The Lowcountry is a community in crisis. The interconnected issues of education, housing and transportation contribute to poverty in our community and our neighbors are suffering.
Our neighbors are suffering and Bluffton Self Help is responding. We are leading a coordinated response to how human services are being offered in our community, including an additional $1 million investment this fiscal year.
Click below to see the research and join us in our continued mission to bring our neighbors from surviving to thriving.
in Beaufort County and 3 out of 4 in Jasper County are economically at risk. Not earning a living wage, they are just one mishap away from a financial crisis.
More than 38%…
of the housing units in Bluffton and Hardeeville are overcrowded, inadequate quality, or unaffordable. More than 40% are inhabited by families spending over 30% of their income on housing.
Simply learning English…
for the non-English speaking, economically at-risk, in our communities could cut their numbers living in poverty in half.
Elevating the educational levels…
of our workforce could greatly increase their income potential.
More than 21,000…
of these neighbors are food insecure, and one in five children in Beaufort County and 3 in 10 in Jasper County live in poverty.
44 million (23%)…
adults in the United States are functionally illiterate, lacking basic skills beyond a fourth-grade level.
South Carolina has the 13th highest…
rate of functional illiteracy in the United States.
11% of adults (10,745)…
lack basic prose literacy skills in Beaufort County
a high school education
27% of adults
lack a high school education in Jasper County
We are data informed, not data-driven.
We’ve done the research (and will continue to do so) and we are proactive in our planning and program delivery, yet nimble enough to support those in immediate crisis.
In 2020, to better understand the needs of our community, Bluffton Self Help embarked on a community research project in partnership with The Riley Center. As our community continues to change, and grow we will continue to respond to the need in a meaningful way based on capacity, trends, availability of resources and most importantly on what our neighbors unique needs are.
Economic Impact for Neighbors Earning their GED
29% of people in South Carolina with less that HS diploma / GED lived below 100% of the poverty rate
15% of people in South Carolina with HS diploma / GED lived below 100% of the poverty rate
The economic benefit to the community, according to a national study, is that GED recipients earn an extra $3,500 per year (in 2003 dollars). They also make non-economic contributions like more social participation, better health and more family literacy activities as compared with high school drop-outs.
Are likely to make $165 more weekly than adults without a high school education.
Have $5,040 more in annual personal income than adults with less than a high school education
Are more likely to hold a paying job within the last three years than adults with less than a high school education.
Economic Impact for neighbors Learning English
“Being unable to read is like being blind.” This is how one of our students described his personal world of shame and darkness before he enrolled in ESL classes.
Unfortunately, he is not alone.
The greatest percentage of individuals that speak English less than “very well” is seen in Jasper County (60% out of the total speaking a language other than English).
In Beaufort County, the percentage living below the poverty level is twice the amount for Spanish speaking homes compared to English speaking homes
As many as 44 million (23%) adults in the United States are functionally illiterate, lacking basic skills beyond a fourth-grade level, according to the National Adult Literacy Survey. In Beaufort County alone, 11% (10,745) of adult residents fit this profile, based on information from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. In neighboring Jasper County, that figure hovers near 27%.
Low literacy individuals struggle to find employment; they settle for low-paying jobs; they fight to increase their earning power and to support their families. They under-utilize the healthcare system out of fear, or over-utilize it because they are unable to follow written instructions on prescriptions or discharge papers.
Perhaps most heartbreaking is the long term effect their low-literacy has on their children – children who never hear a bedtime story or receive help with homework because their parents can’t read. Low literacy becomes intergenerational: the strongest indicator of a child’s success in school is his mother’s level of education.
The plight of low-literacy stretches beyond individual families and impacts us all.
Low literacy costs American businesses and taxpayers more than $225 billion annually, through lost wages, unemployment, welfare and other government assistance.
Low literacy adds $230 billion to the annual cost of delivering healthcare in the United States. International studies have found that the greatest single indicator of family and community health is the educational level of the mother.