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College of Education

Giving Spotlight: Colonial Life

Alana Stroker, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Colonial Life, shares why her organization knew the College of Education’s Apple Core Initiative was a perfect fit for their philanthropic goals.

Q: What made the Apple Core Initiative stand out as a grant recipient?

A: “The Apple Core Initiative aligned nicely to our Equitable Pathways grant program. Within ‘Equitable Pathways,’ we want to fund programs that address the needs of older student populations, students who may not have access to secondary-education or programs that make education equitable for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. The Apple Core Initiative was a fantastic fit because it checked so many of those boxes for us.”


Q: Tell us about your history with the College of Education.

A: “We were one of the founding funders of the Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP). We knew how important it was to keep educators in the classroom and our commitment to that program has grown and evolved for many years. We were excited to see another program from the College of Education that had the chance to deepen that relationship.”


Q: How does the grant process work?

A: “We like to meet with applicants to make sure they fully understand our process and see if it would be a good fit prior to the application. We met with Jennifer McCormack in the Office of Development and Teesa Brunson, the College of Education’s Director of Development to discuss the goals of the program and its needs. We ask a lot of questions and really vet our programs for fit. The Apple Core Initiative was hands down approved and really a perfect complement to our corporate goals.”


Q: What was something inspiring about the Apple Core Initiative?

A: “We are so proud of Apple Core’s commitment to representation in the classroom. It is so important and necessary for students and their ability to learn. Understanding that concept created some amazing conversations among our team members. Some were able to recall that most of their educators looked and sounded like themselves, others said they never had a teacher who looked like they did. Our team had the opportunity to consider the meaning of seeing ourselves mirrored in those giving us instruction and shaping our futures.”


Q: How do you envision the future of this relationship?

A: “One year after funding is received, all of our grant recipients complete an impact survey. We use this to get a pulse check of how the funding received achieved the goals of the program. After the impact survey is submitted, we will meet with UofSC’s College of Education to discuss how we plan to continue the partnership. We are committed to funding equitable educational opportunities for all, so our hope is to continue partnering with UofSC’s College of Education to achieve these goals. 

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