Mary Black Memorial Hospital was founded in 1925 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The founders, Dr. Hugh Ratchford Black and his two sons, Dr. Sam Orr Black, Sr. and Dr.Hugh Snoddy Black, named it in honor of their wife and mother, Mary Louisa Snoddy Black. The Mary Black Foundation was founded in 1985 to support the hospital, which was a nonprofit hospital. In 1996, the hospital was sold to Quorum Health Group, Inc. (a for-profit company) for $62 million. At this time, the Mary Black Foundation legally separated its association with the Mary Black Memorial Hospital and reconfigured its charitable mission with the $62 million as its corpus. The mission was to improve health and wellness in Spartanburg County.
Fiscal year 97-98, the Foundation’s first year of grantmaking after its separation from the hospital, helped define its reconfigured mission. As the first South Carolina foundation to create an initiative, the Foundation’s announcement in March 1997 of the Garrisons’ Healthy Families Initiative was an appropriate reflection of Mary Snoddy Black’s devotion to family. The Foundation’s grant to help create the Middle Tyger Community Center also represented a connection with her birthplace in the Duncan, Lyman, Wellford area of Spartanburg County.
The Foundation announced in the spring of 1997 its first initiative, the Garrisons’ Healthy Families Initiative (1997-2002). Named by the Trustees in appreciation for T.R. and Alma Garrison’s generous bequest, the Garrisons’ Initiative called for collaboration among nonprofits to address comprehensively the root causes of poor health by focusing on prenatal and childhood strategies, while including the entire family unit.
The Foundation’s second initiative, the Healthy Community Initiative (1998-2003), was a five-year commitment to address issues determined by the 1997 Spartanburg County Health Assessment: nutrition, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and illiteracy. The Foundation provided grants to task forces addressing these issues under the auspices of Healthy Spartanburg!, a collaboration of organizations and citizens working together to improve health status in Spartanburg County.
Shift to Strategic Grantmaking
In 2003, at the end of the two initiatives and after an 18-month planning process, the Foundation announced that it had identified two funding priority areas: Active Living and Early Childhood Development. In 2012, the Foundation expanded the Active Living priority area to include Healthy Eating.
In addition to the two priority areas, the Foundation awards grants through the Community Health Fund. The Community Health Fund is for projects outside the Foundation’s Healthy Eating | Active Living and Early Childhood Development priority areas. The Community Health Fund represents 10-20% of the Foundation’s total grantmaking.