Decoding Jargon: 6 essential Wholespire terms to know

Decoding Jargon: 6 essential Wholespire terms to know

Have you ever left a meeting thinking, ‘I have no idea what they said’? Maybe you started working on your grant final report and don’t understand what’s being asked. That’s probably because of jargon—language used by people within a particular profession, culture, or social group.

When we work in complex fields, we revert to jargon because that’s what we know. We’ve trained our brains to use words associated with our work. At Wholespire, we understand that the people we are in contact with come from different backgrounds. We are continuously attempting to change the language we use. We want to explain some of them because, in addition to jargon, some of our words mean something different in other environments.

1. Technical Assistance

When the average person hears this word, they might think computer help, but that’s far from what we mean. Technical assistance (TA) is a non-financial form of help like connecting coalitions to funding sources, sharing information, providing training, consulting on projects and leadership coaching. Read more about technical assistance on our blog.

2. Community

We use this word in its traditional sense. A community is a group of people with a shared geographic location. It also means a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. When Wholespire talks about community, we often mean the town, city or county as a whole, but there are times when we are addressing other types of communities, like:

  • Schools,
  • Religious centers,
  • People with disabilities,
  • Early child care centers, and
  • Worksites.

3. Community Engagement, Youth Engagement

Community and youth engagement means involving community members and youth in the decision-making, planning, and evaluation of projects. It’s getting their input, perspectives and active participation to make sure that projects and policies are relevant, effective, and have long-term solutions. It often leads to an increased sense of community, empowerment, and inclusion.

4. Sustainable, Sustainability

When we provide technical assistance or open a grant application, we often ask if the project or idea is sustainable. We ask this because we want to invest in policy, systems and environmental change projects that are continual over a long time. It’s important to think about how the completed project will be maintained and who will be responsible for keeping it in safe, working order. Here are three examples of sustainability:

  • For a community garden, sustainability means creating a plan for who will pull weeds, harvest vegetables and prepare the beds for the next season.
  • For a park, sustainability could be what organization is responsible for keeping the grass mowed and the equipment safe to use.
  • For a trail, sustainability includes a plan for keeping the trail cleared of brush, fallen limbs and litter.

5. Leverage, Leveraging

Here’s another jargony word that can leave you guessing: leverage. In finance, it means something completely different. At Wholespire, leverage means using something you already have to achieve something new or better. On our grant final report, we ask, “How did you leverage this grant?” We want to know how you were able to make the project happen after you received funds from Wholespire.

We also ask this question to find out if the mini-grant had an impact that was above and beyond the initial project. Did a recipient of a grant, for instance, use donations to expand from one garden to three? Alternatively, it’s possible that the city noticed a park improvement and offered to update another park. There are many ways you can leverage your project:

  • In-kind donations are contributions of goods or services, other than money. This can be volunteers, employers lending employees on the clock, heavy equipment use, or dirt. Yes, dirt!  
  • Funding from other sources is a great way to supplement your budget. Apply for other grants, conduct a fundraiser, ask for donations or host a silent auction.
  • Leverage your existing partnerships. Leaning on partners is a great way to share information, learn from each other and accomplish goals together. Plus, partnerships can lead to additional funding opportunities.
  • Social media marketing can help raise awareness about your project, get the community involved, and collect donations. Social media also contributes to community or youth engagement because you’re reaching parts of the population that you may not have touched in newsletters and other forms of communication.

6. Implement, Implementation

Implementation is more than just completing the physical work of making your project happen. It’s the process of turning your project plan into a reality by following the action plan and making sure it’s successfully completed. Key components of implementation include:

  • Making sure the funding, personnel, equipment and materials are available,
  • Coordinating and organizing volunteers,
  • Monitoring and tracking progress,
  • Making adjustments to keep the project on schedule,
  • Communicating progress and challenges with the funder and partners,
  • Reviewing the process to identify lessons learned for future projects , and
  • Promoting the completed project to the community.

