Just in time for the holidays, Greenville Federal Credit Union has again donated $50,000 to five local nonprofit organizations.
The last time the awards were given out was in 2018, when they started the program to coincide with the credit union’s 50th anniversary.
“We’re very excited to support nonprofits in our community,” said GFCU President Paul Hughes.
Kristin Garner, vice president of external affairs for Communities in Schools South Carolina, was one of the inaugural recipients of the award in 2018 and said the award allowed her organization to support needy students across the state graduate high school while meeting their needs.
Hughes said the number of applications doubled from last time, with 66 coming in this year.
“There’s extraordinary need in our community,” he said.
2021 Thanks and Giving Grants winners
- Village Wrench, a group that serves the mill village neighborhoods on the west side of Greenville. They provide bikes to students and community members who perform community service. They hope to extend the reach of the program while developing partnerships and streamlining operations.
- Jasmine Road, an organization that provides aid for adult female survivors of sex trafficking, prostitution and addiction. They provide housing, medical care, employment opportunities, and time and space to heal. They plan to use the grant to triple the capacity to serve more women.
- Fostering Great Ideas helps guide foster children through the foster care program, with resources to help youth through every step of the process. They hope to hire a life coach to help train youth in life skills and social and societal integration.
- Project HOPE Foundation helps children and adults across the autism spectrum, with inclusion-based classroom learning and services to help them. The grant will help with technology to help build vocational skills.
- YMCA of Greenville serves needy families through a food relief program that started in 2020. The program provides a bag of food per week to families suffering from food insecurity, job loss and financial insecurity. They plan on using the grant to expand the food relief program over the next year.
Meanwhile, Hughes announced a new scholarship program for Greenville County high school seniors that would provide a $5,000 need-based scholarship and will provide five $1,000 scholarships to help fund the first year of college or technical college. Those wishing to apply can go online, and the winners will be announced April. Finally, the credit union will provide several $500 grants to Greenville County teachers for school supplies.
“There will not be a shortage of need,” Hughes said. He noted the credit union was founded in 1968 by Greenville County teachers and remained a teachers’ credit union until 2001, when it was opened to the public. Since then, however, they’ve always maintained strong ties to the school system.
Unlike the scholarships, the credit union won’t be able to fund the grants every year. They’re hoping to continue the program every 2-3 years, depending on the vitality of the stock market and how much the credit union will be able to contribute to the fund.
William Coates, director of development at the Eastside Family YMCA, said that while some programs might be able to provide a monthly provision of food, his organization is able to provide needy families with a bag of food a week. He said it costs about $2,500 a week to provide the food, and it’s been a program that he’s carried out since March of 2020.
He said he’s formed partnerships with schools and the VA to help provide for children and homeless veterans. He said he was excited to continue with the program and help bring an end to food deserts in Greenville.
Meagan McDaniel is a former foster youth and high school dropout who noted that the graduation rate for many in foster care is remarkably low. Since then, she’s become a teacher and has joined the Fostering Great Ideas team as an education advocate. McDaniel has fostered about 30 youth, and she hopes her story will help inspire other youth. She’s excited for what the grant means for the organization, saying it will help with purchasing school supplies, hiring another team member and travel expenses.