Commentary: How the SC Legislature can best help marginalized communities | Remark

When you think of a non-profit organization, what comes to mind? Your local food bank? An organization that has supported you during the pandemic?

South Carolina nonprofits serve our state in countless spaces.

They tackle big issues like food insecurity, affordable housing and lack of health equity.

They save taxpayers millions of dollars through programs that promote employment opportunities, reduce homelessness and provide safe and reliable child care.

They work within our communities to serve citizens on the ground.

When tragedy strikes, you can see them on the news: the staff and volunteers of SC nonprofits who care for our people, provide food and shelter, and help our brothers and sisters rebuild their lives.

When the waters reached historic levels in South Carolina, there was a deluge of media coverage.

At the height of the pandemic, we saw videos of cars lined up for miles, families waiting to receive help from food banks.

What you may not recognize is that the staff and volunteers who work with South Carolina nonprofits during times of conflict and upheaval do the same vital work for the people of our Status every day of the year, even when the news crews aren’t watching.

As president of a foundation that has awarded more than 3,000 grants totaling more than $81 million to SC nonprofits, I know that our state thrives when its people are healthy, employed, and live in stable homes.

Communities grow stronger with less crime, better education and fewer families living in poverty.

As lawmakers consider where to distribute $2.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act dollars, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina joins the nonprofit sector in our support for $100 million dollars to provide to further expand the impactful work of nonprofits across the state.

This money will be used for a competitive nonprofit grant program housed within the Department of Commerce, providing additional opportunities for your local nonprofits to receive financial support.

We are pleased to see our Legislature working to appropriate funds to provide rural broadband throughout our state.

We also recognize that our state government cannot bear the entire burden of supporting struggling communities.

Additional support in our communities is needed, for example, to bridge the digital divide once rural broadband infrastructure is expanded.

Nonprofits provide this support by bringing digital literacy education devices and programs to marginalized communities.

Nonprofits are also working to bring telehealth to rural communities that lack health care options, which is a need that has been amplified by COVID-19.

And nonprofits are strengthening food security and providing much-needed child care and after-school programs, mental health services, elder care and more.

These organizations fill the gaps and further the goals of our state legislature to improve the lives of all citizens of South Carolina.

As lawmakers enter the next phase of their funding deliberations, we want to remind them that South Carolina nonprofits have been there for us.

Now is the time for the Legislative Assembly to join the philanthropic sector in investing in them for the good of our state.

Thomas C. Keith is President of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.

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