Leveraging the community for 20 tons of dirt

In 2021, Wholespire funded GoForth Recovery in Spartanburg for a basketball court project. Initially, the plan called for clearing enough land for the basketball court, but the vision soon grew to clear an entire lot to make room for future additions. The mini-grant only funded about half of the total project cost, so the executive director needed to secure full funding. News of the project reached various community members, businesses, partners, and associates. As the challenge was being faced, the old courthouse in Spartanburg was being demolished. Upon hearing about the need, officials donated the extra dirt. Project organizers estimated that 30 truckloads were delivered at no cost to them.

Partner Spotlight: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation

Partner Spotlight: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation

The Wholespire Partner Spotlight Series shines a light on the remarkable collaborations and impactful initiatives of our valued partners. In this series, we highlight the incredible work being done by organizations and individuals who share our vision and commitment to ensure an equitable South Carolina, where everyone has access to healthy choices.

We recently caught up with Erika Kirby, executive director of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. The Foundation has been a long-standing partner of Wholespire. Their partnership has enabled hundreds of communities to increase opportunities for healthy food choices and physical activity across the state.

The BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation logo

What is the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation?

The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation (Foundation), an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, was established in early 2000 with a vision to bridge health and health care in South Carolina. Its mission and commitment remain steadfast to identifying and supporting solutions to address gaps in care and serving as a change agent to support innovation and value-added public-private partnerships.

The Foundation is South Carolina’s only statewide state-based philanthropic organization focused exclusively on improving health. Since its first grant was awarded in 2003, the Foundation has supported projects and efforts in all 46 counties.

The Foundation supports organizations and communities across South Carolina. Aside from grant support, how does the Foundation achieve its mission?

The Foundation is committed to creating value beyond traditional grantmaking. As a statewide health funder, the Foundation uses both its financial and non-financial assets to maximize its impact and create value for those we serve. Examples of how the Foundation’s service to South Carolina extends beyond traditional grantmaking and financial support: 

  • We use our reputation to convene partners on key health issues.
  • We work with partners to minimize duplication and aim to increase coordination of organizations working to improve health, as well as to promote learning across communities and organizations.
  • Given our statewide footprint, we interact with a wide array of organizations and are aware of many health-related efforts occurring across South Carolina.  With this information, we frequently make connections across stakeholders and across communities. 

An example would be convening support for the South Carolina Social Determinants of Health Roadmap and engagement with the health-focused partners and members of the Alliance for Healthier South Carolina.  While not directly health-focused, the Foundation is also a member and involved in SC’s state association of nonprofit organizations and the state grantmakers network to stay abreast of issues and opportunities for South Carolina.  

One of your approaches is “Working Downstream and Upstream.” How does this approach impact health outcomes in SC?

The Foundation recognizes that South Carolina faces many complex health issues and has a unique position, given our statewide reach, to influence and lead the direction of initiatives to make an impact. Accordingly, the Foundation sees its role beyond a grantmaker to a change maker. Our values below convey our commitment to a diverse array of projects and approaches.

  • We support a continuum of approaches ranging from providing direct care for the economically vulnerable to advancing practice and policy, systems and environmental changes.
  • We prioritize efforts that will improve the health of future generations of South Carolinians.
  • We empower organizations to increase effectiveness towards improved health outcomes.
  • We support efforts that represent community and statewide priorities that are locally determined, culturally relevant and data-informed solutions.
  • We equip our partners to connect learning to action and use data for continuous improvement.
  • We are a catalytic partner, supporting organizations and programs as they gain sustainability by leveraging funds and we value innovative projects that can expand to multiple geographic areas in South Carolina.

The Foundation has the ability as a corporate philanthropic statewide health foundation to help discover, introduce, and advance new, different, or more effective ways to improve health and well-being and to improve the quality of health delivered to improve individual health outcomes. 

As a statewide organization, we balance scaling solutions statewide to supporting strategies that can most effectively address local health needs. The Foundation seeks to listen to community needs, analyze, and evaluate data, and understand local community assets and challenges. We are also respected for our approach to develop relationships that foster honest dialogue. We listen, suggest, and in many instances, co-create mutually beneficial solutions.

This commitment to serving South Carolina is communicated to key stakeholders across the state and positions the Foundation as both a source of information, accelerating action, and working to find innovative solutions to best serve South Carolina.

