BRIEF (Blue Ridge Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundation)
Through support to BRIEF we are increasing hands-on technology learning programs for children in Oconee County. Robotics classes have begun at the Tamassee Daughters of the American School (TDAR) reaching 45 children. Plans are underway to reach approximately 50 high school students through summer camps in 2024. Falls volunteers are leveraging their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) backgrounds to foster: excitement for learning, engagement in using technical skills, and empower problem solving and critical thinking skills.
BRIEF’s mission is to provide access, training, and experience to kids from low income families that they need to thrive in today’s technology driven world.
Tamassee-Salem Elementary School
Numerous Falls volunteers have been involved with TSE since 2013. Most recently, CRO funded the TSE Challenge to be Great Scholarship Program for 5th graders which will provide encouragement for them to pursue higher education upon graduation from high school. CRO also provided support for “Literacy Footprints” a curriculum that targets specific student needs and provides classroom intervention. CRO’s “One for All” campaign and subsequent supplemental funding enabled the school to provide chrome books and headphones to each student. Through these efforts the school became the technology model for all of Oconee County. Volunteers are active with reading, mentoring and tutoring programs at the school.
Walhalla Middle School (WMS)
In 2022 CRO began partnering with WMS to fund programs aimed at easing the transition of incoming 6th grade students into Middle School. Through collaboration with 6th grade teachers these new programs will include an event designed to foster a sense of community, will provide a Student/Parent 411 Session, and will develop attendance incentives.
Tamassee DAR School (TDAR)
TDAR serves children and families in the area to overcome life’s obstacles through campus and community-based programs that nurture loving homes, inspire wholeness, expand educational horizons and train exceptional citizens. Their recently realigned focus includes an exceptional infant to 4 year pre-k program, an afterschool and summer program and a new residential program for mothers recovering from addiction and their children. This residential program is designed to provide a healing environment for the family unit giving the mothers the tools to succeed in life and their children the tools to thrive in school and in personal development. CRO continues to support this community partner through providing tools for STEM educational programs, technology for afterschool programs and educational supplies for the early learning program and by encouraging volunteers to engage with the TDAR to support their life-changing programs.
Walhalla High School (WHS)
CRO volunteers have worked with school counselors to motivate students toward personal and academic success. CRO funding has historically been focused on the 150 “at risk” students enrolled in the Success Program to provide initiative incentives based upon academic goals and school attendance. Most recently CRO has funded STEM curriculum linked to outdoor learning and environmental stewardship. This includes funding two “earned” scholarships for FOLKS Watershed Stewardship.
Collins Children’s Home
When a child enters Collins Children’s Home they are given a welcome duffel bag, new clothes if they need them, and a warm loving place to call home. These children, between the ages of birth to 21 have been abused, abandoned, neglected or are otherwise unable to live with their families. CRO funding helps to provide resources so that these children get exposure to activities that families typically experience such as a water park, a movie, restaurant dinner, the Columbia Zoo, etc.. The CRO also provides funds to offset the expenses of counseling and training costs as well as furnishings to create study areas.
Grace’s Closet helps students build self-confidence and excel both in and out of school by providing basic resources such as clothing, hygiene items, school supplies and weekend food. An inviting, boutique-like room is available at 19 Oconee County schools where students are welcome to shop and take items they need. Everything is free to the students. The Falls CRO funds the Grace’s Closet locations at Tamassee-Salem Elementary School, Walhalla Middle School and Walhalla High School. CRO volunteers also staff these locations and even help students select Christmas gifts for family members.