Meet Catalyst Darla Moore

Darla Moore
Founder, The Darla Moore Foundation

Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) can largely credit Darla Moore’s embracing vision of high-quality education for its very existence.

After decades in the financial industry, Moore, a renowned business leader who was born in Lake City, S.C., turned her attention to giving back to her beloved state, particularly by supporting the education system.

In 2010, she founded The Darla Moore Foundation to enhance the lives of the residents of the Pee Dee region and all of South Carolina. According to Harry Lesesne, executive director of The Darla Moore Foundation, “Much of our mission begins by making high-quality education available with a focus on students with the greatest need and the greatest promise.”

The year she started The Darla Moore Foundation, Moore served on the national board of directors for Teach For America (TFA). Seeing firsthand the impact of TFA’s innovative model and outstanding teachers in underserved public schools, she spearheaded efforts to launch TFA in South Carolina. Moore enthusiastically lobbied for legislative approval to bring the organization into the state, and she gave substantial funding to initially get TFASC off the ground in the Pee Dee region, then expand to other regions of the state.

The first TFASC teachers energized classrooms in 2011, thanks largely to The Darla Moore Foundation. In total, the foundation has donated several million dollars to the work of TFASC in its first decade of impact. This catalytic support led to more than 700 TFASC teachers and alumni positively impacting over 70,000 students with their energy and intentionality at South Carolina schools with the greatest needs.

“The value of young teachers putting their heart and soul into something that matters in a state like this with needs so great will pay off no matter what,” said Lesesne.

“We definitely see it as an investment in the future of South Carolina,” he added. “Organizations like TFASC help grow a leadership cohort who can be the future supporters of our state’s education system.”

Lesesne points to additional targeted donations from The Darla Moore Foundation that are nourishing key parts of the education ecosystem.

The Darla Moore Foundation supports the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, for example, that offers college scholarships to worthy high school graduates in nine counties in the Pee Dee region. Several TFASC teachers and partners have been involved with Meeting Street, which identifies high-potential students in circumstances that might restrict them from going to college. To date, Moore’s foundation has supported hundreds of young South Carolinians with scholarships.

“We know higher education is a key element for success later in life, and the cost of a college degree grows every year,” said Moore. “We must make higher education available to every deserving student who wants it but without burdening them with student loan debt far into their adulthood.”

The nonprofit bearing Moore’s name continues to beam out philanthropic leadership in South Carolina like a coastal lighthouse, and it will always hold a place in its heart for TFASC.

“Darla Moore is very forthright about her amazing success, and how none of it would have happened without the doors of education opening up her life,” concluded Lesesne.

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