Register by Oct. 19 for the Conrad Challenge

The world needs more creative thinkers! Register with the Conrad Challenge by October 19 to be part of the one-of-a-kind competition changing the world.

The Conrad Challenge is an annual, multi-phase innovation and entrepreneurial competition that brings together students from across the world to develop extraordinary and viable solutions to benefit our world. The 2018-2019 competition has officially launched inviting student teams (2-5 members, age 13-18) to register by Friday, October 19 at 11:59 p.m. ET and share their investor pitches by November 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Student teams must consist of a minimum of two members with a maximum of five, between the ages of 13-18 years old.

Don’t miss your chance to share your ideas with the world! Visit to learn more.

Editorial: South Carolina needs an education revolution

Thanks to The Post and Courier for this strong editorial about the need for an education revolution in South Carolina!

“There’s no getting around it. South Carolina suffers from a legacy of segregation and extreme poverty, thus its public schools consistently rank among the worst in the nation,” the editorial says. “Bold action is needed.”

Read the editorial:

Third grade reading, math proficiency rates show modest increases across tri-county region

Year-end test results released this week by the S.C. Department of Education show year-over-year increases in third grade reading and math and eighth grade math proficiencies across the tri-county region. Eighth grade reading proficiency levels declined slightly from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018.

At the third-grade level, 50.8 percent of tri-county students met or exceeded grade-level reading standards on the 2017-2018 SC READY test, a 6.5 percent increase from third grade results the prior year. On the math assessment, 57.1 percent of third graders met or exceeded standards, a less than 1 percent year-over-year increase.

At the eighth-grade level, 43.7 percent of tri-county students met or exceeded grade-level reading standards, a 3.7 percent decline from the 2016-2017 school year. On the math assessment, 40.3 percent of eighth graders met or exceeded standards, a 1.8 percent year-over-year increase.

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative closely tracks third and eighth grade test results, in particular, because those years are important indicators of later success. Third grade results can predict a child’s likelihood to graduate from high school, and eighth grade results are directly tied to college and career readiness.

“While year-end assessments and year-over-year comparisons have limited value over the short term in determining progress, these third-grade proficiency scores are encouraging,” TCCC CEO John C. Read said. “If, over the longer term, a pattern of moderate gains in proficiency can be sustained, especially in the early grades, education attainment will almost certainly increase.”

When broken down by race, the SC READY test results continue to show substantial disparity gaps among tri-county students.

In third-grade reading, for instance, 68.2 percent of White students met or exceed expectations, while only 32.2 percent of Hispanic students and 27.6 percent of Black students did the same. Similarly, in eighth-grade math, 56.3 percent of White students met or exceeded expectations, while just 28.1 percent of Hispanic students and 16.6 percent of Black students did the same.

“The disparity in results that separate students on the basis of color appears to have worsened somewhat across the region, an indication that public education is not yet serving these children well,” Read said. “Student growth measures, however, are far more useful in determining progress than these year-end scores.”

The S.C. Department of Education released state, district and school-level data for end-of-year tests from the 2017-2018 school year. Tri-county data include results from Berkeley County School District, Charleston County School District, Dorchester School District Two and Dorchester School District Four.

Test results were based on the SC READY assessments, which were given to all S.C. students in third through eighth grades. The tests are intended to measure overall student performance and college-and-career ready standards in core content areas.

Reading volunteers needed

Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood is looking for volunteers to join their Read365 program.

Volunteers are needed from 2:10 to 3:10 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Volunteers will be paired with either one or two students for hour-long sessions each week.

Email Elizabeth Coulton at to learn more!

WCBD: TCCC sends letter demanding better education to local leaders

Special thanks to Stetson Miller from WCBD News 2 for dropping by this week to interview our CEO, John Read, about our education letter.

More than 230 people have signed on so far!

Watch Stetson’s story at then sign the letter at

Letter demanding better education gathers more than 200 signatures

More than 200 individuals – including elected officials, business leaders, university presidents, school board members, faith leaders, educators, parents, students and community volunteers – have signed a letter that demands better for all children and their families.

“Together, we are taking ownership for public education and taking a stand to demand better from our school districts, school boards, legislators and decision makers,” the letter says.

Members of the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) Board of Directors drafted the letter in July and addressed it to leaders across the state.

“Public schools in South Carolina, by any objective measure, are failing to educate a significant number of our children,” said Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group and chair of the TCCC Board of Directors. “It’s not the fault of any one child, teacher, parent, principal or superintendent. Rather, it is every citizen’s responsibility. This powerful letter sends a signal to all leaders in this state that we stand ready to do whatever it takes to see positive change occur.”

