Board Chairman, Ned McNair, Moves to the Lowcountry
When Ned moved to the Lowcountry, he was shocked by the poverty he witnessed. Poverty is directly in the shadow of wealth and beauty. He would go on to spend the next 20 years, his entire working life, thinking about how he could help end the cycle of poverty in his community.
Ned and Carl Meet
Real Champions, Inc. was created by Dr. Carl Martin and Ned McNair to fulfill a desire both men have been harboring for years: ending poverty. Carl is from the small South Carolina town of Elloree in the coastal plain and Ned has lived in the South Carolina Lowcountry for the past 48 years. The poverty and inequity displayed throughout the South Carolina Coastal Plain have tugged at their heartstrings for decades and they knew they had to act.
Uncovering the Truth About Poverty
As Carl and Ned researched poverty in the United States they were shocked to learn a few things:
The Launch of RCI
Carl and Ned began to share their plans with friends and raised enough money to formally launch RCI. On February 1, 2017, after a generous gift by a Hilton Head family, the Board of Directors was established and Carl became the full-time Executive and Development Director. RCI immediately began formalizing its model and completing all the other documents required to establish an ongoing organization.
A New Program Director and a Refined Program Model
In 2019, Ricardo Perry was added to the team as the new Program Director. He immediately began working with Sam Bellamy, Lead Strategist and SC Mentor, on the program and logic model, and Dr. Samuel McQuillian, at the University of South Carolina, on evaluation and metrics. The new model is a research-driven initiative where paid, professional, full-time mentors are partnered with South Carolina’s most vulnerable children. These mentors start earlier, in kindergarten or first grade. Go deeper, focusing on all areas of growth a child needs to succeed. And, stay longer, remaining with a child throughout high school graduation.
A Cohort of Hope
In 2020, an Associate Director of Development and the first cohort of Advocate Mentors were hired at RCI. This cohort now works with some of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children, with more children on a waitlist. Each mentor that works at RCI will work with 8 children for 32 hours a week. During their time together, they participate in a wide range of activities from playing games to working on homework or completing an art project, but they are always being guided toward the hard and soft skills they will need to succeed. The additional eight hours of the week is spent on date reporting for the week and creating individualized success plans for each child.
Working with Kids and Expanding Our Horizons
We are in the process of raising the $650,000 necessary to sustain our existing program and hire three more Advocate Mentors to work with 24 more children in South Carolina.