At a time when arts organizations and other non-profits continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19, the nonprofits of Transylvania County repeatedly show their creativity and their determination to help inspire and encourage students, according to a news release. The Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County (UUTC) continues its efforts to support that goal through UUTC’s Community Outreach Endowment Fund’s awards for 2021-2022.

This year’s recipients include El Centro, the African-American Storyline Project, and Student Visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). El Centro will use a portion of their award for programming for middle and high schoolers. They will add a projector and DVD player to their media materials and expand their chapter book and workbook supplies.

El Centro’s Executive Director Sellers Shook said that the development of their website and its newsletter will offer information to county residents about what the program is providing and achieving — an important tool for increasing support for this vital member of the non-profit community.

A former Transylvania County school counselor, Sheila Mooney has long hoped for the capacity to take African-American students on campus visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“Campus visits to these HBCUs impact greatly on African-American students, but even travel to a few schools becomes expensive and time-consuming for families in the best of times,” she said. “This grant to the NAACP for these student trips will open doors and inspire students.”

Both Mooney and long-time Rise & Shine supporter Rebecca Wynn hope to expand the program to include middle school students to inspire them early on in their academic experiences.

A final award was given by the Community Outreach Endowment Fund of UUTC to Nicola Karesh for her two part proposal: “Faces of Freedom – 2022,” a performance art event, and “Bringing History and Community to Life,” a collaboration with youth and adult community members to record and share area Black History. Both parts of the program involve a mentoring dimension for African-American youth that Karesh hopes will continue long after the current projects end.

According to Joanna Bliss, of the COEF Committee, “We are eager to support these efforts to broaden the world for students of color throughout the County. At a time when COVID makes it even more difficult to expand that world, programs like these are especially important. UUTC is grateful to these creative leaders for their outstanding projects.”

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