About Us

R.T. Bailey Construction pledges to Greenwood Promise

Mar 22, 2019 – Todd Bailey, Owner of R.T. Bailey Construction, Inc, pledged $35,250 to the campaign. The pledge is a commitment of $250 per house sold by R.T. Bailey Construction, Inc, the company developing the Milford Pines subdivision, that at completion, will house 141 homes in Greenwood. This pledge brings the Greenwood Promise closer to its Phase 1 goal of $5 million, which continues to provide post-secondary education to all students in Greenwood County.

The Greenwood Promise is an educational initiative aimed at increasing the economic growth of Greenwood County by promoting postsecondary education and thereby ensuring a skilled and educated workforce. The average number of Greenwood County students attending a post-secondary institution has risen to 71%, passing the state of South Carolina’s average, which is 69%.

This initiative enables Greenwood County to be a viable competitor in both industry and community attractiveness by promising all eligible Greenwood County high school graduates tuition assistance.

The program supports an associate’s degree and hopes to provide the opportunity for advancement to a four-year degree for those with the academic ability to succeed.

Read More

Fifth-graders get lesson on Greenwood Promise

Mar 4, 2019 – By ALEKS GILBERT agilbert@indexjournal.com from The Index Journal.

Among the hoped-for benefits of the Greenwood Promise scholarship is higher achievement among the county’s K-12 students. If they know a degree from Piedmont Technical College will be paid for, the thinking goes, they will try harder and perform better in school.

Katie Davenport, the Promise’s new executive director, wants every kid in the county to know about the scholarship. To that end, Davenport has been spreading the Promise’s message in recent weeks, visiting the county’s fifth-graders to let them know they will not have to think about the cost of attending a technical college when deciding whether to apply.

“Raise your hand if you want to go to college!” Davenport asked a class of fifth graders at Ware Shoals Middle School. Most did.

“We are making a promise to you,” Davenport said, “that you can go to Piedmont Technical College and not pay any money.”

In another class, she asked the students whether they had the “magic number,” the tuition that Piedmont Tech charges.

“Millions,” one student said.

“Trillions,” another chimed in.

“That’s the national debt,” said District 51 Superintendent Fay Sprouse, who had dropped by.

While college was at least seven years away for the students, some were clearly interested.

Several students asked whether they could go to any college for free.

Davenport told the students the Promise might eventually pay for the final two years of a degree at Lander. In the meantime, it will only cover the tuition at Piedmont Tech or another technical school within the state, so long as the student is pursuing a degree that Piedmont Tech doesn’t offer.

“Does anyone here want to be a dental hygienist?” Davenport asked.

“What’s that?” a student asked.

“Well let’s pretend like someone here does,” she said. Davenport told the students Piedmont Tech does not offer the program, but Greenville Technical College does; if they wanted to become a dental hygienist, the Promise would cover their tuition at Greenville Tech.

“What if we don’t live in Ware Shoals?” asked one student from Due West. The Promise wouldn’t pay for her degree, Davenport told her because she doesn’t live in Greenwood County. But, she added, the Abbeville Promise, should it meet its fundraising goal, would.

Other advocates of the Promise had gone to schools elsewhere in the county to spread the word. In Ninety Six Elementary School, Brandon Felder, assistant registrar at Lander University, told students they could all go to college. All they had to do were three things:

Make good choices, earn good grades, and graduate from high school.

“Is this for real?” one student asked.

Read More

Kindergartners receive Greenwood Promise medallions

Feb 26, 2019 – Kindergarten students from Ninety Six Primary School received a medallion from The Greenwood Promise’s Executive Director Katie Davenport and The Greenwood Promise’s Board Chair Ron Millender. The medallion is a symbol of a promise that they will be able to attend college, tuition-free when they graduate from high school thanks to Greenwood County residents and businesses who support this initiative through The Greenwood Promise.

Officials: Promise, Edge programs having impact on region’s workforce

Jan 18, 2019 – By ADAM BENSON abenson@indexjournal.com from The Index Journal.

A pair of scholarship programs aimed at giving Greenwood County students broad career opportunities posted rosy numbers that have officials confident for their long-term viability.

