Putting New Ideas to Work In South Carolina
Our mission is to identify innovative strategies to address the social and economic challenges facing our state, and put them into action.
Through unique partnerships with governments, businesses, civic groups, schools, and religious organizations, we then go to work, applying the strategies we’ve discovered to the ongoing work of building successful communities.
We’re not a government agency or a private business. We are an independent, non-profit initiative. Our funding comes from many sources, but mostly from citizens who believe in the potential of our state.
We were founded in 1984 by leaders of the state’s business community who believed that every problem we face has a solution. Over the years, they brought together civic leaders, educational institutions, corporations, governmental agencies, and others to rethink our state’s approach to everything from healthcare to education, from election reform to race relations.
The Palmetto Project has been the catalyst for over 330 successful public-private partnerships that have helped change South Carolina for the better. Many of these ideas have been replicated in other states and even in other countries.
Today, our efforts are helping communities create jobs and provide health care, making schools safer and exciting while improving test scores, and enhancing the learning skills of our youngest children in ways that will help them compete on an equal footing with others.
For the past 20 years, the Palmetto Project has been a leading advocate for a more effective system of health care for South Carolinians regardless of their financial circumstances, race, or residency. During this time the organization became a national leader in patient navigation, community-based care delivery, and reducing cardiovascular disease among at-risk African Americans. Other initiatives have boosted South Carolina to becoming a national leader in childhood immunization, health insurance enrollment, and Medicaid coverage for children.
The Palmetto Project sees healthy families, engaged young people, and vibrant schools as the cornerstones of effective communities. Our initiatives provide thousands of vulnerable families with connections to social service agencies, support services, food, and even Christmas presents. Evidence-based programs in early literacy and campus violence have translated into greater school readiness among the state’s youngest learners and safer, more inclusive schools for our teenagers.
In South Carolina, when race is a factor, it is the factor. However, the Palmetto Project has become a leader in equipping communities with new tools to enhance communications, create trust, and solve problems. Other programming encourages young people to strive to become “world-class” and reach out beyond our state’s borders. Our long-standing support of companion organizations in Africa has broadened South Carolinians appreciation for a big part of our heritage.
Since we launched our Palmetto Voter Project in 1994, South Carolina voters have set records for turnout in every election. In 2004 more than half of the state’s eligible voters cast ballots for the first time in history, and then did it again in 2008 and 2012 by even bigger margins. Our leadership in reforming the state’s election system in 2003 continues to insure that our state’s votes are fully counted and voting is accessible and fair.