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Helping South Carolina Thrive

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This article was originally featured in the Fall 2022 Giving magazine.

There is a wealth of resources available to help people in need, but the process of applying for aid can seem overwhelming. Worse yet, many people aren’t even aware of the many helpful programs that exist to help them make ends meet. SC Thrive is working to find solutions to these problems and more.

The idea behind SC Thrive emerged in 2008, when the Palmetto Institute research organization began to examine why South Carolinians were still struggling with food insecurity and other issues while millions in federal funds for assistance went unclaimed. In 2009, funding from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and the Duke Endowment helped launch the Benefit Bank of South Carolina. Its goal was to make benefits more accessible through a full-service approach.

The Benefit Bank evolved into SC Thrive, and it’s already had a powerful impact. From 2010 to 2021, SC Thrive and its partners brought back more than $800 million to over 417,000 South Carolinians in the form of tax refunds and work supports.

SC Thrive Chief Executive Officer Tricia Richardson said the organization streamlines the application process to give counselors more time to better serve their clients holistically.

“We create wraparound services so clients can receive all the benefits they may be eligible for in one setting instead of traveling from agency to agency to receive assistance,” Richardson said. “This saves individuals money they can put back into their pockets and use to cover other essential expenses such as food, medications or housing. Efficiencies like these are crucial for organizations as they continue to navigate through the pandemic and beyond.”

Among its many initiatives, SC Thrive now offers a convenient online service portal called Thrive Hub.

“Through Thrive Hub, South Carolina’s premier social care platform, individuals can find help in their communities or their own homes,” Richardson said. “They can log in to their own Thrive Hub accounts to access resources online and tell their stories one time. Their information is in the system and shared across providers with consent.”

Clients also have access to a resource directory, a searchable database of SC Thrive’s many partners across the state. Richardson said it’s part of SC Thrive’s goal of increasing efficiency for clients as well as partners.

“It allows a service provider who may be helping a client apply for benefits to also look for other resources that may be available to that client and make a referral to that organization — all from within Thrive Hub,” she said.

A recent focus of SC Thrive is helping people through the “benefits gap,” which happens when they make too much money to qualify for benefits but still have trouble making ends meet. Counselors help people understand the benefits gap so they can save enough money to get through it.

SC Thrive is one of the core grants of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. It’s a perfect fit for the Foundation’s mission.

“The Foundation views this connection to benefits and health insurance as crucial to improving the health of the economically vulnerable to maximize existing programs and lift people out of poverty,” said Bree Bess, Foundation program officer.

With help from the Foundation, SC Thrive continues to grow and seek innovative new ways to help South Carolinians.

“Today, because of the investment from the Foundation, our clients can use Thrive Hub to apply for Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, Refugee Cash Assistance, Welvista, long-term care, state disability or Medicare Savings Programs,” Richardson said. “They can apply for a replacement Social Security card, file their taxes and even to register to vote — all in one place.

To apply for resources, you can set up an account online on Thrive Hub or speak to an SC Thrive counselor at the Contact Center by calling 800-726-8774.