What are the priorities of the Foundation for the next 3-5 years?

Most recently, we have intentionally woven together and overlayed our funding pillars of access to care, workforce, improving the quality of services, and investing in the health and well-being of South Carolina children and families with an additional emphasis in three health priorities of diabetes, oral health, and mental health.

The Foundation amplifies different areas of focus annually, mostly within these noted priorities. However, we are always keeping an eye out for innovative approaches not yet tried so we balance defined priorities to needs and opportunities as we hear from partners.

Over the years, the Foundation has supported Wholespire and its work. What do you think has made Wholespire a good partner?

The Foundation views its grantees as partners, leveraging their capacity to improve health across South Carolina. We invest in strong relationships with key organizations and design initiatives that build a network of trusted partners with which we can listen, learn, ask, and receive candid ‘on the ground’ check-ins – all towards advancing action and impact.

Would you like to share any other important details about the Foundation?

We recently held our inaugural regional grantee appreciation events. These events were created to recognize the contributions of each and the potential of all. Health is local and we wanted to give grantees the chance to strengthen relationships with each other. We see the possibility and power that the cross-pollination of ideas between grantees will lead to even more positive change in the communities they serve.

Take a look at the Foundation’s website for impact stories and highlights as well as the Foundation’s new team members. 

BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation grantees in the Upstate
Upstate Grantees
BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation grantees in the Pee Dee
Pee Dee Grantees
The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation funds initiatives around the state.
BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation grantees in the Midlands
Midlands Grantees
BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina grantees in the Lowcountry
Lowcountry Grantees
Getting to know Jamaius White

Getting to know Jamaius White

Jamaius White recently joined the Wholespire staff to oversee The HYPE Project. He will play a major role in the success of the youth engagement program. Let’s get to know Jamaius.

Jamaius White is the manager of The HYPE Project.

Q: What’s your favorite healthy snack?
A: I could eat watermelon every single day!!!

Q: What’s your favorite way to stay active?
A: Lift Heavy Weights!!!

Q: Can you start by telling us a little bit about your educational background and interests?
A: My education is a product of my interest in music and physical activity. In high school, I studied music under the guidance of Mr. Willie E. Lyles at WJ Keenan High School in Columbia. You can find many of his lessons in my actions to this very day. One of the things he would tell us that has stuck with me is ‘Character is who you are when no one is watching.’ Being a percussionist for his music program yielded a great benefit to my development as a health educator. He made sure his students understood the history behind the music being played. That helped us make a connection to the music. That holds true in my work and personal life. We must understand the history behind the things we do in order to have an impact. My tenure in the Health Education Department at SC State University was a humbling, yet, encouraging experience. My vision for physical education matured immensely. 

Q: What attracted you to the position?
A: I was attracted to the position because it gives me the opportunity to work in the health education field but through a different lens. Prior to Wholespire, I worked more from a boots-on-the-ground perspective and now I’m working at an administrative level. One of my true passions is to be an influencer of youth. I believe I can improve the relationship between youth and healthier decision making. The Program Manager position for The HYPE Project allows me to do that. Wholespire is the vehicle that will drive me towards that ultimate goal of getting South Carolina fit.

Q: How would you summarize what you have done so far?  
A: Right now, I’m in the process of fine-tuning the curriculum and all of the tools and processes related to implementing The HYPE Project. I’m getting ready for the next advisors’ training and onboarding the next HYPE teams. Also, I’m preparing to be a presenter at the SCAPHERD conference in November. So, I guess you can say that I’m getting my feet wet. 

Q: What are you looking forward to most with your job?
A: I look forward to developing a system that is sustainable for growth for every organization that creates a HYPE team in their community. My goal is to literally increase advocacy, civic engagement, physical activity and a sense of belonging for youth. I’m looking forward to getting out in our communities and finding out how I can help make that happen through The HYPE Project.

What do you enjoy most about working here? 
A: Outside of the immeasurable support from staff, I enjoy the immediate inclusion of my thoughts and ideas. The hybrid workspace is ideal for me too. I’m able to create a work schedule that allows me to go to the gym. I don’t have to worry about missing those critical moments in my kids’ lives. I can work virtually from anywhere.  