Last year, economic development leaders and educators unveiled Greenwood Edge, a dual-enrollment track that allows students to earn a manufacturing production technician certificate through Piedmont Technical College while still in high school.

It’s viewed as a companion to the Greenwood Promise, which offers last dollar financial aid for students graduating high school so they can attend Piedmont Tech at no cost — with future phases paying for tuition at Lander University or another four-year institution where the major is offered.

James Bateman, director of business development for the Greenwood Partnership Alliance, told board members Thursday that the inaugural 19-student Edge cohort has already completed two of their certification tests, with the second planned for this semester.

On top of that, 17 of them have passed the tests with a grade of “C” or better, while eight passed a national quality certification exam — considered the most difficult.

A $2,070 value, the Edge is offered at no cost to students through support from the Greenwood Promise and each of the county’s three school districts. The Promise is a fiscal agent for the Edge, but the programs run separately.

“The object for Edge is to prepare students for industrial jobs, without going to Piedmont Tech — right from high school,” said CPW commissioner Michael Monaghan.

However, Edge students can choose to continue their education, having had completed one semester’s worth of work at Piedmont Tech, Bateman said.

“It expedites either their entry into the workforce or their technical education, so they’re entering at maybe a higher skilled job or higher educational attainment job,” Bateman said.

Three of the 19 students have secured apprenticeships from Fujifilm — all from Ware Shoals High School.

“We also know of the five companies that were official corporate supporters of the program by lending their brand name, were planning requisitions or job openings for the students,” Bateman said. “They’re at least guaranteeing an interview for students that complete the Edge program.”

Those companies are: Ascend Performance Materials, Capsugel, a Lonza company, Fujifilm, Greenwood Mills Inc. and Monti Inc. Manufacturing jobs comprise 26 percent of Greenwood County’s workforce.

High school students enrolled in Edge will get 12 credit hours by taking the following courses: Statistical Process Control, Basic Industrial Skills I, Introduction to Industrial Maintenance, Precision Measurements and Manufacturing Engineering Principles.

Piedmont Tech’s Manufacturing Technician Certificate has a $2,070 value.

Edge was born out of a five-year strategic plan developed by the Partnership Alliance in 2017 that included the creation of a human resources project. After meeting with focus groups that included representation from major manufacturers in the region and trips to other communities with similar initiatives in place, officials crafted a local version.

Greenwood County Council chairman Steve Brown said the body is interested in continuing its financial support for the Edge.

“The county’s very interested in putting some monies into it — and did allocate some for it — and I think we’ll be there again this year,” he said. “We want to participate financially.”

Meanwhile, the Greenwood Promise continues to pay dividends, supporters say. With longtime county teacher Kate Davenport now on board as executive director, building on its popularity is a top goal.

From fall 2016 and fall 2017, Piedmont Tech saw a 38 percent increase in the number of Greenwood County students, with postsecondary participation for high school graduates jumping from 62 percent to 71 percent over that same span.

Read More

Katie Davenport to become the next Executive Director for the Greenwood Promise

Katie Davenport to become the next Executive Director for the Greenwood Promise

Greenwood, SC – January 3, 2019 – The Greenwood Promise received quite a list of well qualified candidates from Greenwood as well as outside of Greenwood, for the open position of Executive Director, Greenwood Promise.  It speaks well to the visibility that the Greenwood Promise has received – to have this many candidates apply for this position.  It has taken some time to go through the candidates and interview process, especially with scheduling through the holidays.  We were fortunate to have a diverse group of qualified individuals with different types of skill sets, which made the decision process more challenging.

We are pleased to announce that Katie Davenport has been selected and has accepted to become the next Executive Director for the Greenwood Promise.  Katie is a native of Greenwood County, having graduated from Ninety-Six High School.  Katie received her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Clemson University and started her career at the Greenwood Genetic Center as a Cytogenetic Technologist for about four years before deciding that she wanted to get into education and started as Science teacher at Westview Middle School.  While teaching, she also completed her Master of Education from Walden University and later completed a Master of Education from Grand Canyon University, specializing in Elementary and Secondary Administration and Supervision.  She currently was working as the 6th and 7th Grade STEMS Science Teacher for Greenwood District 50; where she was selected as 2017/2018 Teacher of the Year – Westview Middle School.