The letter is a step in TCCC’s advocacy efforts to provoke systemic improvement that results in significantly improved student outcomes.

“To ensure our state’s quality of life and economic well-being, we will have to make equitable investments in public education and push new ideas and practices that work for students in poverty, even if it requires significant change to the system,” the letter says. “To us, real equity recognizes that not all children and districts start in the same place, so providing support for our most challenged students and schools will require unequal investments and higher levels of expectation and accountability.”

Laura Varn, founder of Laura Varn & Associates and member of the TCCC Board of Directors, chairs the advocacy subcommittee that drafted the letter. It will soon be mailed, she said, to state elected officials, the Lowcountry delegation, political candidates and others in leadership roles who have direct influence on education policies and decisions.

“We hope those who receive this letter will see how much support they will have if they make education the priority. We invite them to use this letter as proof of their constituents’ demand for higher teacher pay, more professional development, quality pre-school (3K and 4K) for all and equitable school funding, among other needs,” Varn said.

Supporters can read and sign the letter by visiting

“We must start treating education the way we treat infrastructure,” said John C. Read, CEO of TCCC. “The business community isn’t sending donations and volunteers with shovels to extend Interstate 526. They are, instead, using their voices to demand better highways and bridges. Until we all start using our voices to demand better schools, we will be stuck with the failing status quo.”

Letter to the Editor on CofC restoring race as admissions consideration

Thanks to The Post and Courier for publishing TCCC CEO John Read’s Letter to the Editor on the College of Charleston restoring race as a consideration in admissions.

Click here to read the letter.

Charleston Forum releases video of education panel

The Charleston Forum, held on June 21, included an education panel with: Cindy Ambrose, deputy superintendent of the Charleston County School District; John Read, CEO of Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative; Faith River James, assistant provost for leadership at The Citadel; Alana Simmons, creator of Hate Won’t Win and granddaughter of the late Rev. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr.; and Elliot Smalley, superintendent of the SC Public Charter School District. The panel discussion was moderated by Bakari Sellers, attorney and CNN commentator.

Click here to watch the Charleston Forum’s education panel.

Sales Tax Holiday planned for August 3-5

The S.C. Department of Revenue has scheduled the annual Sales Tax Holiday for August 3-5!

A variety of back-to-school essentials are exempt from the state’s 6% sales tax and any applicable local taxes starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 3, and ending at midnight on Sunday, August 5.

The following items will be tax-free during the holiday:

  • Clothing
  • Clothing accessories (e.g., hats, scarves, hosiery and handbags)
  • Footwear
  • School supplies (e.g., pens, pencils, paper, binders, notebooks, books, bookbags, lunchboxes and calculators)
  • Computers, printers and printer supplies, and computer software
  • Bath wash cloths, bath towels, shower curtains, bath rugs and mats
  • Blankets, bed spreads, bed linens, sheet sets, comforter sets, pillows and pillow cases

The sales tax holiday does not apply to:

  • Jewelry
  • Cosmetics
  • Eyewear
  • Wallets
  • Watches
  • Furniture
  • Rental of clothing or footwear
  • Items for use in a business
  • Items placed on layaway or similar deferred payment and delivery plans

Click here to learn more about the Sales Tax Holiday.

2018 First Day Festival

The City of Charleston’s Mayor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families is hosting the First Day Festival from 1 until 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 12, at Liberty Square at the SC Aquarium and the Charleston Maritime Center. Parking at the SC Aquarium and Gaillard garages will be $1 during the festival.

Exhibitors will provide information on education and community services, and FREE bags of school supplies will be handed out!

The city is holding a School Supply Drive to collect donations. The most requested supplies are:

  • Pencils and pens
  • Wide-ruled filler paper
  • Wide-ruled composition books
  • Two-pocket folders
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • 12-inch rulers
  • Colored pencils
  • Index cards
  • Tissues
  • Glue and glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Erasers

School supplies can be dropped off by Wednesday, August 8, at the following locations:

  • Arthur W. Christopher Community Center
  • Bees Landing Recreation Center
  • Charleston Tennis Center
  • James Island Recreation Center
  • Hazel Parker Playground
  • St. Julian Devine Community Center
  • Charleston Farmer’s Market
  • West Ashley Farmer’s Market

To learn more, visit or call 843.965.4190.