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Thomas Smith 
Thomas Smith
Executive Director

Welcome to the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs!

 You have reached the official government website of the state agency responsible for working with the many diverse communities of color present in South Carolina. African Americans, the largest minority group represent 83.8 percent of all minorities in the State, followed by Hispanic/Latino persons who represent 9.4 percent of minorities, and Asians who represent 3.1 percent. The indigenous or Native American/Alaska Native people represent 1.1 percent of all minorities.

Additionally, many other ethnic groups have made South Carolina home. According to the US Census 2005 American Community Survey, English is spoken by 94.03 percent of people over 5 years of age in South Carolina. 229,312 persons speak languages other than English, representing 29 different languages. Our mission is to serve as a catalyst to bring about economic prosperity and social equity for all ethnic minorities. We do this through research, facilitation of improved public policy, and collaborating with other organizations to bring best practices and programs to South Carolina that address poverty and deprivation. We work with partners from the public, private and philanthropic sectors and welcome an opportunity to work with you.
Please contact us for additional information by calling (803) 333-9621. The Board and staff of the Commission look forward to working with you.

Agency Accomplishments

  • Statewide African American Strategic Plan which guides the work of the Commission and includes eight focus areas that collectively impact deprivation and poverty among African Americans and all minority populations.
  • In October 2006, the Parent Involvement Subcommittee of New Carolina – South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness, in partnership with CMA, was awarded a $12,000 donation from the SC Chamber of Commerce to promote parent involvement in education statewide.  On November 10, 2006, the Subcommittee partners hosted a summit entitled Getting Parents Involved in Education: Leadership Actions for a New Carolina. The first event in the state of its kind was attended by more than 300 concerned South Carolinians, including legislators and community leaders.  Attendees were introduced to specific elements that if properly implemented would help parents embrace a more active role in our schools, promote student achievement and improve the quality of education in South Carolina, thus helping our state reach its goal of being ranked nationally in the top half of states in education by 2010. 
  • In an effort to bring more innovation and creativity to public education, the Subcommittee formed a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education in 2007 to continue the initiative we began in 2006.  SDE will take on this initiative and provide over $100,000 in funding and staff support to develop further the program, based upon our model.  SDE is committed to sustaining our partnership and keeping the grassroots involvement we have built  through our Parent Involvement Advisory Network and have asked for our assistance in facilitating the transition and keeping the community and business level partnerships going strong.  Members of the original Parent Involvement Subcommittee will serve as Advisory Partners to the new Office of Parent and Community Services as they continue to drive this initiative forward. 
  • Native American State Recognition to recognize the indigenous people of the State of South Carolina.  In 2003, the CMA and the Native American leadership, worked with members of the General Assembly to pass legislation which made it possible for Native American    tribes, groups and special interest organizations to be State Recognized.  This was a historic event for the State of South Carolina and the Native American community.  Today, more than 30 Native American organizations have been chartered through the Office of the State Secretary of State.  Of these, seven “Tribes”, five “Groups”, and two “Special Interest Organization” have received formal State Recognition through the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs.
  • Personal Pathways to Success (Education and Economic Development Act of 2005)  The Commission joined public and private partners in supporting the passage of the Education and Economic Development Act of 2005, now known as Personal Pathways to Success.  The intent of the legislation was to connect education and workforce readiness.  Students explore career options starting in elementary school and by eighth grade develop Individual Graduation Plans (IGP’s), inclusive of course electives that prepare them to graduate from high school following a pathway to higher education, work, entrepreneurship, military or some other career aspiration.  CMA serves on four of five committees established to oversee the implementation of Personal Pathways to Success.
  • Commissioned and published The Economic and Social Implications of the Growing Latino Population in South Carolina.  This 2007 report focused on the economic and social impacts of the growing Hispanic population in South Carolina, and was a joint research effort between the Commission for Minority Affairs, the Darla Moore School of Business, and the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies at the University of South Carolina.
  • Commissioned and published The Economic Benefits of Pre-School in South Carolina.  This March 2008 report provides clear evident of the benefits derided by providing additional funding for high-quality pre-school.  This report was a joint effort lead by Dr. Clive R. Belfield, Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Queens College, City University of New York and Co-Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education, in conjunction with the CMA research team inclusive of Jim Darby, Dr. Baron Holmes, Bruce Mills, Dr. Marion Sillah, Aisha Staggers, Benjamin Washington, Jr. and Dr. Ann Winstead. 
  • CMA provided Community/Faith-Based Organizations training and technical assistance in the areas of internal capacity building; applying for non-profit corporation status through the Secretary of State office; applying for tax exempt status under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code; and applying for grant funds. During the past year, eight of the faith and community based organizations assisted with the completion and submission of their 501(c)3 applications received approval of their applications and are now recognized as being tax exempt. One organization, a Community Development Corporation (CDC), recently completed construction of its first low-to-moderate income house and has plans to build several more houses over the summer.
  • CMA fostered several research and state agency partnerships in order to develop and enhance the Commission’s statistical data and clearinghouse functions to address health disparities.  These include the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between CMA and the Institute for the Partnership to Eliminate Health Disparities (IPEHD) in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.  This MOA focuses on research to examine the impact of health disparities and access to health care affecting minorities. 
  • Additionally, the CMA signed a Memorandum of Agreement as a member agency of the South Carolina Joint Council on Adolescents. The Council’s mission is to ensure the provision of effective and efficient services to youth, adolescents and their families by pooling resources in order to increase the capacity, quality and accessibility of services.  The Joint Council consists of both Directors/Chief Executives of state agencies and community-based organizations who seek to serve youth and improve their overall well-being and likelihood of completing their education.

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