CVSC Education Fund Highlights Rosenwald School Project Through Midlands Gives Initiative
COLUMBIA, S.C.—Conservation Voters of South Carolina Education Fund (CVSCEF) is set to participate in Midlands Gives, an initiative hosted by Central Carolina Community Foundation, which brings the region together to raise money and awareness for local nonprofits.
This year, CVSCEF is leveraging the initiative–which takes place on May 2–to bolster engagement and raise $3,500 toward education and advocacy efforts that seek to protect historic Rosenwald Schools in the Midlands and across the state. These schools and the land they occupy offer a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between cultural preservation and land protection in underserved communities.
Rosenwald Schools were among the most influential forces for Southern African Americans in the first half of the 20th century, with over 5,000 schools built for students across the Southeast through grants funded by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. The schools provided education, improved social mobility, and vastly increased college attendance for rural African Americans, setting the stage for the civil rights movement.
There were nearly 500 Rosenwald schools built in South Carolina in the early 1900s (1917-1932), but due to development, sprawl, and neglect, only 40 remain standing in various states of repair. Without action, those that remain could soon fall victim to the same issues.
“If you’re unfamiliar with Rosenwald schools, you’re not alone, which is why we’ve made it a top priority to spread awareness through this platform about the historical impact and imminent threat to these sites,” said Zach Bjur, CVSCEF’s Land, Water, and Ocean Project Manager.
In a press conference earlier this year, which announced legislation that designated
February 28, 2023, as Rosenwald School Day in South Carolina, Representative Pat Henegan urged, “These schools and their legacy are under threat. As these schools and school sites are lost to the degradation of time, urban sprawl, and development, their stories are lost with them. The story of institutional roadblocks to African American education and the will of the community to overcome those obstacles against all odds. We must do everything within our power to breathe life into these stories and protect them for generations to come.”
CVSCEF invites their Midlands neighbors to participate by donating to protect the schools in a state-wide network that would preserve them as important cultural landmarks while also providing public parks for the communities that need them most. The benefits of green space access are well known, leading not only to positive environmental outcomes but improved mental and physical health.
John Tynan, CVSCEF Executive Director, noted, “CVSCEF has and will continue to educate state leaders and coordinate with Rosenwald School community partners until we can one day protect these schools permanently in a state-wide network. We urge you to help us take the next steps by donating, sharing, and supporting this work. We won’t be able to hit our $3,500 fundraising goal without your help.”
Those who are interested in learning more or donating to advance the protection of Rosenwald Schools can visit the CVSCEF profile on the Midlands Gives platform.
Conservation Voters of South Carolina Education Fund (CVSCEF) is dedicated to maximizing the participation of conservation-minded citizens in public policy decisions at the state and local levels regarding South Carolina’s environment and natural resources. Learn more at cvscef.org.