Q: How do you live out the Wholespire mission?
A: I am all about sustainability in every sector of my life. Coming from a health coach background, I preach creating habits that are sustainable for healthy lifestyles. I own a personal training business and I know the importance of making healthy changes that will last a lifetime. I always tell my clients to choose habits that they can do from now until the end of time. 

Q: What’s one thing people don’t know about you that they would be surprised to find out?
A: I did not participate in organized sports in college. People look at me and ask if I play football all the time, lol. I always laugh and reply “My brother did, I played drums.” I played drums for the Marching 101 Band at SC State University.

Learn more about Jamaius on our website.

Legislative wins set the stage for increased access to nutritious food for all South Carolinians 

Legislative wins set the stage for increased access to nutritious food for all South Carolinians 

Five SC Legislative Wins

Wholespire asked for your help, and you delivered! Now that the legislative session is over, we have reason to celebrate wins addressing healthy eating and active living for all South Carolinians. From the state budget, signed by Governor McMaster, to legislative wins addressing free school meals, Wholespire and all of you worked overtime to make sure our decision-makers heard from all of us. You can further support our efforts at the State House by making a donation to our cause.

“We anticipated universal school meals and the USDA community eligibility program (CEP) would be a hot topic this session,” said Executive Director Meg Stanley. “We also knew we’d partner with the SC Department of Social Services to support their budget requests for the extension of the Healthy Bucks program and a SNAP system overhaul.”

Wholespire aims to increase access to nutritious foods. Knowing the USDA ended the emergency universal free school meals program with the 2022-23 school year, Senator Katrina Shealy, our legislative champion of the year, focused her efforts on the universal free school meals bill and Proviso 1.68, which ended school lunch shaming and closed the gap in providing free school meals.

“We understood that before COVID-19, many parents struggled to pay for their child’s school meals,” said Stanley. “Because the USDA enacted the emergency free school meals program, parents didn’t have to worry about school meal debt, and students weren’t ostracized and food shamed for their parents’ inability to pay. That and our mission alone are why we support Senator Shealy’s bill.”

Senator Shealy pre-filed S.148, calling for all public school children to receive two meals daily while at school. Wholespire staff jumped on the opportunity to advocate for a bill addressing an issue many other states were also considering. Some advocacy efforts included testifying at the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, talking to the media, urging grassroots advocates to speak to their SC Senator, implementing a social media campaign, and hosting a press conference.

“While S.148 did not pass, the state budget included a proviso that bans meal shaming at schools and closes the gap to provide two meals a day for public school children starting in the 2023-24 school year,” said Stanley. “We still have one year left in this two-year session, and with the momentum we’ve helped build, we are hopeful the bill will pass next year.”

Another big push for Wholespire and its grassroots advocates was the Healthy Bucks Proviso. The SC Department of Social Services (DSS) requested a budget appropriation of $5 million to extend the Healthy Bucks program and $8.7 million to update the outdated computer system used to process SNAP applications, purchases and reimbursements. The two budget requests would help sustain and improve two programs that address the food insecurity of low-income families and senior citizens and would also impact local farmers who sell fresh produce at farmers markets that accept SNAP and participate in the Healthy Bucks program.

Healthy Bucks is an incentive of the SNAP program designed to help low-income families and senior citizens get more affordable and nutritious food at the farmers market. When a family spends $5 on fruit and vegetables, they get $15 in tokens for their next visit.

“Many families rely on their local farmers markets for fresh produce because they may live in a food desert without a grocery store or can’t afford gas to make the 30-mile roundtrip. That’s a reality for one too many families and senior citizens,” said Stanley. “Those are scenarios that lead to poor health choices, poor health outcomes and poor quality of life.”

Wholespire has supported the Healthy Bucks program since its pilot in 2014 by the USC Arnold School of Public Health. During this legislative session, efforts to support Healthy Bucks and SNAP, in addition to grassroots advocates contacting their state legislators, led to the legislature including both DSS requests in the state budget.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Katrina Shealy, DSS and the Budget Conferees for addressing healthy food access in South Carolina,” said Stanley, “not to mention all of our grassroots advocates for supporting these legislative efforts.”

