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UIYP and SC Student Loan executives pose with ceremonial check
Pictured L to R: Tequisha Whitener, UIYP Advisor; Dr. Thwanda Davidson, UIYP Executive Director; Claire Gibbons, Power:Ed Director; Trey Simon, SC Student Loan Corporation President

Columbia, SC — The Upstate Institute of Youth Programs, (UIYP) is a first-time recipient of a $30,000 grant from Power:Ed, a philanthropy of SC Student Loan. The funds will be used to support academic and STEM activities for 45 low-income, first-generation high school students in the Oconee County School District. This includes academic assistance twice a week in UIYP’s homework center, STEM & Career exploration events, and four weeks of summer day camp.  

UIYP has established partnerships with Clemson University’s Women in Science & Engineering Program (WISE), mechanical engineering students, Call Me Mister, the Black Graduate Student Association, and others for mentoring, tutoring, and career guidance for participating youth. 

“We are honored the Upstate Institute of Youth Programs, Inc. was selected as a recipient of a Power:Ed grant to support our STEM Discovery and Career Explorational Project,” said Dr. Thwanda Davidson, UIYP Co-Founder and Executive Director. “This partnership with Power:Ed allows us to expand upon our existing services to expose at-risk students in grades 9-12 to learn and experience various career options they may not initially have access to. We propose to increase students' knowledge in STEM career fields and career opportunities through various activities year-round. The series of events are designed so students can make well thought out decisions to chart a career path that will be a good fit,” she added.

“We are excited to see what UIYP will do and the potentially transformative impact they will have,” said Power:Ed Director Claire Gibbons.

In the first quarter of FY2022-23, Power:Ed has awarded six grants to SC education and career readiness nonprofits totaling nearly $219,000. UIYP is the first announced and more are planned. Grants are administered quarterly and the deadline for the next round of grant funding is October 1, 2022.

About Upstate Institute of Youth Programs (UIYP)

UIYP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by James and Thwanda Davidson in Seneca, South Carolina in 2006. They recognized a need in the Upstate to provide youth with academic and athletic support as well as a greater appreciation for the arts and service to the community. UIYP has worked with hundreds of students to provide academic and college preparedness assistance, art/cultural appreciation events, involvement with athletic programming and service initiatives, as well as life skills coaching to help them overcome barriers. UIYP’s mission is to offer young people positive programs through academic, athletics, art appreciation/cultural events and life skills, so they can aspire to be positive contributors in their community.

About Power:Ed

Founded in 2019, Power:Ed, a philanthropy of SC Student Loan is dedicated to creating opportunities for South Carolina’s youth and adults by supporting low-income, minority, and first-generation students; improving access to college and degree completion; and creating pathways to quality workforce opportunities. Organizations serving middle school through post-college talent who are interested in applying for a grant or partnering with Power:Ed, should visit


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