Center History

Benson SchoolThe Center began as a handful of federal and state training projects in 1981, led by founder Lois Wright, MSSW, EdD, of the College of Social Work. Over the next ten years, the Center would contract and train and support programs from Virginia to Hawaii in addition to work here in South Carolina. By the 1990’s, the Center had grown into a major provider of training, research and evaluation to a variety of organizations across the nation who share the common goal of strengthening children and families.

In 1996, the growing Center moved into the historic Benson Building, a former public elementary school that had been a hub of the community for many decades before its purchase by the University in 1987. There remains a satisfying continuity for the Center to be housed in a place specifically built to educate and enrich the children of the local community.

Over the following decades, the Center and its associates gathered grants and contracts from multiple sources including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the US Department of Education and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. By partnering with an array of organizations, the Center qualitatively improves the University’s service to the community by supporting organizations at work in our communities. By supporting the South Carolina Department of Social Services, we help them better serve the children and families of this state.

Now, the Center’s vision is to be the leading center for professional development and capacity building in collaboration with local, state, and national partners dedicated to improving the well-being of children, families, and communities. We move forward with a dedicated and highly skilled complement of trainers, writers and multi-media designers to realize our mission.

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