The Vineyards CRO focus is literacy, health, wellness and education for the children of Pickens County, SC. We aim to remove barriers so every child has an opportunity to thrive and succeed. Our support ranges from the very youngest child through to high school. Vineyards CRO supports two elementary schools (Pickens and Hagood), Pickens Middle School, Pickens High School and the Pickens Career and Technology Center which serves all 4 Pickens county High schools. Preschool support also includes funding for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library across Pickens County.

Our Programs


CRO has provided support for this elementary school since 2016, following the closure of Holly Springs Elementary School.  To understand the needs and opportunities at this elementary school it is helpful to understand a little about the student body:

  • 556 Students in Pre-K through 5th Grade
  • 70% living below the poverty line
  • 25:1 Teacher Ratio
  • 16% of students have a disability
  • 7.7% of students are in gifted and talented programs
  • Pickens Elementary serves two meals a day to a large number of students and also serves as a summer location for meals.

Examples of CRO Assistance

  • Pest Control for a family dealing with roaches at home and in clothing/school backpack.
  • Home internet connection for a young student who was out of school for several months due to an illness.  The student was able to keep up with her assignments and is now back in school half days. 
  • Field Trip scholarships for gifted students to attend an annual academic field trip
  • Funding for several students to attend a summer academic camp


CRO extended support to this second elementary school in 2018.  Similar to Pickens Elementary School, this Title I school’s student body is composed of:

  • 485 Students in Pre-K through 5th Grade
  • 75% living below the poverty line
  • 20:1 Student-Teacher Ratio
  • 6.5% of students in gifted and talented programs
  • A majority of the students get two of their meals each day from the schools, including during the summer.

Examples of CRO Assistance

  • School Supplies so no student starts without
  • Car insurance for a single father who was unemployed and looking for work.
  • Covering prescription cost for a grandmother raising her grandchild and dealing with a gap period in coverage.
  • Financial aid for a struggling single mother of two who could not pay her electric bill

Early Childhood Literacy Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Now Available in Pickens County!

Vineyards CRO started with a 40 child pilot at the Holly Springs preschool one year ago, and now 12 months later, 76% of Pickens County children under 5 years old are eligible to receive a free book monthly through this program

Vineyards CRO goal is to provide Imagination Library access to every eligible child in Pickens County. And we are almost there! Eight out of ten Pickens County zip codes are now sponsored and 1,465 children have registered! We are delighted that Springs CRO, The Reserve Foundation, and First Steps of Pickens County have joined us, and collectively we can now work on growing our registrations. Stay tuned! We look forward to sharing more about this exciting new effort as it grows and as we reach out to you again this year for support. 

YAM Instrumental Music Program at Pickens and Hagood Elementary Schools

Research shows that instrumental music training fires up the brain circuitry that is also used for languages and math. While the Pickens County School District does not offer a full instrumental music program at the elementary school level, they do make their school facilities available to Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) for after school lessons. YAM introduces children to the music of their heritage through small group instruction in instruments common to the Appalachian region (fiddle/violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin).

This year YAM has increased their enrollment across Pickens County from 160 to 400 students. Hagood Elementary went from 0 enrolled students to 38 students. At Pickens Elementary we now have 61 enrolled students! We are currently supporting 25 children in the YAM Plus Academic program at Hagood and Pickens Elementary Schools.

Vineyards CRO grant has covered 1) the restringing of instruments, 2) free or reduced fees so no child is financially prohibited from participating, and 3) full scholarships for the Hagood and Pickens Elementary students in the YAM Pus Academic program.

FOLKS Jack Lewis Watershed Stewardship Scholarship

Jack Lewis was a beloved member of the Vineyards community and a twenty year volunteer with Friends of Lake Keowee Society, a 501(c)3 dedicated to preservation and conservation of our beautiful Lake Keowee and watershed. Jack was a past President of FOLKS and recently they named a scholarship in his honor. The Jack Lewis Watershed Stewardship Scholarship is awarded to high school students who show a strong interest in natural resource conservation and the environment. FOLKS received 10 applications for scholarships in 2022 and awarded scholarships to 5 students. This year CRO-Vineyards has endowed two scholarships for Pickens County students. The scholarship application is due January 31st and winners will be announced March 1, 2023.

