Palmetto Promise Institute Hails New McMaster SAFE Grants Education Program

July 20, 2020

July 20, 2020

Media Contact: Lawson Mansell
Policy Content Manager

Palmetto Promise Institute Hails New McMaster SAFE Grants Education Program

Greenville, SC – In a news conference today at Hampton Park Christian School, Governor Henry McMaster unveiled a bold new education program designed to help meet the educational needs of working families suffering from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants program, funded by $32 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, creates scholarship accounts for K5-12 students whose families earn no more than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines ($78,600 for a family of four). Similar to proven programs in Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, SAFE Grants may be used for tuition and fees (including transportation) at participating South Carolina independent schools.

According to Palmetto Promise Institute President Ellen Weaver, the SAFE Grants program comes at just the right time. “Most independent schools in South Carolina serve low- and moderate-income families. These families and schools have been hit hard. Education decisions that will shape children’s futures are being made now. SAFE Grants will allow children to continue to learn in the schools they love and prevent already over-stressed public schools from being overrun.”

With the $32 million, and grants of $6,500 per student, the SAFE Grants program is expected to serve approximately 5,000 students.

An online portal for parents to apply and for schools will open in coming days. Parents and schools who wish to receive instant notification when the portal opens should visit to sign up to receive updates. Schools may also apply to participate in the program by visiting the My SC Education website.

SAFE Grants are available to any student meeting income guidelines who enroll to attend an approved independent school for the 2020-2021 school year. The first 2,500 grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, with remaining funds being allocated by a lottery. Previous independent school attendance is not required.

Weaver concluded: “COVID-19 hasn’t discriminated between the learning and health of public and private school students and neither should we. Congress clearly intended all students to benefit from these resources. While public schools receive the lion’s share of CARES Act funding, every student’s education has been impacted, and every student deserves our help. I applaud Governor McMaster for his bold leadership in creating this program to support students wherever they learn.”


Palmetto Promise Institute (PPI) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization. PPI conducts public policy research dedicated to advancing a free and flourishing South Carolina, where every individual has the opportunity to reach their full potential.