Katie’s passion for education and the need for her students was evident through the interview process; she has seen first-hand what it means for academically promising students to feel that a college education is out of reach and she understands what the Greenwood Promise can mean for these students.  Her desire is to make sure all of these students will have that opportunity.  As we move into finding ways to reach those students at an early age and work to prepare them for college; Katie’s insights and experiences will help to make that happen.

In addition to her busy educational life, Katie is a volunteer at Hospice Care of the Piedmont’s Hospice House and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of Greenwood.

Please join us as we welcome Katie to this new position on Monday, January 16th

About the Greenwood Promise

The Greenwood Promise is an educational initiative aimed at increasing the economic growth of Greenwood County by promoting postsecondary education and thereby ensuring a skilled and educated workforce. The Greenwood Promise was established in 2015 and began funding students in fall 2017.

Mathis Plumbing & Heating pledges $10,000 to The Greenwood Promise

Mathis Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., pledged $10,000 to support The Greenwood Promise. To date, the Promise has received more than $4.7 million in pledges. Promise awards began with the spring high school graduating class of 2017. The Greenwood Promise’s mission is to provide a tuition-free path to ensure Greenwood County students obtain the postsecondary education needed to develop a highly-skilled workforce, improve the overall quality of life, and increase economic vitality. For more information, visit www.GreenwoodPromise.com. From left are Promise Committee Chair Ron Millender, Jimmy Mathis, Wayne Mathis, and former Director of The Greenwood Promise Kris Burris

Read More Here

Mathis Plumbing & Heating pledges $10,000 to The Greenwood Promise

Greenwood Promise boosting Piedmont Tech enrollment

During its infancy, champions behind the Greenwood Promise could only sell the program based on a hunch.

But with new data in about how the initiative — which assures every student in the county can obtain a certificate, diploma or associate’s degree from Piedmont Technical College — is affecting enrollment, officials are more confident than ever about the Promise’s long-term impact on the region.

“Before, we could only talk about the potential of the Promise program, but now we can talk about results,” said Promise committee chairman Ron Millender. “And it’s been fantastic. We’ve moved the needle big time in high school graduates enrolled in college.”

Though it remains too early for officials to gauge the Promise’s impact on high school retention rates, there is enough information to draw from that indicates it’s having the desired effect.

In 2006, 81 percent of high school graduates who left after four years entered a two or four-year state institution — a figure that dropped to just 67 percent by 2016.

Between 2011 and 2016, Greenwood County was averaging about 65 percent — a figure that jumped to 71 percent in 2017, the Promise’s first year of offering gap financial aid.

“The increase came from the amount of kids going to technical college,” Millender said, with a two-year total of 118 new Piedmont Tech students from Greenwood County to the school.

“Of all the Promise programs I looked at — and they all track this kind of data — I didn’t see anybody who did a better job of increasing their enrollment year-over-year than we saw in Greenwood County,” Millender said.

Put another way, the average number of Greenwood County students attending Piedmont tech from 2011 through 2016 was 188. In the last two years, that’s jumped to 240.

After setting an initial goal of $5 million to support Phase 1 in perpetuity, just more than $4.7 million has either been pledged or contributed.

It’s a busy time for executives at the nonprofit, who are also in the midst of searching for a new executive director after Kris Burris left in September to become director of dual enrollment at Piedmont Tech.

Burris joined the Promise in 2016, and continues to be a major player in its growth.

“The enthusiasm is still there at all levels, whether its community support, whether it’s in the school districts — public and private — and it shows in the numbers that we’re seeing now,” said Burris, who’s serving as a liaison for the Promise until her successor is hired.

Millender said interviews are underway for Burris’ job, and her replacement could be announced by Dec. 1.

“Having to start an organization like this from scratch, the job description continues to right itself every day,” Millender said. “As you grow and you get things done, more things happen.”

The Promise’s leadership team completed a strategic plan during the summer, outlining a three-year vision.

“We’ve crystallized what the message is. We have three different audiences we’re addressing the Greenwood Promise message to, and it’s a little different for each one,” Millender said. Those groups: Students and their parents, higher education institutions and investors.

As major manufacturers in the area continue to expand — such as Fujifilm and Lonza — others such as Caterpillar and Teijin are arriving with new plants, offering lucrative jobs.

