Beaufort County Receives $800,000 Grant To Build New Tuition-Free Charter School


The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina has announced an $800,000 grant to the Sea Islands Heritage Academy, a new tuition-free charter school set to open in St. Helena, Beaufort County, in the fall of 2024. This significant investment, spread over four years, aims to support the school’s mission to provide equitable, high-quality education with a curriculum that honors and integrates the rich Gullah Geechee heritage of the region.

Sea Islands Heritage Academy, currently accepting applications for 6th and 7th grades, plans to expand to serve grades 6 through 12, depending on enrollment growth. The school’s establishment comes after four years of planning and community engagement led by founder Alana Jenkins, who collaborated with parents, educators, and community members to design an educational setting that meets the needs and aspirations of the community.

This grant, awarded through the Coastal Community Foundation’s Catalyst Grant program, marks the largest investment by the nonprofit in South Carolina’s south coast. The program supports large-scale initiatives addressing broad community issues and emphasizes sustainable, collaborative projects. The foundation had previously awarded a $100,000 grant to the academy in 2022 to aid in the application process.

The Sea Islands Heritage Academy aims not only to provide an inclusive and enriching educational experience but also to scale its model to serve students in neighboring Colleton, Jasper, and Charleston counties in the future. This initiative represents a significant step towards addressing educational inequities and preserving cultural heritage in South Carolina.

You can find out more info about the new school or apply here.