Spartanburg County Foundation Awards $12,500 “Just Because” Grants

An artistic tree made of handprints.

Spartanburg County Foundation has launched its most recent ambush philanthropy campaign, surprising five local organizations with checks for $2,500.

A group including the Foundation’s Board Chair (Bert Barre), President and CEO (Troy Hanna), donors, advisors, and staff boarded a bus provided by the City of Spartanburg to deliver the grants “Publisher Clearinghouse” style complete with balloons.   The funds, given with no restrictions on their use, provide a boost to organizations serving Spartanburg County residents.

This year’s five awardees were:

  • Proud Mary Theatre presents LGBTQ+ voices and stories in Spartanburg and the entire Upstate region through theatrical plays: compelling dramas, rib-tickling comedies, campy musicals, and local original works and avant-garde pieces that celebrate diversity and acceptance. The theatre company has just entered its sixth season, building inclusive, respectful, and safe spaces for all community members.
  • Operation Hope – Landrum offers faith-based outreach crisis ministry as a hub for assistance for residents in the Spartanburg School District One and Landrum areas of Spartanburg County. The organization provides financial assistance to prevent utility disconnection, provide heating, medication, food, essential items, school supplies, clothing and household items. Operation Hope has recently launched a partnership with ReGenesis Health Care and will soon host a mobile health clinic in Landrum twice a month.
  • Mary and Martha Services coordinates the intake, repair and distribution of in-kind donations to support displaced individuals in upstate South Carolina by providing essential furniture and household items to those in need. Their goal is to make a house a home by providing all needed household essentials to those who are victims of natural disaster, fire, or most recently Ukrainian War refuge seekers.\
  • Black Economic Mobility Coalition works to identify, address, and remove barriers to economic prosperity for Black residents and business owners in the Upstate with an emphasis on Spartanburg County. The organization supports free or low-cost credit building, wealth building and business development support services. BEMC advocates for better policies and practices that promote equitable opportunities benefitting communities of color and removing barriers to economic growth
  • Spartanburg Science Center provides accessible science education and enrichment for students and adults through interactive educational programs, hands-on exhibits and community outreach including in-class school-based programming, after-school programs, field trips, clubs, summer camps, and more.

The Foundation does not accept applications for “Just Because” grants.  They are part of the Foundation’s Proactive Grantmaking strategy, where staff identify organizations to receive funding based upon the type of work they do, their geographic location, and their part in meeting the overall needs of residents.  The goal is to provide unrestricted funds to support the chosen organizations while bringing awareness to the work each is doing. The first Just Because Day sponsored by the Spartanburg County Foundation was held in 2014.

“Our donors enjoy contributing to the ‘Just Because’ fund because they know that the Foundation’s Community Leadership team understand where the needs are and what organizations can make an impact with this funding. These grants are meant to be thoughtful and strategic while being innovative, spontaneous, and fun.”  said Troy M. Hanna, President of the Spartanburg County Foundation.

Paula Baker, a community activist and philanthropist, shared her perspective about “Just Because” funding in a blog post made earlier this year, noting that efforts like this serve to leverage the knowledge of the Foundation’s grants team to build community support for organizations that may not receive visibility. “Awareness and publicity of this type may very well pull in other donors,” Baker shared.

Prepared by OneSpartanburg, Inc.