Education’s Critical Role in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
If we take a moment to envision the brightest possible future for all children in Greenville County, most will agree that its promise depends on the quality of our public education system.
Public education is fundamental to a democratic, civil, and prosperous society, and is a critical lever for community health and prosperity. Public schools are institutions well-positioned for breaking the cycle of poverty and redressing social inequities.
Greenville is rightfully proud of its flourishing cultural life and prospering industry. However, its continuance depends on whether our school district—largest in the state and 44th largest in the nation—can respond to changing demands and challenges quickly, strategically, insightfully, equitably and systematically to ensure educational excellence for all.
Providing an excellent education for each of the more than 76,000 children of Greenville County—more than half of whom come from low-income families—is no small undertaking. A forward-looking school district like Greenville County Schools must have aligned partners with a community-wide, systems-level perspective and the increased flexibility to explore and marshal support for educational innovation, equity, and improvement.
The Way Forward
Championing educational innovation, equity, and improvement is precisely the function of Public Education Partners, formerly The Alliance for Quality Education. Since 1985, Public Education Partners has served as Greenville County’s only independent, non-profit organization dedicated to investing in and advocating for K-12 public education in Greenville.
Our mission, refined in 2019, is to lead our community in acting collectively to support, strengthen, and advance public education and student achievement in Greenville County Schools.
A Mutually Beneficial Partnership
The Jolley Foundation and PEP have a longstanding history of partnership to move the education needle in Greenville. For example, The Jolley Foundation’s past investment in PEP helped launch and scale Make Summer Count, PEP’s evidenced-based, award-winning, nationally recognized program that measurably mitigates summer reading loss for thousands of Greenville’s most vulnerable elementary students.
More recently, The Jolley Foundation has invested in PEP’s evolution from a service-providing entity to an intermediary grounded in educational equity and operating at the intersection of policy, research, and practice. Such an evolution is articulated in PEP’s new strategic plan and three priorities:
- Invest in creating conditions that position Greenville as an ideal destination for teachers.
- Leverage an advocacy point of view that supports PEP’s mission.
- Shift PEP’s capacity to support work at the systems-level.
As PEP engages in and positions itself to execute its refined mission and priorities, The Jolley Foundation remains a committed partner through financial investment and thought-partnership. Developing a policy and advocacy strategy to elevate the teaching profession and support equitable public education in Greenville; building a research base and tools such as EdsourceSC to share with our community; and helping convene education stakeholders at the grassroots level to build knowledge, capacity, and empowerment to be stronger advocates for strong public schools are examples of PEP’s emerging work in which The Jolley Foundation invests its dollars, time, and expertise.