Greer Women Giving for Education, a new initiative of the Greater Greer Education Foundation, has already raised $17,000, which will be spent in its entirety on grants and scholarships.
The new initiative was established to maximize local women’s leadership in philanthropy by building awareness of the educational needs in the Greater Greer community and addressing those needs through the impact of collective giving, according to its founders, Margaret Burch and Nancy Welch.
“This idea has become a national movement of women joining together in giving circles. Many similar groups have recently formed across the state and have made a significant impact in their focus areas,” Burch said.
“Similarly, it is our hope and desire that Greer Women Giving for Education will strengthen our community.”
Membership is comprised of women who made a tax-deductible gift of $1,000 this year. The founding members are: Nancy Welch, Margaret Burch, Patti Osbon, Patricia Gibson, Ellen Wall, Harriett Williams, Sherry Anne Gettys, Lauri Ashmore, Elizabeth Atkins, Lynn Clark, Melody Owens, Sharone Wood, Mildred Griffith, Colleen Keith, Heather Gordon, Kathy Cochran and Linda Ashmore.
In addition to making the awards in partnership with the Greater Greer Education Foundation, members will also gather from time to time for networking and sharing awareness of critical educational needs and opportunities in the community.
“We are hopeful that this circle will grow each year,” Welch said.
The founding members gathered for a Christmas Tea at Welch’s home on Dec. 11, where they heard from several teachers who had received grants from the Foundation, and the impact it had on their students.
In 2013, Carol Godfrey, received a Greater Greer Education Foundation grant for her music classes at Skyland Elementary School. The grant funded the interdisciplinary project “Stories and Songs” which combined music performance, children’s literature, and storytelling.
“The project supported three significant areas of our school: the IDEA program (Intensive Development in Education through the Arts), the school literacy goals, and the school music program,” Godfrey said. “The grant allowed me to purchase children’s books that align with our music curriculum and classroom instruments to support music performance goals. The project culminated with our 2nd graders performing ‘Sing Me a Story’ for parents and students in April 2014.”
Godfrey said she appreciates that the Foundation designed an uncomplicated and user-friendly grant application, which respects the busy lives of educators. “I also appreciate that teachers from all academic areas and all grade levels can pursue grant funds. The most meaningful part of receiving this grant is that it comes from local people giving back to their community, supporting local students and the efforts of teachers in the classroom. My students will benefit from the grant for many years to come. I am extremely grateful to the Greer Education Foundation.”
Peggy Neel received a grant from the Foundation in 2012 while a speech language pathologist at Woodland Elementary School. The grant was for $1,000 to purchase an iPad, accessories and apps to use with screenings, therapy and data collection.
“I immediately began using the iPad in therapy and my students responded in ways that I had anticipated, but also in ways that I did not imagine,” Neel told the group. “The students were very motivated to use the iPad, but it also motivated them to self –monitor their sound production and fluency skills.”
She said the grant also allowed her to improve her record keeping, reduced the need for paper, engaged students of all ages and disabilities and involved the parents in a helpful way.
“All of this is the result of the $1,000 grant from the Foundation. It does not take huge amounts of money to have a large impact on the children of our communities. I will be forever grateful to the Foundation for the opportunities this grant has afforded myself and my students.”
Neel is now the speech director for Greenville County Schools.