July 10, 2020
To our Community:
We are proud to announce our new name to you. The Arras Foundation.
On March 28, 1995, the Foundation was created by a vote of hospital members and directors. Our initial assets came from the sale of the Elliott White Springs Hospital in November 1994. For 25 years, we have been focused on strengthening the health and wellness of all who live in our community.
Primarily our efforts have included grantmaking and broad-based initiatives such as support for teaching and learning, literacy and organizational empowerment, and the successful transition of youth to adulthood. All of our efforts have been designed with community input, as we share a vision with organizations and residents in order to build a healthy community together, where everyone can thrive.
Since April 2016, the Foundation has been working with the communities we serve to develop the measures by which we can track our progress. Our North Star, investment tenets, and community indicators guide our work every day since their formal adoption four years ago. In July 2016, we deepened our community engagement work, both to better connect us as a community and also to ensure our plans reflect your hopes and dreams.
In response to our students and school leaders, we partnered with the Duke Endowment and Furman University to bring the College Advising Corps to SC in 2017, beginning in the communities we serve, launching a five-year partnership with local high schools in Chester and Lancaster Counties – to support our students as they plan for life after graduation. Examining national philanthropic strategies for building healthy communities, while collecting input from our partners, we launched our Healthy Community grantmaking and beyond grantmaking strategies to the community in late 2017. They continue to be shaped by our grantee and community partners to this day. Also in 2017, with input from our teachers, we aligned our classroom grantmaking to the Profile of the SC Graduate and our Healthy Community Indicators.
Our work for a quarter century has been to weave together community investments and partnerships that make our region stronger. Our work, every day, reflects our commitment to join with partners to prioritize:
- Growing a healthier community, together;
- Weaving together community assets – people, places, and organizations; and
- Ensuring people and their voices are heard
In 2017, we began to explore the reality that our name, the J Marion Sims Foundation, was a source of confusion to our partners. We are not a family foundation, nor are we affiliated with Dr. Sims. We also learned that we had missed opportunities to fully engage with the entire community due to our name being a barrier. The board and staff commissioned a branding advisory team to explore a name that reflects our tenets, values, and the work we do each day.
After years of dialogue, planning, and authentic community engagement with partners, residents, and community leaders, the trustees of the J. Marion Sims Foundation voted to change the organization’s name to the Arras Foundation in January 2019. The word “arras” means a diverse tapestry; the new name reflects the Foundation’s 25-year history of weaving together community assets to grow healthier communities in Lancaster County, Great Falls, and Fort Lawn, South Carolina. We had planned to reveal our new name at the time we move into our new building later this year.
But at this time in the world, our board and staff decided to take action now.
The new name – the Arras Foundation – reflects the tradition of the Foundation’s work since 1995. Though we have a new name, our goal does not change. The Arras Foundation will continue its long-standing work of promoting the health and well-being of residents in the communities of Fort Lawn, Great Falls, and Lancaster, SC, building on the collective wisdom of all the people who live here.
We look forward to working together with the entire community to continue to “see the possible.”
The next chapter in our history has begun.
The Arras Foundation
President & CEO
The Arras Foundation