Camp iRock Gets State Grant

EASLEY — In late April, State Superintendent of Education, Molly M. Spearman announced that Camp iRock, a collaboration of United Way of Pickens County, the School District of Pickens County and the Pickens County YMCA was one of fourteen recipients to receive funding through the Summer Reading Camp Community Partnership Grant.

The entire application process was a “first” for the three partners, who have grown so close over the past year. When the opportunity for funding was announced, there was a very short window of time to complete the application.

Mark Eisengrein, director of Planned and Major Giving at United Way of Pickens County was recruited to spearhead this effort. It was clear from the beginning that none of the partners could have completed this process without the others. It was truly a team effort.

“In many ways, our first grant experience as partners mirrors the philosophy of Camp iRock, which exists because Pickens County is truly collaborative”, said Julie Capaldi, president of United Way of Pickens County. “We all bring to the table what we do best. The School District brings gifted teachers, the Y creates a fun and exciting camp experience, and United Way leverages their vast network to make sure funding is in place. It’s perfect.”

This grant was not without some anxious moments for the Camp iRock Partners. When the deadline for funding announcements passed without even an inkling of communication, they were worried.

Their worries were unfounded because one week pass the deadline, United Way received the call that Camp iRock was to receive $70,000 in state funding.

Camp iRock is an innovative summer literacy program that piloted last summer. Based on its impressive results, the partners recommended that the program be expanded countywide this summer.

Children are selected by the School District of Pickens County based on reading scores. For more information about Camp iRock, visit United Way of Pickens County’s website,

This article originally appeared May 19, 2016 in the Easley Progress.