DENMARK – Moses Washington of the Washington Foundation recently distributed more than 169 book bags filled with school supplies to Denmark area students in grades four through 12.
In addition, Washington, who grew up in Denmark, announced he is launching the "Corridor of Shame Initiative" to establish a scholarship fund that will rotate between 36 rural high schools located primarily along Interstate 95 in South Carolina.
“If our children don’t have the right supplies, then they will be unable to get the job done in the classroom," said Washington, a 20-year-old junior majoring in political science at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. "This is the same with any occupation … if you don’t have the tools you need for your job, then you can’t perform it.”
He said the recent Back-to-School Bash was established to serve as a source of motivation to the children and the community because motivation to do well in school is another part of the puzzle to succeeding.
Another purpose of the Washington Foundation is to combat the stigma of the Corridor of Shame, Washington said.
“The rural school districts that make up the corridor have been traditionally neglected by the state of South Carolina. My school district, Bamberg School District Two, is included,” he said.
Washington said he learned about the Corridor of Shame when he was being educated in Denmark, and he took the issue of equity in funding for the state's school districts to heart.
“I think that it became even more pressing to see our school district’s proposed plan of a new school get vetoed by the former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, and to see politicians use our town/the Corridor of Shame for publicity reasons without planning to make change, or knowing what it feels like to have limited opportunities based on your zip code," he added.
“Therefore, I decided to stop talking and do whatever small thing I can to address this issue and be the change.”
Washington continued, “(Denmark is) the place I call home, it’s the place I love, and it’s the place where I would like to make change. My background in Denmark drives my passion for the Washington Foundation because I know the struggles firsthand."
Citing the 2016 Bamberg School District Two Executive Summary, he said the district ranked fourth out of 86 school districts in families below the poverty line (29.59 percent), their unemployment rate was below state average (9.1 percent) and the median household income was $26,697.
“The thing is the statistics aren’t just a number to me … it’s something that I live out because I am a part of the number which drives me,” Washington said.
The Washington Foundation became a registered nonprofit corporation in South Carolina on April 19, 2017.
Washington serves on the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. He is also an intern for Teach for America on the campus and a Gates Millennium Scholar. He said he hopes to pursue a law degree at a top university.
Washington's mother, Gloria Gilbert, and his father, Charles Washington, are Denmark natives.