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Area organizations receive grant money from Duke Energy
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Area organizations receive grant money from Duke Energy

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FLORENCE, S.C. — Several organizations with after-school and summer mentoring programs for students in the Florence region are recipients of Duke Energy grants.

Duke Energy recently announced the recipients of $375,000 in grants through the Duke Energy Foundation to South Carolina organizations that will fund tutoring and reading programs in underserved and minority communities to combat learning gaps created by the pandemic.

The funds will also support environmental education programs for Title 1 schools and culturally relevant professional development, particularly as it pertains to racial equity in education.

Among the 46 organizations in South Carolina awarded grant money are the following from Florence and Darlington counties: Boys & Girls Club of the Pee Dee, Mingle of the Pee Dee, Future Entrepreneurs Foundation, Lydia’s Bowls of Mercy (Johnsonville), Florence County School District 3 (Lake City) and the YMCA of the Upper Pee Dee in Hartsville.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Pee Dee will use grant funding to offer K-3 students the RazPlus Reading Program, a curriculum that seeks to improve vocabulary, language fluency and reading comprehension among participants at its six sites.

Kayla Jebaily Adams of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Pee Dee said the money will help provide a summer reading program to about 150 children. She said the organization will be able to help these children make up some of the reading progress loss during the pandemic.

Mingle of the Pee Dee is to provide low-income, minority and disadvantaged students access to a free mentoring and tutoring program in a supervised learning environment.

Les Echols, co-founder and current board secretary of Mingle of the Pee Dee, said, “The grant means that we can expand our educational services by offering free tutoring. This tutoring will be provided by certified teachers to underserved youth in Darlington County.”

Future Entrepreneurs Foundation is a web-based program to assist with the immediate need to reconnect with students during the global health pandemic who are having challenges academically and provide tutoring assistance for academic success for 200 students.

Nanaefua Eshun, president and CEO, said the group is working with Florence District One to help students. She said the grant money will enable them to purchase school supplies and computers as well as do more community events.

Lydia’s Bowls of Mercy in Johnsonville has a program to improve the student’s performance in troubled subjects with one-on-one sessions that will focus on the student’s areas of opportunities.

Dr. Barbara Black, founder and CEO of Lydia’s Bowls of Mercy, said the grant money will enable the organization to purchase school supplies and computers, and provide the students a meal before going home. Before the pandemic, the organization served about 30 students.

Florence County School District 3 Extended School Academic Assistance Program in Lake City provides academic assistance or tutoring after school hours either face-to-face or virtual to address the COVID-19 academic learning loss in students.

YMCA of the Upper Pee Dee in Hartsville Y Learner’s Club will provide small group after-school tutoring to children ages 5-12.

Others in the Pee Dee include Dillon School District 3 (Latta), Benevolence Reach One Teach One (Mullins), and Performing Arts & Science Academy (Marion).

“As the effects of the pandemic on our students and learning environments continue, after-school tutoring programs have become critical in addressing some of these learning gaps, and existing programs have been burdened to continue providing these valuable services,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president “Both of my parents were public school teachers, so I’m personally proud that Duke Energy is continuing to support the education efforts of our teachers and students by supporting these critical organizations as they help curb learning gaps and other challenges presented by the pandemic.”

This summer, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Pee Dee will use grant funding to offer K-3 students the Raz-Plus Reading Program, a curriculum that seeks to improve vocabulary, language fluency and reading comprehension among participants.

“Boys & Girls Clubs remain committed to the social and emotional well-being of its members and aiding them on their academic journey,” said Neal L. Zimmerman Jr., executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Pee Dee. “This generous grant will help us continue our focus of improving members’ education this summer through the implementation of a proven reading curriculum taught by qualified instructors. This will help many members overcome the reading loss that has occurred during the pandemic.”

In addition to addressing the challenges presented by COVID-19, many of these grants help create or sustain programs that address the needs for social justice and racial equity in the K-12 education space.

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