The Promise helps to create a skilled workforce for them, Millender said, warding off the migration of qualified employees.

“You can get a job with a high school diploma, but the job demands are higher than that,” Millender said.

Once the $5 million threshold is met, Phase 2 of the Promise begins, which seeks to provide tuition assistance for the final two years of a student’s time at Lander University or another state-supported school.

“I think this is such a great opportunity for our community, and this is something that I hope everyone will get behind and support. It’s huge, being able to remove at least one barrier to get students competitive in the workforce,” Burris said. “The timing couldn’t be any better. You can’t say all these industries are expanding or coming because of the Promise, but how wonderful is it that we have it and these students will benefit?”

Read the original article here:

Greenwood Promise boosting Piedmont Tech enrollment

Promising data to become marketing tool for Greenwood Promise

Officials with the Greenwood Promise are hopeful that strong initial data, first reported by the Index-Journal three weeks ago, will convince potential donors that their contribution “is a good return on their investment.”

The data show post-secondary enrollment among Greenwood high school graduates surging while it continues to drop at the state level. The increase has been almost entirely in enrollment at Piedmont Technical College, the tuition of which is covered by Phase 1 of the Promise.

At an information session at the Gatewood Clubhouse Monday, Jim Pfeiffer, the former chair of the Promise’s fundraising committee, said that the County Council, which has been reluctant to make a recurring financial commitment to the Promise, may change its mind “with continued positive change” such as higher wages and property tax revenues.

Promise committee chairman Ron Millender said that he expects to see the greatest impact after enactment of Phase 2, which will cover the last two years’ tuition at Lander University. That, he said, will not only help Greenwood keep residents who would have otherwise left, but it will attract families who want their children to get a bachelor degree.

Their goal for Phase 2 is $10 million, more than twice what they have managed to raise thus far, which is just short of the $5 million needed to fund Phase 1 in perpetuity.

“I’ve been on the board of most nonprofits in Greenwood because I have a hard time saying no,” Millender said. “But they all treat the symptom a little bit. This one goes after the root cause.”

He shared a number of statistics about the structural changes in the job market that are already well underway and, he believes, point to the necessity of making higher education more accessible.

For example, only 47 percent of those without a high school diploma are currently employed in Greenwood County.

The promise will address this, he said, as students’ motivation to complete high school will get a boost from the fact that they will be able to get a degree debt-free.

“I don’t have tangible indicators of success in Greenwood County as of yet,” Millender said. “It takes some time to see the trickle-down impact of increasing the educational attainment level in the community.” He shared some of the benefits attributed to other promise programs, e.g. increased wages and property values. “I would expect to see similar results (in Greenwood) in these other indicators.”

Read More:

Promising data to become marketing tool for Greenwood Promise

Horne pledges to support The Greenwood Promise

Bettie Rose Horne pledged $5,000 to support The Greenwood Promise. To date, the Promise has received more than $4.7 million in pledges. Promise awards began with the spring high school graduating class of 2017. For more information, visit: www.GreenwoodPromise.com. The Greenwood Promise’s mission is to provide a tuition-free path to ensure Greenwood County students obtain the postsecondary education needed to develop a highly-skilled workforce, improve the overall quality of life, and increase economic vitality. For more information, visit www.GreenwoodPromise.com. Photo caption from left: Promise Committee Chair Ron Millender, Bettie Rose Horne and former Director of The Greenwood Promise Kris Burris Submitted by Paul Cuenin

Read more:

Horne pledges to support The Greenwood Promise

Sorrow pledges to The Greenwood Promise

Realtor, Martha Sorrow, pledged $2,500 to support The Greenwood Promise. To date, the Promise has received more than $4.7 million in pledges. Promise awards began with the spring high school graduating class of 2017. The Greenwood Promise’s mission is to provide a tuition-free path to ensure Greenwood County students obtain the postsecondary education needed to develop a highly-skilled workforce, improve the overall quality of life, and increase economic vitality. For more information, visit www.GreenwoodPromise.com. Photo caption from left: Promise Committee Chair Ron Millender, Martha Sorrow and former Director of The Greenwood Promise Kris Burris

Read more here:

Sorrow pledges to The Greenwood Promise