The Situation and Challenge
Since its founding as one of the leading economically flourishing areas of the upstate of South Carolina Abbeville County has always met each challenge with courage and energy. This has led to a level of vitality that has brought us to today with hope and excitement.
And at this time, as throughout our past, we must determine the most effective strategies for achieving quality growth and act decisively to provide a level playing field for all our citizens. Changing times demand change from us — not just little tweaks along the way but transforming changes — if we are to stay relevant in our region’s economy, educational opportunities and quality of life. Our neighbors in all directions, both statewide and locally, are “going for the gold” which is a very good thing, but if we are to positively progress and not become observers, then we must act and act with wisdom and courage.
In 2017, we find ourselves in a position that demands positive action for the future of Abbeville County. What do we do?
One essential component of successful community development strategies is the enhancement of post-secondary education opportunities. Such opportunities can provide transformative changes to communities determined to grow, progress, and prosper.
The Freshwater Coast Community Foundation proposes establishing a pathway to more affordable, high-quality, post-secondary education by funding the cost of an associate’s degree at Piedmont Technical College for all Abbeville County residents who achieve high school diplomas free of tuition and fees under qualifying conditions.
We propose the Abbeville Promise program.
Through similar programs across the county, communities are preparing their young people to be the workforce of the future, the next generation of productive citizens, and the civic leaders of tomorrow. Dozens of communities have achieved outstanding results in both economic and community development by establishing a Promise program.
The Abbeville Program is based on successful similar programs in Kalamazoo, Michgan; El Dorado, Arkansas; Hammond, Indiana; Cleveland County, North Carolina and many others. There are more than 200 Promise programs across the United States
Proven Results from Promise Programs Nationwide:
- Reduction in crime rates.
- Better school behavior and grades.
- Improved retention rates in school.
- Higher enrollment in post-secondary education free of debt.
- More educational opportunities and good-paying jobs.
- Greatly improved workforce in numbers, ability, and qualifications.
- More families with an income sufficient to maintain a household without public support.
- Enhancement of tax base.
- Increased property values.
- Attraction of more young families to our county.
Research shows that an endowment of $1,825,000 earning a reasonable interest income will fund the Abbeville Promise program and open doors of economic opportunity and personal potential for the young men and women of Abbeville County.
In 2018, 56% of South Carolina’s jobs will require a post-secondary education. In 2014, according to the 2016 Abbeville County’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, only 22% of our residents had at least an associate’s degree, the number of residents in our labor force is stagnant and the number of residents living in poverty continues to rise. The Abbeville Promise program will help change these sobering statistics.
We can begin the Abbeville Promise program as soon as the fall of 2018 if the funding is provided. The Freshwater Coast Community Foundation intends to make this happen with your support.
Planning for the Future
The Foundation is focused on putting the Abbeville Promise in place. The next phase of our mission is to put the spotlight on specific projects in the areas of Education and the Fine Arts. Both areas are very important to growing our quality of life and strengthening our potential for economic growth.