MYRTLE BEACH – Bank of America today announced United Way of Horry County (UWHC) as the 2023 Neighborhood Champion® awardee for their work advancing economic mobility and building up underserved communities in coastal Carolina. Through this multi-year grant funding and leadership training for the nonprofits’ leadership, UWHC will continue its work addressing four priority areas, with a particular focus on the education priority by launching a new initiative to train local early childhood educators to prepare pre-school children for phonics and reading comprehension.
As part of the bank’s Neighborhood Builders program, one of the largest philanthropic investment into nonprofit leadership development in the nation, Neighborhood Champions provides funding and leadership training to nonprofits that are advancing economic mobility and building up underserved neighborhoods.
Through the program, UWHC will receive the opportunity to participate in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector on topics like human capital management, increasing financial sustainability and storytelling and a $50,000 grant over two years.
UWHC provides programs, collective impact work, and investments on four pillars – health, education, self-sufficiency, and basic needs – that significantly contribute to meeting the needs of our community through our Bold Goals as established in the Community Game Plan. As of the 22/23 school year, only 28.2% of children who entered kindergarten in Horry County were prepared.
This new grant funding will allow UWHC to address the gap in early childhood education by implementing the Heggerty program, a nationally recognized phonemic awareness curriculum which equips teachers with effective and engaging products and professional learning opportunities that help prepare and empower all students to become lifelong readers.
“Being named this year’s Bank of America Neighborhood Champion will allow United Way of Horry County to address an identified early education gap by launching the Heggerty program in Horry County,” said Blakely Roof, President and CEO, UWHC. “Ultimately, this curriculum will upskill our teachers and better prepare our pre-school children for kindergarten. Bringing this program to our community will benefit our students and their families, local schools, and our broader community in new and unforeseen ways.”
The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and nonprofits are selected by a committee comprised of community leaders and past awardees. Five nonprofits have been selected as Champions in Myrtle Beach since 2019, with the bank investing $250,000 into these local nonprofits as part of the program.
“Nonprofits are vital to solving social challenges, improving communities and promoting economic advancement,” said Kelly Tyler, president, Bank of America Myrtle Beach. “Providing nonprofits like United Way of Horry County with flexible funding and leadership training not only positions these nonprofits for sustainable, long-term success, but demonstrates our commitment to creating real change in the places where we live and work.”
Since 2004, Bank of America has invested more than $300 million in nearly 100 communities across the U.S., partnered with more than 1,600 nonprofits, and helped more than 3,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills through the Neighborhood Builders and Champions program.