Mission Statement


  • Charleston RISE is a grassroots movement that has one goal: empower local parents to demand an excellent education for all Charleston students. 

  • Charleston RISE does this by mobilizing Charleston County parents who have a clear passion for improving our education system through a 30-week fellowship program.

  • Parents graduate with the knowledge, tools and network necessary to drive real and lasting change for all children. 

We need your help and support in order to train more than 100 RISE Fellows by the end of 2018.

Here's what your donation covers:

  • $300—Equips one RISE fellow with on-boarding supplies for their first 15 weeks of training
  • $500—Provides one dinner for our RISE Fellows before class
  • $1,000—Secures classroom space for two months of our weekly class
  • $10,000—Supports one RISE fellow for the entire 30 weeks of training

One year ago, 12 courageous women and SouthCarolinaCAN recognized the need to fight for better schools in the Charleston County School District. They saw dismal test scores and asked the question, “How can we change this path?” They recognized that true change requires a partnership with parents, teachers, administrators and school board members.

With that common goal, the Charleston RISE Fellowship program was born and their fight to ensure that every child in Charleston has access to a quality education began. Too many students – especially African American students—are trapped in a cycle of failing schools and Charleston RISE is dedicated to stopping that cycle with the help of an empowered community.

We’ve seen measurable success during our inaugural year. Over the past year, more than 70 community advocates have successfully completed our Fellowship program. We have researched and published school rankings for all CCSD schools, and we’ve amassed more than 1,500 followers on Facebook. We’ve also had significant local and state media attention that includes published opinion pieces and coverage of RISE Fellowship graduations.

We are grateful for the unwavering support we’ve experienced over the past year. We’re fortunate to have a network of supporters from the Lowcountry who have selflessly given their time, personal energy and money to launch, sustain and help Charleston RISE grow. It’s been refreshing to see that so many people share our vision for bettering all CCSD schools.

Charleston RISE wouldn’t be the program it is without the generous contributions we’ve received from our funders during the past year. Those donations have given us the ability to launch our mission and make it successful. Our success through the RISE Fellowship program can be attributed to the fact that people in the community see a need for Charleston RISE and believe in its mission as much as we do.

We have a long way to go, but we won't stop because we can't stop until every child in Charleston has a good education. The best is yet to come.

Cheryl Cromwell

Cheryl Cromwell

Bradford Swann

Bradford Swann


Army of Advocates



Here are the new poll results of our fellows:



of Charleston RISE graduates are better equipped to organize and advocate with other parents on school-related issues after completing our parent advocacy classes



of Charleston RISE graduates are more confident interacting with teachers and principals after completing our parent advocacy classes.



of Charleston RISE graduates are more aware of their local school’s performance after completing our parent advocacy classes



of Charleston RISE graduates are more likely to run for school board or another elected office positions after completing the parent advocacy classes.

the education narrative


Charleston RISE was featured in a number of news outlets across the state. Our group was featured locally in Charleston and was even covered in the Upstate.

News outlets:

The Post & Courier and The Charleston Chronicle published multiple letters to the editor and opinion pieces by RISE.

In additional to editorial pieces, outlets across the Lowcountry covered the launch of RISE and the first cohort graduation.


Looking Ahead


Charleston RISE is on track to graduate 100 fellows by the end of 2018. 
Fred Jones, Charleston RISE deputy director, worked hand-in-hand with our fellows to create four campaigns that will help them build on the knowledge and skills gained through our Fellowship program.

Intro for campaigns

The second phase of the Charleston RISE fellowship program harnesses the education advocates’ passion for excellent schools and their newly expanded knowledge of educational issues to begin as they begin taking meaningful action and strengthening their leadership skills. Specifically, parent advocates spearhead team projects in the Charleston community designed to make excellent schools a reality and. These projects, which are designed and selected by the fellows, have ranged from building a parent advocacy program to be implemented through churches, to generating local support for a new high-quality public school in North Charleston.


RISE campaigns


School Board Accountability

The campaign project will design, implement and manage a report card where key votes are scored and reported to the public. The purpose of this project is to hold the current school board accountable to help improve student outcomes. Charleston RISE has also submitted to the Charleston County School District a list of requests the Board should adhere to going forward. The requests include live streaming meetings, more detailed minutes and advance release of agendas. As the school board election nears, this initiative will shift to include election-related outreach.


Faith-Leaders Outreach

This campaign project will engage faith leaders and leverage their influence to ensure the faith community becomes more actively engaged in the effort to improve Charleston County schools. We want to get the church as a whole to engage in this issue. We hope to educate pastors, create working relationships and get the needs of public education front and center.


Data and Community Awareness

This campaign project will focus on public information sharing and participating in community events. We aim to engage between 5,000–10,000 local community members to educate them about the current performance of students, especially African-American students in CCSD and encourage them to demand change.


High-Quality Middle Schools in N. Charleston

This campaign will identify, recruit and train parents and community members interested in advocating for the develop of high-quality middle schools.