Community Initiatives

The Mary Black Foundation plays a leadership role in a number of community collaborations.  As convener, facilitator, and, at times, funder, the Foundation is actively involved in many initiatives outside its grantmaking.  Below is more information about some of the most recent collaborations.


Connect is an initiative of the Mary Black Foundation, funded through the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH). In 2014, the Foundation received a five-year, $5.3 million grant from OAH to reduce teen pregnancy throughout Spartanburg County.  Connect seeks to promote adolescent friendly services, supports, and opportunities throughout Spartanburg. Connect collaborates with local adolescent-serving agencies to build capacity in adolescent friendly services and implement evidence-based interventions. Partners include health care service providers, schools, faith communities, non-profit organizations, state agencies, law enforcement, employers, teen advocates, and trusted community members. Connect seeks to improve the outcomes for our most valuable resource: our teens.  For more information visit the Connect website.


The Foundation convened partners throughout Spartanburg County to apply for the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, a two-year challenge sponsored by the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of Counties.  Spartanburg County was selected as one of 50 communities to participate in late 2016.  Now branded as HealthyCommunity50, the challenge is intended to reward communities that can spur the most improvement in community health over the two years.  The grand prize is $500,000.   Spartanburg County is focusing its efforts on increasing physical activity through healthy schools and healthy communities.  For more information, click here.

Healthy Families Initiative

The Foundation launched the five-year Healthy Families Initiative in 2017, in partnership with the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.  Serving as the Activating/Coordinating Agency, locally the Hope Center for Children has taken on the role of supporting nine (9) Implementing Agencies in the delivery of the evidence-based Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) framework across the County.  Parents are a child’s first teacher, and through this effort we are ensuring that parents have access to supports whenever, and however the support is needed. For more information, click here.

Quality Counts

The Foundation provided the seed funding and initial convening support to pilot Spartanburg’s own rating and improvement system for child care programs.  Now implemented by Spartanburg County First Steps, Quality Counts serves as a continuous quality improvement model that helps child care programs achieve high quality educational environments that exceed basic health and safety standards.  High quality learning programs provide an enriching educational environment where children engage in developmentally appropriate learning and play, guided by a qualified caregiver. Quality Counts recognizes and publicizes the quality of participating programs and allows families to research and seek out the program that is best for their child.  To learn more, visit the Quality Counts website.

RWJF Culture of Health

Each year, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation honors and elevates U.S. communities that are making great strides in their journey to better health and well-being.  In 2015, Spartanburg County was named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize winner.  The Mary Black Foundation led the application process, convened local partners, and facilitated the site visit with the selection committee.  Through a community input process, Upstate Warrior Solutions was selected to receive the $25,000 cash prize to continue its work to provide housing for homeless veterans.  To learn more about why Spartanburg County was selected, click here.

Way to Wellville

The Foundation led Spartanburg’s effort to join the Way to Wellville, a ten-year national challenge to develop new and innovative solutions that amplify and accelerate community health within five focus areas: Access to Care for the Uninsured, Community Pride, Health for the Insured, Kindergarten Readiness, and Obesity Prevention. Alongside the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, and the University of South Carolina Upstate, the Foundation coordinates five focus area committees and contracts with a Project Coordinator and a Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator to ensure Spartanburg’s success.  The Way to Wellville will inspire everyone in our community to create changes that lead to better health. To learn more about our journey to a healthier Spartanburg, visit Spartanburg’s Way to Wellville website.


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