Heart4Schools: SC Baptists’ Response to the State’s Education Crisis

The Nation’s Report Card shows that SC Schools dropped nationally from 39th to 47th in literacy. South Carolina’s education system needs immediate assistance. Studies have shown the number one indicator of success in a child’s life is their ability to read at grade level by the time they finish the 3rd grade. The South Carolina Baptist Convention recognizes this crisis and is working diligently to assist through the Heart4Schools Initiative.

Heart4Schools helps churches offer hope to community children and become active in local schools by providing reading mentors, teacher support, and a food distribution program called Backpack Buddies.

  • Reading Mentors spend time with individual students to ensure they are reading at grade level by the 3rd
  • Teacher Support teams work to relieve the stress of overworked teachers by providing meals, school supplies and sending notes and gifts of encouragement throughout the school year.
  • The Backpack Buddies Program provides for those children living in hunger with stocked bookbags for weekend meals.

Currently, over 200 South Carolina Baptist churches have taken part in the initiative and are now volunteering their time and efforts to local schools. Some churches have created their own programs, such as Journey Church, who has developed a gourmet coffee cart to serve teachers monthly. Radius Church in Lexington has previously raised $120,000 to distribute amongst the schools of Lexington 1’s district to assist families in the holiday season. All of these actions and programs show the true desire of Heart4Schools, to connect every local school in South Carolina with an SC Baptist church that loves and serves them.

“One thing we have learned by partnering with schools is that teachers are not just educators, but counselors, coaches and advocates for our children. We encourage churches to walk alongside teachers to encourage and support these efforts so that every child can be successful,” said Melanie Ratcliffe, Heart4Schools Strategist for the SCBC.

Ratcliffe works with SC Baptist churches to adopt local schools and provides resources and trainings to make the most of the volunteers’ time with the students and teachers.

Lee Clamp, Evangelism Team Leader, said, “South Carolina Baptists love our local schools.  We believe that every child deserves hope.  Our desire is to see every public school connected with a church that is loving and serving the teachers and students. Over 200 South Carolina Baptist churches all over our state are encouraging our teachers, mentoring students, and feeding at risk students over the weekend.”

For more information on the program or to get involved, visit www.heart4schools.org or contact Melanie Ratcliffe at melanieratcliffe@scbaptist.org.