South Carolina First Steps was established as both an agency of state government and an affiliate network of nonprofit organizations for the purpose of leveraging both public and private resources in support of services that prepare children to start school ready to reach their highest potential.

As the only funder of early childhood programs in every county of the state, South Carolina First Steps both administers grants of state funding on behalf of the General Assembly and actively seeks additional public and private resources to make discretionary and targeted grants in support of services to children birth through five.

Expand First Steps 4K in Your Community!

South Carolina First Steps 4K is inviting local organizations to apply for funding to expand access to full-day, evidence-based preschool for low income four-year-olds in their communities.

Applicants may apply for up to $30,000 for the purpose of expanding access to First Steps 4K services to at least 10 additional children. This grant opportunity is open to sites in the current 62 eligible CERDEP school districts (named on application).

Any organization within the 62 eligible school districts that has the facility space, ability to become a licensed child care provider, and willingness to adhere to First Steps 4K Guidelines, https://scfirststeps.org/get-involved/become-a-first-steps-4k-provider/, is eligible to apply. Eligible applicants include center-based child care providers as well as churches, community centers, non-profit organizations, private and charter schools, colleges and universities, hospital systems, and others. Public schools and school districts are not eligible. These one-time funds are intended to support applicants in overcoming obstacles currently preventing their participation in the 4K program. Such needs may include, but are not limited to, building renovations documented as necessary to bring proposed classrooms into compliance with licensing regulations and materials/equipment. All new First Steps 4K classrooms receive an additional $10,000 for the purchase of classroom furniture and materials.

Providers receiving this one-time supplement are expected to be or become licensed, participate in the First Steps 4K program, and provide high-quality, center-based programs to at least 10 4K children annually for a minimum of three years.

*Organizations within counties and school districts where there are little or no current First Steps 4K providers are encouraged to apply: Abbeville, Bamberg,  Calhoun, Clarendon, Colleton, Dorchester 4, Edgefield, Fairfield, Hampton 2, Marlboro, McCormick, and Saluda.

South Carolina First Steps 4K  anticipates making a minimum of 3 awards before June 30, 2021. Applications are due by Monday, May 3, 2021 at 11:59 pm.

Apply here: https://www.cognitoforms.com/SCFIRSTSTEPS4K/Expanding4KInUnderservedCommunitiesProviderGrantApplication

Countdown to Kindergarten Program Expansion Grant

Local First Steps Partnerships are eligible to request additional funding to expand the Countdown to Kindergarten program within their local school districts.

Countdown to Kindergarten (CTK) is a home visitation and family engagement program pairing the families of rising kindergartners at risk for school challenges with their future teachers during the summer before school entry. Teachers complete six visits with each family, centered on classroom and content expectations.

Funding is available for serving risking kindergartners in Summer 2021, including special funding for serving students with disabilities and dual language learners.

To apply, local partnerships must complete and submit the Summer 2021 Countdown to Kindergarten Budget Planning Worksheet to jartz@scfirststeps.org no later than April 15, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

Child Care Technical Assistance Program Expansion Grant

Eligibility: Local First Steps Partnership Organizations

With Preschool Development Grant funding, South Carolina First Steps intends to award up to 3 competitive grants to local First Steps partnerships to establish or expand a child care technical assistance strategy. The purpose of this funding is to assist local partnerships with increasing the number of child care providers receiving intensive, targeted coaching and support to improve their quality. A total of $225,000 is available to award in FY22, with a maximum award amount of $100,000. Year 2 (FY23) funding is anticipated to be available. Competitive priority will be given to multi-county collaborations, provider commitment to enroll in ABC Quality, and services to home-based providers.

Deadline: May 10, 2021

Focus area: Child Care Quality

How to apply: Complete the application.

Informational Webinar: Tuesday, March 23 at 10 a.m.

FY22 Targeted Grant Application

Eligibility: Local First Steps Partnership Organizations

South Carolina First Steps is pleased to offer several opportunities for local First Steps partnerships to receive targeted funding for programs and services, as a result of Preschool Development Grant funding to South Carolina First Steps to expand such services to underserved populations in South Carolina. Funding is available to:

  1. Continue or establish a local AmeriCorps site to offer evidence-based parenting services through the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program, and engage parents and community members in support of school readiness;
  2. Support materials funding and workforce incentives for improving child care quality;
  3. Solicit parent and community input on issues important to serving children 0-5;
  4. Support evidence-based parenting programs; and
  5. Pilot services to family child care and family-friend-neighbor care using the Parents as Teachers curriculum

Deadline: May 10, 2021

Focus area: AmeriCorps, Child Care Quality, Core Functions, Countdown to Kindergarten, Parenting

How to apply: Complete the application.

Informational Webinar (AmeriCorps): Tuesday, March 30 at 11 a.m.
Informational Webinar (Parenting): Thursday, April 8 at 1 p.m.
Informational Webinar (Child Care): Wednesday, March 31 at 3 p.m.

Local First Steps Partnership Formula Grant

Eligibility: Local First Steps Partnership Organizations

Per South Carolina law, the South Carolina First Steps Board of Trustees awards grants of state funding to local First Steps partnership organizations in order to fill gaps in services for children 0-5 in their county, as determined by the partnership’s needs and resources assessment and long-range comprehensive plan.

Deadline: May 3, 2021

Focus area: Programs, Core Functions, Partnership Operations

How to apply: Review and complete the materials provided below.

READ FIRST: Guide to Opening, Editing, and Saving Application Forms

Grant Application Tutorial

FY22 Formula Funding Grant Application

Appendix A: Resource Development Plan (Excel)

Appendix B: Proposed Program Strategies

Appendix C: Community Education and Outreach Plan (Excel)

Appendix D: Fiscal Signatories Form

Appendix E: Certification Form

Appendix F: Board Membership and Attendance (Excel)

Appendix G: Instructions for Checking Program Minimum Qualifications

Appendix H: Additional Program Outcome Summary (Excel)

Appendix I: Grant Qualifications

Early Childhood Innovation (ECI) Grant

Eligibility: Local First Steps Partnership Organizations

The South Carolina First Steps Board of Trustees intends to award competitive grants to local First Steps partnerships that incentivize and support measurable outcomes, leverage resources, and build capacity for improving program access and quality. ECI Grant funds may be used for a variety of purposes that support the partnership’s Comprehensive Plan, including but not limited to program expansion, new programs or initiatives, core functions, or capacity building activities.

Up to $250,000 will be awarded under the 2021 ECI Grant competition. Local partnerships may apply singularly, or as part of a multi-county application. The minimum grant award amount is $5,000.00. Partnerships may propose to spend ECI Grant funding over a period of one year (FY22), or two years (FY22 and FY23).

Deadline: July 9, 2021

Focus area: Programs, Core Functions, Capacity Building

How to apply: View application instructions and cover page form

Informational Webinar: Tuesday, March 23 at 10 a.m.

To learn more about First Steps grantmaking and grant seeking, contact Betty Gardiner, Director of Grantmaking and Development.