Connected Communities 2016 Impact Report

What makes residents love where they live? What draws people to a place and keeps them there? The Connected Communities grant initiative funds innovative philanthropic projects that connect residents to our community. The nonprofit grant recipients presented innovative ideas to the Foundation that embrace one or more of the following three focus areas, identified by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup as the three most important elements of an attractive community:

  • Welcoming Community, which promotes and encourages open and inclusive activities and programs
  • Vibrant Social Offerings, which support the availability of community events, arts and culture opportunities
  • Superb Public Spaces, which enhance the beauty and physical setting of the Midlands community.

Connected Communities by the Numbers

"CUT! Costume and the Cinema"

Visitors of the Columbia Museum exhibit experienced a peek behind the scenes into the craftsmanship and artistry of cinematic costume design with this international arts and education exhibition, including 43 costumes from 25 well-known films, depicting five centuries of history, drama and comedy.

"Creating connections with our community is essential to the CMA mission. Employing local artists to demonstrate artistic processes deepens our connection to local audiences, while giving our homegrown talent an opportunity to reach audiences outside of our region."

Katherine Wallworth, Museum of Art's curator

Doko Meadows Park Foundation Amphitheater Project

A new amphitheater, within Blythewood’s 25-acre Doko Meadows Park, welcomed audiences and visitors of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, and abilities to view first-class performances, arts and community events.

"The Connected Communities grant was the first and only foundation funding we received for this particular Doko Meadows Park project. Thank you very much for believing in our project and in supporting our efforts to create a public facility that truly connects our community."

Buddy Price, Doko Meadows Park Foundation

What's Next Midlands?

Engenuity SC, economic development nonprofit, launched its second year of What's Next Midlands, the collaborative crowd sourcing program aimed to gather great ideas for Midlands improvement from residents, and then connect those ideas with the community, capital and volunteers needed to turn them into reality. The program completed one publicly vetted and approved project per quarter. Over 196 total volunteers assisted in the array of "What's Next Midlands" projects.

“The residents know best what they want to make this a more live, work, play, visit-friendly community and to make it a more connected community.”

Meghan Hickman, Executive Director, EngenuitySC

The Jasper Project: Marked by Water

In commemoration of the first anniversary of the devastating South Carolina flood in October 2015, local artists and Midlands community members collaborated and produced a multi-disciplinary community arts project, featuring visual art, literary elements, music and dance. Funding from the Foundation supported the publication of a book containing collected works from this project.

“There was work to be done. From physical labor to hauling supplies to helping keep tabs on needs and news via social media, everyone had a job to do. And no less important was the job of the artists who rose to meet the cultural imperative for which they knew they were responsible—documenting not only what happened to our community, but how it made us feel and think. How it changed the way we saw our places in nature, in the community, and in the future.”

Cindi Boiter, Executive Director, The Jasper Project

"RACE: Are We So Different?"

This exhibit fulfilled the museum’s vision to be an innovative institution by exploring three primary themes- the science of human variation, the history of the idea of race and the contemporary experience of race and racism in the United States. "RACE: Are We So Different?" explains why we should celebrate our differences. The exhibition was displayed from June 11 to September 11, 2016.

“The events in the past in South Carolina have made us all pause and ask ourselves deeper questions. Today, conversations about race and issues dealing with race are happening around kitchen tables, in work break rooms, and classrooms across the state.”

Willie Calloway, Executive Director, SC State Museum

Conduct the Phil

Five interactive, flashmob style concerts were held at local festivals allowing festival goers to step on the podium, take the baton and conduct the orchestra! The unique concert series delighted audiences and engaged them in the music making process.

“Conduct the Phil is a fun way for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience what I am fortunate to experience every time I step in front of an ensemble. You are placed right in the middle of all the musical action, perhaps similar to being right on the sidelines during a football game as opposed to watching it from the stands or on TV. ”

Morihiko Nakahara, Music Director- SC Philharmonic

Waterfall Junction

Waterfall Junction at Riverbanks Botanical Garden invites families and children of all ages to get outdoors and explore nature. Imagination blooms in this 3-acre wonderland where you can pop in and out of a rabbit hole, unearth a life-size replica of a T-Rex, frolic between giant tree houses and kid-size playhouses, splash around and under a 25-foot cascading waterfall and run — or rest — on a grassy meadow.

“Waterfall Junction's popularity has surpassed our expectations. We are thrilled to see the community embrace this new addition to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and look forward to continuing to invest in this transformative addition."

Lochlan Wooten, Director of Marketing, Riverbanks Zoo

Congratulations to all of the grant recipients on successful projects that have helped make our communities a better place to live, work and play!

Questions? Contact Erin Johnson at erin@yourfoundation.org or 803.978.7822

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