Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) and YEScarolina (YES) form a strategic alliance

(CHARLESTON, SC; August 11, 2021)- With twenty-four years of combined experience in positive youth development, the nonprofit groups will officially merge under the ECM umbrella on September 1, bringing a comprehensive k-12 pipeline of supports for dynamic experiences in school, out of school (summer and after school), and professional development. YES, programming will continue to exist and grow entrepreneurial programming within ECM. Leading the organization, Robin Berlinsky, ECM Executive Director, welcomes Tracy Bradshaw, former Executive Director of YES, as the new ECM Deputy Director.

Berlinsky and Bradshaw are pleased to unveil the joint mission to spark creativity and curiosity in all learners through innovative and experiential learning. The alliance demonstrated extraordinary success piloting the pipeline in Allendale- Fairfax, and Charleston County School Districts with over 750 students this summer.

Dr. David Mathis, Deputy Superintendent, SC Department of Education (SCDE), and David Platts, Executive Director of SC Arts Commission (SCAC), joined the ECM and YES Board members on August 10 to celebrate the arts-integrated pipeline created by the merge. They also highlighted their enthusiasm for a project with SCDE and SCAC, supporting the growth of ECM’s replicable k-12 summer programming as part of SCDE’s investment in the arts. Leveraging resources to scale out the evidence-based model promises a creative pathway—rooted in innovation to increase student and teacher outcomes impacting learning loss and remediation in core subjects.

“Superintendent Spearman and I both believe that the SCDE’s $20M investment in the arts over the next three years will be a lighthouse in South Carolina, engaging our students in creative ways, improving instruction and student achievement. This merger creates a total package; elementary, middle, and high school, and we stand ready to make this mission in South Carolina a model nationwide,” states Mathis.

Platts affirms, “The SC Arts Commission is very excited to be a part of the merger with YEScarolina and Engaging Creative Minds. We have a long history with Engaging Creative Minds and now have more people at the table to join in this work moving forward our partnership with the state department of education.”

In addition to statewide congratulations for the merger, national partners share congratulatory remarks.

“This is such great news for the students in South Carolina as ECM, one of our outstanding award-winning summer programs, is now able to expand its K-8 programming to reach high schoolers in an innovative way,” said Aaron Dworkin, Chief Executive Officer, National Summer Learning Association. “ECM is a wonderful example of how summer programs, when funded, can make a great impact on the youth they aim to serve.”

Board members express excitement:

“What an opportunity! We now have a K - 12 pipeline to serve so many more students teaching the Arts through STEAM and ENTREPRENEURSHIP. This merger will be a bright light for many programs throughout the State that have similar missions to come together to make a huge impact on their communities.” Cathy Marino, ECM Board Chair

“For the past 17 years, YEScarolina (YES) has worked with South Carolina teachers and students teaching and building entrepreneurial and business skills. There are many young successful entrepreneurs today that can trace their beginnings back to YES. Today’s announcement that YES will be joining forces with the Engaging Creative Minds team is a logical next step in expanding the support and influence on the future leaders of South Carolina.” John J Mistretta, YES Board Chair

“Two great organizations coming together to bring out the best in South Carolina youth makes all the sense in the world! 1+1=5!”- Adam Witty, Advantage Media, Forbes Books, YES Board Member

“The combination of these two organizations will bring so much more creative power to the schools and students we serve. Power on!” Tui Allen, Shopify, ECM Board Member

“The YEScarolina high school network spans across South Carolina, and the passion ECM has for Arts and STEM is a perfect match coming together. Promoting out-of-the-box learning with entrepreneurship, arts, culture, collaboration, creativity, and communication, among other skills, only makes our youth and our state stronger as a whole.” Austin Stone- Vice President Bridgeport Homes, YES Board Member & Executive Director (2016-18)

“It is both inspiring and sensible that YEScarolina and Engaging Creative Minds would link forces to provide even more benefit to the futures of SC school children. I applaud the collaboration.” Nella G. Barkley-ECM Founding Board Member

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