Founded in 1985, the Governor’s School for the Arts Foundation is set up to benefit the students across the state of South Carolina that attend the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in the city of Greenville. This fine arts school offers specialized curriculum for music, dance, theater, creative writing, and art. It is one of a few of its kind in the country and the only one in existence in the state of South Carolina.
The School: The Community Being Served
This public school is unique because it goes beyond the standard “core class” curriculum for a chance to better enrich students’ lives. The school works with approximately 250 students and a very cultivated faculty and staff. The smaller number approach ensures that the students get the focused and catered attention they need to thrive.
“These students are already exceptional,” said Rowe Copeland, the organization’s Administration, and Financial Coordinator. “In order to grow academically and in art they need a focused community. They spend a good amount of time working in their specific creative field. The only way it works is if we keep our numbers to where they have the one-on-one time with the students that they need.”
The intimate environment between the students and teachers allows each student to broaden their horizons. The students come from all over the state; from different cultural experiences, different family lives, different perspectives. Most of them are united in their experience of being “the odd man (kid) out”. Perhaps they weren’t the football captain or the head cheerleader, but the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities gives these students the chance to feel welcome and be a star. They are provided with a home where they can explore their artistic passions among peers with similar interests. Essentially, the “odd kids out” are accepted in a space where they belong.
The Nonprofit: How it Serves the Students
Although the organization’s name is derived from the school, they are not affiliated or operating under the school itself. Instead, the organization’s purpose is to raise revenue to ensure the broadest and most rich experience while the students are there. They want to make sure that the most talented students that can attend the school do attend the school. Money is raised through social events that allow the organization to grow the students by funding and investing in their future successes. This means paying for workshops to further cultivate their talents and providing transportation to national auditions, just to name a few of the ways they help.
The investment is certainly paying off. The Governor’s School for the Arts is the only school in the country to have at least one student accepted to Julliard for eight of the last ten years. They currently have alums in the Central Illinois Ballet, the Ballet Met, the Charlotte Ballet, the Richmond Ballet, and many more. Some students have gone on to win Tony Awards and attend various fine arts colleges. One of the their alums is Danielle Brooks, known for playing Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on the popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black.
But the foundation’s impact goes further than producing successful artists. Not every student from the school chooses an artist’s life. Some of the graduates go on to become surgeons or attorneys. One Young Alum Award Winner now works for Google developing and designing applications. A creative writing student now works in China in arts development to help struggling communities mirror the success from the Governor’s school. These past graduates continue to love and hopefully support their local arts communities throughout their lives. In this way, the school is producing culturally and globally aware citizens that are fully rounded.
“It’s only about the students,” said Rowe. “It’s not about growing the school. It’s about helping the kids, doing the best by them. These kids are the voice of the next generation, and hopefully their voices get louder and clearer because of their time at the school.”
Rowe has a young goddaughter that was recently in a community musical production. Even though the little girl only had a small part, Rowe could not stop herself from tearing up at seeing her shine. If Rowe has anything to say about it, her goddaughter will be groomed to join these impressive students for a shot at a future that is brighter than any spotlight they encounter on stage.
For more information about the Governor’s School for the Arts Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.gsafoundation.net.
*Gregg S. Bossen has spent most of his career traveling around the country working with nonprofits. From his early days auditing organizations to teaching seminars and presenting at national conferences, his career has been spent surrounded by the successes and inspirations of countless non-profits. His work helping these organizations is what led him to start his Nonprofit of the Month initiative.
Through Gregg’s company, QuickBooks Made Easy, the Nonprofit of the Month initiative seeks to highlight the work that is being done across the country by exceptional non-profit organizations. Starting in July, QuickBooks Made Easy will choose one nonprofit to highlight for their exemplary work in their community. Winners are chosen from nonprofits that attend live QuickBooks Made Easy seminars after they submit a review and opt to enter the contest. QuickBooks Made Easy looks for nonprofits that have made specific and measurable impact in their communities.