Coastal Community Foundation Grants $800K to Create School Rooted in Gullah Geechee Heritage

Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina (CCF) will grant $800,000 over four years to Sea Islands Heritage Academy in Beaufort County.

Sea Islands Heritage Academy is an authorized 6th -12th grade charter school that will open for the 2024-2025 school year and serve rural communities of color. The Heritage Academy is tuition-free and will provide equitable access to education that uplifts and celebrates Gullah Geechee heritage. This is the second Catalyst Grant awarded to Sea Islands Heritage Academy. The first was a $100,000 grant in 2022 to provide planning support during the charter school application process.

“At Sea Islands Heritage Academy, community is at our core and we are grateful for being awarded the Catalyst Grant,” said Founder and Executive Director Alana Jenkins. “With CCF’s generous contribution, Sea Islands will create equitable access to high quality education that honors our place—the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. The award will go toward reaching all scholars in Beaufort County, writing a curriculum that honors our community, and growing our community-designed school model.”

Enrollment for the 2024-2025 school year is open now for 6th and 7th grade. Once the school has demonstrated proof of concept in Beaufort County, founders hope to scale the model to serve students in Colleton, Jasper, and Charleston counties.

“This is the only school in Beaufort County whose educational model has been co-designed by community members,” said CCF President and CEO Darrin Goss Sr. “The Catalyst Grant program aims to support bold, innovative, and collaborative ideas that make a significant impact in the region. This award to Sea Islands Heritage Academy is our largest Catalyst Grant yet and we believe its educational model emphasizing the close ties to culture and heritage will be transformational for students.”

Coastal Community Foundation launched the Catalyst Grant program in 2020 as a category of The Beaufort Fund, CCF’s largest grantmaking program. Catalyst Grants support large-scale projects addressing community-wide issues. The grants are available to nonprofits serving Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, or Jasper counties and ensure multi-year funding, often exceeding a hundred thousand dollars per year. Since 2020, CCF has awarded Catalyst Grants totaling $4.3 million. Previous recipients include Hopeful Horizons, Teach for America South Carolina, Communities in Schools of South Carolina, CommunityWorks, EforAll, Habitat for Humanity of the Lowcountry, and Penn Center.

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