SAM is both a nonprofit organization and a community movement - funded by private donations and grants, working to convene action partners in fulfillment of the mission and vision of the county-wide effort to improve outcomes for children across a cradle to career continuum.
For generations, Spartanburg County was a textile-driven economy. Academic achievement was not a “cultural value.” Today, the demands of the economy have escalated radically, but commitment to academic achievement has not kept pace.
The timeline and effort for increasing educational value is detailed in "Fulfilling the Promise."
The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce assembled the “Task Force on College Degree Attainment,” charged to examine the connection between economic development and educational achievement. At that time, 19.2% of adults 25 and older held bachelor’s degree, with the State average at 22.7%, and the nation at 27%. Regions with dynamic economies boasted rates above 40%. Spartanburg County was not in the game.
Leading the list of Task Force recommendations was “The 40/30 Challenge” … doubling the number of adult bachelor’s degree holders in a generation, to 40% by 2030.
The Spartanburg County Foundation established and funded “The College Hub,” a non-profit charged to address this single benchmark by encouraging increasing numbers of young people to go to college and adults to return to complete degrees.
Two developments motivated a turn-around in the efforts of The College Hub.
First was the College Hub’s merger with another non-profit, the Children’s Services Alliance. The Alliance, also launched in 2008, served as a network engaging pre-K providers and agencies, and developed the important Toolkit for Kindergarten Readiness.
The combined boards recognized that each had been working at extreme ends of the same education continuum. They also recognized that advancing academic achievement across the entire spectrum was required if “The 40/30 Challenge” was to be realized.
A second development was the discovery of the "StriveTogether Network." This collective-impact model for community-wide change was developed and launched across the school districts of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
With this discovery, everything changed for the College Hub: the challenge, the model, the goals, the strategies, the metrics, the objectives, the funding, the staffing…even the name.
No longer just “college” or “kindergarten readiness.” No longer isolated points on the continuum. We were no longer a 'hub', but a movement.
We became The Spartanburg Academic Movement, adopting a new brand and messaging strategy that better aligned with our new efforts.