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The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation, in conjunction with the chamber’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, will offer an annual scholarship to Leadership Grand Strand (LGS) to provide full-tuition for one person from an underrepresented or marginalized group.
The scholarship is named after Bennie J. Swans Jr., a longtime community and civil rights activist. Swans is best known as the driving force behind the formation of Freedom Week - the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in Myrtle Beach. He is former chair of the Horry County Democratic Party. Swans was a decorated United States Army veteran who fought during the Vietnam War. He passed in September 2020.
“We are delighted the educational foundation can provide this new scholarship to help someone participate in the leadership training through LGS,” said Karen Riordan, president and CEO of Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “Bennie immediately came to mind when deciding the name of the scholarship. He was a great leader in our area and this scholarship represents everything he stood for and will help keep his memory alive.”
The Bennie Swans Scholarship is funded by the chamber’s educational foundation which is funded by local business contributions. The foundation will continue to award scholarships to local high school students in addition to the new Bennie Swans Scholarship.
The scholarship will cover the cost of the current LGS program tuition. The recipient must be accepted to the program and come from an underrepresented or marginalized group. The chamber’s DEI Council will form a selection committee to choose the scholarship winner.
LGS is a 10-month program sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to develop a corps of informed, committed and qualified individuals capable of providing dynamic leadership for the Grand Strand area.
“The LGS Board of Regents likes to see diversity among the class each year,” said Diana Greene, executive director of LGS. “We are excited by the opportunity to extend this scholarship to help someone from an underrepresented or marginalized group to go through the program and are thankful to the efforts of the chamber’s DEI council.”
Both the LGS and Bennie J. Swans Scholarship applications will be available March 1 at LeadershipGrandStrand.com.
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About Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
Since 1938, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has stood as the unified voice of the Grand Strand's business community. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has awarded the MBACC its five-star accreditation--one of only a few chambers in South Carolina to earn this distinction. The MBACC serves Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Little River, Atlantic Beach, Garden City Beach, Loris, Conway, Aynor, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island, Socastee and Carolina Forest. For more information, visit MyrtleBeachAreaChamber.com.
About the MBACC DEI Council
The mission of the MBACC Diversity Equity & Inclusion Council is to promote growth and enhance community awareness about the value and advantages of creating and sustaining diverse and inclusive businesses and workplace environments. Diversity is defined as any respect in which people or groups may differ, including race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, age, ability status and veteran status. Our goals are to encourage entrepreneurship, support the growth and development of businesses owned by individuals from underrepresented and marginalized groups, cultivate diversity leadership by providing resources and services for our diverse business community and help the community recognize the importance of all consumers.
About Leadership Grand Strand
The goal of Leadership Grand Strand, a program of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, is to develop a corps of informed, committed and qualified individuals capable of providing dynamic leadership for the Grand Strand. Over the years, Leadership Grand Strand has created a cadre of leaders who guide the direction of change throughout the Grand Strand. For more information about the program, visit LeadershipGrandStrand.com.
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