By Scott Wierman

The 2022-23 school year is upon us and with a new academic year comes an incredible amount of excitement and opportunities for students, parents and teachers. Whether the student is enrolled in pre-k or entering college as a freshman, along with excitement comes a new set of challenges.

For some students, the challenges go far beyond the classroom. Unfortunately, many Lowcountry students face substantial hurdles in achieving a quality education, including poverty and lack of resources. It is rare to reach universal agreement on just about any topic, but we all can agree that education is critical in the mental and emotional development of a child.

The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is a great place to start if you are interested in creating educational opportunities for Lowcountry students in need. We currently administer approximately 25 Education Funds and 40 Scholarship Funds, and offer a variety of Fund options: Donor-Advised, Scholarship, Field of Interest, and Designated. By creating an education-themed fund or scholarship, you can have a long-lasting impact on the future of under-resourced students.

The William and Mary Cale Education Enhancement Fund was created in 2020 with a mission to provide support, educational projects, programs and instructional tools which directly increase student learning opportunities and build upon or expand classroom curriculum programs and materials. In a short amount of time, the fund has already had a positive impact on teachers and students at two Jasper County schools, the CATE Center and Hardeeville Elementary.

Creating a fund in memory of an educator is a proactive way of honoring someone’s legacy. The Joe Distelheim Award for Literacy was established in memory of Joe Distelheim, an accomplished newspaper editor who settled in Hilton Head Island with his wife and volunteered his time at the Literacy Center teaching English to immigrants. The inaugural awards were presented this past May to four students who have demonstrated measurable gains in English-language fluency.

The Community Foundation also collaborates with local governments, school districts, and organizations to provide additional educational opportunities for students. One such organization is the Foundation for Educational Excellence, which seeks and sustains charitable and educational resources that support the mission and goals of the public schools of Beaufort County. Within the Foundation for Educational Excellence, there are three funds managed by the Community Foundation, including the Priority Projects Fund that provides grants in support of special projects, opportunities and current needs identified by the Beaufort County School District.

The friendly, knowledgeable staff at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry will take the time with you to explain the fund creation process. To set up an appointment, please call 843-681-9100 or visit If you would like to support an education-themed fund, please visit and choose “Education” and “Scholarship” in Categories.

Scott Wierman is President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.