Flame Fridays at Pickens High School


The Pickens High School Principal recognizes that many of his high school students are not free to participate in after school clubs, sports or activities. Research shows that students that are engaged with their fellow students are less likely to drop out and generally perform bett

fter school for clubs because many of them work to help support their families or are the caregivers for younger siblings or cousins so that the adults in the family are free to be full-time wage earners in the evenings. Another challenge is that many of the students are highly dependent on the school bus system as the Pickens attendance area runs from the county border with Greenville County all the way to North Carolina.

er. Over 56% of the Pickens High School student population is identified as pupils in poverty (PIP). It is very difficult for these students to stay a

This situation led the PHS Principal to initiate “Flame Fridays” and dedicate a school hour, every other Friday, to club activities so every student can participate in a club. The goal is create a culture where every student feels a sense of belonging. CRO Vineyards provides funds to each club each semester to offset expenses and student fees.

Pickens Middle & High School Robotics Club

Building on the success of last year’s 7th grade team that qualified for the World Competition, CRO asked the Robotics Club teacher what she needed to expand and grow participation.  She provided us with a list of technology items from robotics kits to GPS technology that would enable participants to develop higher level programming skills and allow more students to join.  CRO provided funds to purchase the new technology.  The Robotics Club teacher has used the older technology to expand robotics learning to 6th graders. 


For the last 4 years, the Pickens County United Way in partnership with the Pickens County School District and the YMCA has conducted a successful summer academic camp at the elementary school level.  The program focuses on preventing the “summer slide” and helping rising 1st through 4th graders who could use a boost to be at grade-level when school starts.

Not surprisingly, elementary level reading competency took a hit during the pandemic. Last year and this year will be key to getting students back on track. Camp iRock is an award winning summer reading camp that targets students needing a little extra boost to reach grade level reading skill before the next school year. Camp iRock attendees are nominated by their teachers and attend free. CRO, once again, is providing funds to Camp iRock for this summer’s camp.

CRO provides financial support and in 2020 provided books for each of the campers since the camp was virtual with online instruction and at home packets.  Campers had the option of attending the camp in-person for the last two weeks.

One School, One Book

Last summer, CRO funded a summer pilot of One School One Book for Hagood Elementary School. Pickens and Hagood Elementary school offer this program during the school year in which one book is selected and the entire school community – parents, volunteers, and teachers – reads that book over a period of weeks to the children. CRO has budgeted to purchase all the books for this summer’s initiative and have reached out to Pickens Elementary to see if they would also like to participate. CRO’s goal is that every child at these two schools will go home at the end of the school year with the selected book and recommended activities for the parents and children to follow.


Once a year, volunteers from our community provide some holiday cheer for deserving children in our area. This past year Pickens and Hagood Elementary School staff selected 20 children for some extra aid and 20 volunteer angels rallied to their cause. Each volunteer purchased needed clothing items and a gift, then wrapped them all so the parents could give them to their child.


On the strength of last year’s donations, your CRO Advisory Council was able to pursue some big, bold initiatives that we had contemplated for years. Our residents and our corporate partners together contributed $172,000 to the Vineyard’s CRO during 2022. We have broadened our support to a number of new programs:

  • A year ago we launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in northern Pickens County and have now expanded it to all of Pickens County. The Imagination Library is a 20+year old early childhood program that now delivers 2 million books per month to children ages 0-5 across the globe. We had a very successful pilot of the program at Holly Springs Preschool and have extended our support to all of Pickens County.  
  • Your funding support also includes instrumental music education for elementary through middle school 
  • Scholarships for dual enrollment at Pickens High School, technical education at the Pickens Career and Technical Center (for high schoolers) and summer academic camps  
Presenting Corporate Partner

CRO is grateful for the ongoing generous support of our Corporate Partners which plays an important part in reaching our goals. Please support them if you are in need of their goods or services, and join us in thanking them for their commitment to our mission!

Our Corporate Partners Make a Difference.

For information about becoming a Corporate Partner, please contact Scott Wallace

For questions about current initiatives, please contact any of our Advisory Council Members.

Advisory Council

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