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Education & Workforce Development


To develop initiatives that strengthen partnerships between the business community and our educational institutions. This includes public, private, and higher education partnerships to progress education and workforce development.

Chair:  Lefford Fate

Liasion:  Breanna Hughes

This committee conducts monthly meetings, and hosts a variety of events throughout the year that support its mission. Events include:

Golden Apple Awards:

Hiring young people of high integrity and character means everything to Sumter employers. That is why The Chamber hosts The Golden Apple Awards. We value the character of our students today as we know it will be what drives our community in the future.

The Golden Apple Awards are an opportunity to recognize students within the Sumter School District who exhibit outstanding characteristics such as: honesty, integrity, perseverance, and service to others. These awards are awarded at 13 different breakfasts throughout the year at all area middle & high schools. The Golden Apple Awards honor twelve students from each high and middle school in the Sumter School District.Winners are nominated by their techers or adminstrators and their families are invited to attend the award presentations.

Educator of the Year:

The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce recognizes the contributions wonderful teachers make in the lives of our youth and their ability to foster future leaders in our community, state and nation. Most people would say their lives have been profoundly influenced by the care, dedication, wisdom, and enthusiasm of one or more teachers. In recognition of Sumter educators displaying leadership, citizenship and community engagements, the Chamber proudly presents the “Educator of the Year Award” to recognize an elementary, middle, and high school teacher. The three winners are recognized at the Chamber’s Annual Gala where each will receive a one-time stipend of $500 to assist in his/her classroom.


Here at The Chamber we value education and workforce development because we know the future of Sumter depends on it. The Education Committee seeks to bridge the gap between business and educational entities, developing a lasting forum where ideas and action meet for the betterment of our community. As workforce needs shift, The Chamber collaborates with Sumter education systems in efforts to align their programs to meet the needs of industries so that students graduate with the qualifications to fill available jobs right here in Sumter. For our region to prosper economically and sustain a high quality of life, it needs a well-educated and highly skilled labor force. Focusing on the education and character development of our youth is essential for an overall healthy society and is correlated to increased civic engagement and health status as well as lower risk of incarceration. So here at The Chamber, we think that education should not be equated with vocational training only. It should also foster personal growth, social development, an appreciation for the arts, attention to obtaining integrity, and living with a passion.

Career Leadership Forums:

Our Education Committee developed Career Leadership forums as one way to unite Sumter’s youth with local business and industry. Through roundtable and leadership discussions, career professionals interact with middle and high school students to help ignite the passion needed to develop a healthy perspective for their future careers, quality of life and community. Students gain a realistic picture of the business world, the range and extent of business activities and opportunities, and can then have their curriculum supplemented with relevant learning experiences. Local business and industry professionals share their direction and insight, helping to ensure a vibrant future economy for generations to come.

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