In 2011, the Mary Black Foundation gave a $900,000 grant to Spartanburg District 7 Schools to assist with the creation of the Park Hills Early Learning Center. The Early Learning Center program was designed to enhance children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development by offering comprehensive services such as home visits. The Early Learning Center is on a full school day schedule and transportation is provided. All teachers and assistants are trained in the High Scope educational approach emphasizing “active, participatory learning”. District 7 modified the facility which used to operate as Park Hills Elementary School to meet standards of NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). The center has obtained NAEYC accreditation to further enhance a learning environment conducive for early learners.
The Foundation staff worked with Hub City Farmers’ Market to plant two raised bed gardens in the Fall of 2011 for the children of Park Hills. The students maintain the gardens and eat the vegetables produced from them.