AFL awards significant tech grants in local South Carolina community

Feb. 22, 2022
In the past two months, AFL has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Greenville Tech Foundation, supporting student emergency needs; and has awarded $50K+ in grants to 10 upstate South Carolina organizations.

AFL, a manufacturer of fiber-optic cable, connectivity and equipment based Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Feb. 17 announced it has awarded a $10,000 grant to Greenville Tech Foundation to support Greenville Technical College (GTC) students enrolled in STEM degree programs, who face an unexpected financial emergency that may prevent them from continuing their education.

The grant will enable STEM students facing a financial crisis to continue their education, graduate and enter the workforce to fill essential jobs in the Upstate of South Carolina.

“We regularly see requests from students who have an unexpected tuition balance after financial aid awards have been exhausted or who may struggle to pay for additional college expenses like textbooks, supplies, uniforms, or testing fees that are not covered by other forms of financial aid,” explained Ann Wright, vice president of advancement for Greenville Tech Foundation. “Sometimes students face other financial emergencies such as utility cutoff, eviction, car repairs, medical expenses, and childcare expenses that impede educational goals.”

As cited by AFL, "studies show that one of the main reasons for dropping out reported by students relates to financial challenges. The likelihood of a student re-enrolling in college after dropping out is low, with only 30 percent returning to finish a degree. Student emergency funds provide just-in-time financial interventions to students making progress toward a STEM degree and have a genuine unmet financial need."

Almost 50 percent of GTC students are from low-income homes and some 60 percent of students take classes while also working. Many are the first in their family to attend college. Others are single parents, trying to manage work, college, and childcare.

Wright continued, “Any extra expense can be an obstacle to graduation, but research shows that direct financial support has a significant impact on keeping students in school and getting them to graduation.”

The grant from AFL will extend GTC’s existing Student Emergency Needs program for STEM degree-seeking students. Funding will provide one-time financial assistance to STEM degree students for financial emergencies that would prevent a student from continuing their education. Assistance is capped at $1,000 per student. This program has already helped more than 180 students with emergency aid for the different barriers.

The grant award announcement comes on the heels of AFL awarding $50K+ in grants to 10 upstate South Carolina organizations

In January, AFL presented $51,000 in community grants to ten organizations in the upstate of South Carolina. Made possible by AFL’s Community Outreach Program, the organization’s programs align with AFL’s three focus areas including STEM Education, Youth Development and a new focus area called LEAP (Life Enrichment & Advancement Programs) which supports adults pursuing employment and self-sufficiency.

Recipients of the AFL winter grant cycle include:

  • March of Dimes South Carolina – Funding supports training for the NICU Family Support Coordinator and educational materials for NICU programs in South Carolina.
  • Greenville Tech Foundation – The grant supports one-time financial assistance to STEM degree students for financial emergencies that would prevent a student from continuing their education.
  • The Advanced Institute for Development and Learning – Funding supports training costs and educational materials for families.
  • Spartanburg Science Center – Funding supports a virtual program called, “Out of the Lab with…” and targets students third grade and up on becoming a scientist. This program is an extension of a 2020 grant issued by AFL to purchase virtual studio equipment at the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Momentum Bike Clubs – This grant supports a program called Artistically Reshaping Trauma (A.R.T.+) Circles, a group-mentoring program that uses art forms to build community.
  • Public Education Partners – Funding supports the Elevate Teachers suite of programming that focuses on strengthening teacher recruitment, retention and morale.
  • Miracle Hill Ministries – This grant supports the Jobs for Life Employment Training for Homeless Men, ages 18 and older, who reside at the Greenville Rescue Mission, a 130-bed emergency shelter. Funding will be used to expand the program to two classes per year with 12 students and 12 mentors in each class.
  • Upstate Family Resource Center – Funding supports the Pathway to Progress program which is designed to assist families as they overcome barriers that impact financial stability.
  • The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – Funds support the interactive steamWORKS lab which challenges children and families to problem solve through building activities, conducting science experiments, exploring math and creating art.

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