New endowment gives county rare opportunity

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New endowment gives county rare opportunity

The money targets students who learn differently.
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013   |  400 Words  |  

The main thing children with learning differences, such as dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder, need is a level playing field.

Contrary to popular opinion, learning challenges are not always a reflection of intelligence, and they should not be seen as an indicator of failure in life.

But many children -- roughly 13 percent nationally -- have differences that mean they need to be better understood and taught in a different way. Only when that happens will they have the level playing field they deserve.

Beaufort County has a new opportunity to see that more students get the attention they need, and the community should take full advantage of it.

A new endowment of some $400,000 was announced last week. It is to award grants to help students with special needs throughout Beaufort County.

The fund is to be administered by the Coastal Community Foundation, which oversees $150 million in assets, with headquarters in Charleston and a regional office in Beaufort. The fund comes from a portion of the money raised in a campaign that resulted in the Learning Center at Beaufort Academy. The center opened five years ago to intervene for students with special needs, with services including tutoring, specialized instruction, consultation with families, community referrals and teacher training.

The Learning Center will continue those services and seek to expand, said Beaufort Academy board chairman Charles Tumlin. It will continue to offer services to students outside the academy. And, he said, it will apply for grants from the endowment. He stresses that the endowment does not involve tuition or operations money for the private, college-preparatory school on Lady's Island.

The endowment is a corporate donor-advised fund, said Edna Crews, regional vice president for Coastal Community Foundation. The board of an entity called the Learning Center of Beaufort Inc. will make recommendations on grants to the foundation board.

The money was always to have a reach beyond the academy.

This significant sum can be a boost to nonprofit groups countywide that touch students with special needs.

It can mean more teachers are trained countywide to recognize problems that might not have been diagnosed.

No learning difference should result in failure in school. No creative approach should be buried. The new endowment should help level the playing field for more students countywide.