$20,000 Awarded to 11 Local Nonprofits for Inaugural Beyond the Table Mini-Grants

Projects inspired by conversations during Central Carolina Community Foundation’s first On the Table initiative

Columbia, S.C., April 18, 2019 – Central Carolina Community Foundation – the Midlands’ center for philanthropy – is pleased to award $20,000 total to 11 local nonprofits for the inaugural Beyond the Table mini-grants. The projects being funded were inspired by conversations that took place during the inaugural On the Table conversations in October 2018 and address one of the areas identified as a community priority in the On the Table survey. Grant information and the full survey results are available at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

An estimated 1,500 Richland and Lexington County residents gathered together for the inaugural On the Table day of conversations on October 24, 2018. The initiative focused on facilitating organic, informal community conversations and inspiring action across communities.

Throughout the day conversations covered hundreds of topics. Following the conversations, participants were asked to take a survey that provided a snapshot of the community issues they felt were most important. The survey results revealed an overwhelmingly positive outlook about the community’s future and uncovered areas of opportunity, including economic development, poverty, walkable and bikeable areas and resources for small business entrepreneurs.

“The inaugural On the Table conversations sparked thousands of ideas to make our region a more vibrant and engaged community,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “Funding these grants allows us to move Beyond the Table and propel a number of these innovative ideas into action.”

Applications for Beyond the Table grants opened in February 2019 after the survey results were revealed. Nonprofits and individuals with a nonprofit fiscal sponsor were eligible to apply. The eleven selected nonprofits and their projects include:


  • Auntie Karen Foundation for “Block Party – Farmer’s Market Pilot,” which will bring neighbors together in the 29203 zip code through block party style farmer’s markets.


  • Central Midlands Development Corporation for “Columbia Food Policy Committee Town Hall Food Forum,” an opportunity to facilitate conversations between city officials, stakeholders and community members facing food insecurity.
  • Cola Town Bike Collective for “Bridging Communities Event and Art Space,” which will turn the block occupied by Cola Town Bike Collective’s new location in Elmwood neighborhood into a welcoming and vibrant community event space.
  • Greater Columbia Community Relations Council for “Becoming Part of the Solution,” which will document citizen’s suggestions and innovative ideas for addressing, reducing and, ultimately, eliminating crime, violence, racism and discrimination.
  • Lexington County Public Library System for “Building a Healthy Community,” an outdoor structure that will provide a place for families and their children to interact outside of the South Congaree-Pine Ridge Branch.
  • Midlands Mediation Center for “Power Monday – Peace Talks,” a monthly series of free, public sessions designed to promote peaceful conversations between individuals in the workplace, school and community.
  • Providence Home for “the Hope for Tomorrow” project, which will sponsor inmates in the Department of Correction’s Re-Entry program, allowing inmates to overcome financial barriers and focus on maximizing the program’s services.
  • Sustainable Midlands for “Fresh and Local Centerpiece at Tasty Tomato,” a project developing a neighborhood map of access to fresh, healthy food in the 29203 area.
  • Town of Chapin for “Community Engagement Council,” which will meet quarterly to host facilitated discussions between community members, elected officials and town employees to map out a unified vision for the Chapin community.
  • United Way of the Midlands for “Family Engagement Nights,” that will educate families about the importance of reading at home and empower them with the knowledge to make the home to school connection.
  • Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) for “Seat at the Table,” a project that will produce a resource guide for employers in the Midlands on practical and accessible solutions to attract, retain and advance women into their workforce.

Central Carolina Community Foundation plans to continue the conversation and has scheduled the next On the Table for October 22, 2019.

Rooted in a National Initiative

Central Carolina Community Foundation is hosting On the Table with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The initiative replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Since then, the initiative has fostered civic engagement and generated hundreds of actionable ideas from tens of thousands of Chicago-area residents.  

Over the past two years, the initiative has been replicated nationally in more than 25 communities across the nation, including 12 cities supported by the Knight Foundation.

Support for On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation advances Knight Foundation’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory.

For more information visit www.onthetablecola.org or call 803.254.5601.

About Central Carolina Community Foundation

Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands' center for philanthropy, is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. Major initiatives include the Midlands Gives online giving challenge; Connected Communities grants; On the Table; the One SC Fund; the Best of Philanthropy Awards; annual scholarships; and more. For more information about the Community Foundation, visit www.yourfoundation.org or call 803.254.5601.

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