The foundation is based in Columbia but makes grants statewide. Photo: Kevin Ruck/shutterstock
The foundation is based in Columbia but makes grants statewide. Photo: Kevin Ruck/shutterstock

The Sisters of Charity Health System owns two Catholic hospitals and oversees three grantmaking foundations. With connections to both Ohio and South Carolina, the organization dates back to the mid-1800s and is connected with many other health, human services and education groups.

Today we’re focusing on the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina (SCFSC), which has been part of the health system since 1996. Here’s how this foundation has been addressing the needs of low-income communities throughout the state of South Carolina.

Fighting poverty statewide

Although much of the Sisters of Charity Foundation’s work takes place in Ohio, where the health system is headquartered, SCFSC is solely dedicated to the state of South Carolina. The foundation serves all 46 counties in the state. Recent grantees are located in Columbia, North Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head Island, and many other cities and towns.

All of SCFSC’s efforts revolve around fighting poverty, but it goes about that task in a few different ways. Through its grantmaking, the foundation also looks to promote educational success, contribute to long-term community development and build a sustainable and healthy economy.

While this foundation has deep Catholic roots, SCFSC’s giving is largely focused on non-denominational and secular social services rather than on grantees directly affiliated with Catholicism or other faiths.

In addition to traditional grantmaking, SCFSC has a fatherhood initiative that aims to boost father engagement as a means of reducing poverty. There is also a kinship care initiative that supports grandparents in the state who are primarily responsible for raising their grandchildren. Immigrant families are a concern for SCFSC—the foundation is interested in reducing immigrant poverty and making communities more welcoming. To help poverty-fighting nonprofits accomplish their missions, SCFSC also awards capacity building support to encourage leaders to expand their skills and knowledge.

Beyond grantmaking

SCFSC grants come in a variety of forms, including program-specific, general operating and capacity building support. In addition, the foundation backs advocacy, policy and research around the structures that cause and exacerbate poverty. Helping nonprofit leaders boost their skills is a big part of what SCFSC has been up to lately, as well as making connections with government agencies, legislators and higher education institutions aiming to combat poverty in South Carolina.

Like so many foundations today, SCFSC has made a public commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. It approaches grantmaking and other charitable efforts through an equity lens to close opportunity gaps and reduce barriers to health access.

Applying for a grant

SCFSC is an accessible foundation that funds in three giving areas—immediate needs, “breaking the cycle” and systems change. It accepts unsolicited initial letters of inquiry and makes those forms available by January 15. The inquiry process is conducted online, and there are some video tutorials available to get first-time grantseekers started.

Since 1996, SCFSC has awarded over $75 million and distributed over 3,000 grants to nonprofits to alleviate poverty in the state. Read more about this local funder and others operating in South Carolina in IP’s Southeast funding guide.