Project Identifies Key Issues in Cherokee County


The Cherokee County Community Indicators Project identified key issues for Cherokee County's well-being, including education, public health, family and youth, crime and safety, and economic development.

A South Carolina-based regional affiliate of Foundation For The Carolinas, the Cherokee County Community Foundation (CCCF), supported an important piece of work in 2009. In partnership with other area organizations, CCCF initiated the Cherokee County Community Indicators Project, a study of the most pressing needs in the community. The study is already creating a dramatic impact on grantmaking and ultimately, the overall health and welfare of the community.

The 18-month project began when Oscar Fuller, a consultant working with the Cherokee County Community Foundation, became familiar with the community indicators project then being undertaken by the United Way of the Piedmont in Spartanburg and Union counties. He quickly realized that a similar study could have an immense impact in Cherokee County. If the Community Foundation were to achieve its goal of creating more impact from its giving, Fuller knew, this kind of work needed to be done in Cherokee County.

Importantly, the group resolved to produce the work themselves. With the leadership of Barry Morgan, a Cherokee County Community Foundation board member, the partnership of the Upstate Workforce Investment Board, the United Way of the Piedmont, an advisory board of 30 community leaders, and support from many other volunteers and donors, the project identified the key issues for Cherokee County. The primary indicators of the community’s wellbeing fell into five categories: education, public health, family and youth, crime and safety, and economic development.

“It’s a tremendous achievement for the community foundation and its partners, and a real boon to the people of Cherokee County,” said Lane Cook, vice president for development at Foundation For The Carolinas. “Having such a document at hand means not only that the community can address the issues and track progress over time, but also that they have a shared understanding of the key issues they are addressing together.”

The Cherokee County Community Foundation provided funding, expertise and volunteer leadership to make the project a success. Thanks to the study, grantmakers and government decision makers will have a shared understanding of the most prevalent needs in their community and will use the results on an ongoing basis to guide their funding decisions.