With Governor McMaster’s approval of the budget, Wholespire will continue strategizing and preparing for the 2024 legislative session and keep the momentum building for S.148 and other priorities as they unfold.

Why are free school meals necessary?

Why are free school meals necessary?

Click here and take action now!

There’s a bill in the South Carolina Senate that, if passed, would give all SC public school students free meals every day. Sponsored by Senator Katrina Shealy (R-District 23), Senator Stephen Goldfinch (R-District 34), Senator Mia McLeod (D-District 22) and Senator Marion Kimpson (D-District 42), S.148 seeks to ensure all students get free breakfast and lunch by providing guidelines for eligible schools to participate in the USDA Community Eligibility Program (CEP). It also establishes a state-level reimbursement program for those schools that are not eligible for CEP and extends the lunch period to 30 minutes.

“This bill addresses multiple issues that schools, students, and parents are facing these days,” says Meg Stanley, executive director of Wholespire. “I’m talking about school budgets, administrative workload, hunger, poor grades and behavior, school lunch debt, food shaming, social pressures and added financial stress for parents.”

Yes, hunger is a real problem in South Carolina. According to the Map the Meal Gap study by Feeding America:

  • 1 in 7 children are facing hunger
  • 74% of children are income eligible for federal nutrition programs (at or below 185% of poverty)

For the last two years, parents didn’t have to worry about paying for school meals and school administrators didn’t have to worry about tracking and collecting lunch money. During COVID-19, the USDA enacted national waivers that allowed many schools to provide free meals and get reimbursed by the federal government. Now that the waivers have ended, schools are now returning to collecting breakfast and lunch money, parents are having to decide how to pay for and prepare lunches and students with debt are being served a crusty sandwich instead of a balanced hot meal and getting picked on by their peers.

Explore county-level data on food insecurity and hunger.

“For too many students, eating breakfast and lunch at school is the only time in their day that they get a nutritious meal,” says Stanley. “If we want to improve the quality of education in South Carolina and make it equitable, we have to start somewhere and that’s with the bellies of our students.”

Breakfast and lunch are important to every student’s health and classroom performance. Nutritious meals provide energy that fuels the brain and helps with attention span, which influences test scores and grade-level advancement. When a child is hungry, it’s difficult to pay attention to anything else.

In 2022, Wholespire published a blog called Everything you need to know about the Community Eligibility Program. It makes the case for eligible schools to apply for CEP. The same benefits of CEP can be applied to S.148. If passed, here’s how schools, families and students will benefit from receiving free meals at schools:

Benefits for Schools

  • Eliminates unpaid school debt. Every student gets free breakfast and lunch. Families don’t pay and administrators don’t have to worry about collecting money and managing accounts.
  • Reduces administrative burdens.
  • Improves school nutrition staff morale. Staff focuses more on nutritious meals and less on the nutrition budget.
  • Can generate revenue for school nutrition budgets. Oftentimes, CEP leads to an increase in breakfast and lunch participation, which increases revenue for the nutrition budget.
  • Can make it easier to serve meals in the classroom. Teachers only need to count the number of meals being served to students in their classroom rather than tracking free, reduced, and paid meals.

Benefits for Families and Students

  • Improves student attendance and advancement. A study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition found significant benefits for students attending CEP schools, including higher attendance rates and more students advancing beyond 10th grade.
  • Fights hunger. The same study mentioned in the previous bullet also found students attending schools with CEP were nearly 3 times less likely to be food insecure.
  • Promotes equity and reduces stigma. CEP eliminates the out-of-pocket costs for families and reduces the stigma or embarrassment some students may feel by participating in the meals program. CEP also eliminates school lunch shaming, as no student can be turned away or given an alternative meal from failure to pay.
  • Reduces stress for families and students. Families with tight food budgets can rest assured that their child gets nutritious meals at school, reducing financial strain at home. Students don’t have to worry about paying for meals either.

Advocating for health in all policies is a priority for Wholespire, whose mission is to provide communities with proven and sustainable approaches that lead to increased access to healthy choices for ALL people. If you want to advocate for S.148, we encourage you to become a Wholespire advocate.