for leadership, service and fun.

Congaree Riverkeeper is on the front lines of our local environmental movement, physically monitoring the health of our rivers and taking action to protect and improve water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation on the Congaree, Lower Saluda and Broad Rivers through advocacy, education and enforcement of environmental laws. Donations of $100 would allow them to collect and analyze multiple water quality samples, organize a river cleanup or respond to pollution concerns reported through their pollution hotline.

The South Carolina flood in October 2015 devastated our region. Central Carolina Community Foundation quickly developed the One SC Fund to collect funds to distribute to organizations aiding in flood relief, and it since has been endorsed by Governor Nikki Haley. Thus far, the One SC Fund has provided $1.3 million in two rounds of grant awards to 24 nonprofits providing direct flood relief in South Carolina. Funds raised during Midlands Gives will help these organizations continue the long, arduous rebuilding process.

One SC Flood Relief Fund grantee All Hands Volunteers working to rebuild a flood destroyed home in SC
One SC Flood Relief Fund grantee All Hands Volunteers working to rebuild a flood destroyed home in SC

These are just a few of the 375+ nonprofits accepting donations at MidlandsGives.org on May 3. With a minimum donation of just $20, members of our community can give back to local charities — and make a huge difference.

Which nonprofits will you support during Midlands Gives?

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