In 2020, Blue Ridge Electric Co-op (BREC) and WCFIBER, a subsidiary of WCTEL, joined forces to create Upcountry Fiber, an internet service provider that bridges the digital divide by bringing broadband internet service to rural and other under and unserved communities. Today, both companies, under the Upcountry Fiber brand, officially launched a new foundation to give back to Upstate philanthropic organizations.
The newly formed Upcountry Fiber Foundation is a permanent endowment. Its focus will be on funding non-profits that serve the community in education, youth, culture, arts, and health and human services areas, as the foundation is committed to creating a stronger connection between the organizations that link people and businesses with areas of need.
On September 19, the organization will kick off its inaugural Upcountry Fiber Foundation Charity Classic golf tournament at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards to raise seed money for its endowment. The presenting sponsor is utility construction contractor ElectriCom. Other Upstate companies have also invested to sponsor this first-year event.
Upcountry Fiber Foundation is building on the 23-year legacy of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative’s Blue Ridge Fest, an annual event that raised more than $3 million for area non-profits by bringing people together around their love of classic cars, music, and family. That event ceased to operate in 2020 due to the negative impact the pandemic had on holding large events.
“When COVID stopped Blue Ridge Fest, we had an opportunity to re-evaluate how we wanted to give back. With the timing of the launch of Upcountry Fiber and both WCFIBER’s and Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative’s shared vision to improve the lives of our neighbors, it made sense to join forces with one philanthropic arm,” Jim Lovinggood, president and CEO, Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. “The Upcountry Fiber Foundation and its future fundraising events and initiatives replace Blue Ridge Fest, but it also expands how far and wide of an impact we can collectively make.”
“Utility co-ops have a long-standing history of stepping up to help people in their communities. It is a part of our shared culture and beliefs to contribute to making them stronger,” said Jeff Wilson, president and CEO of WCFIBER. “Upcountry Fiber Foundation is an extension of this and we are excited to pour into the philanthropic organizations in our footprint that are making a difference right here where we live.”
In early 2023, Upcountry Fiber Foundation will open and announce the application process for grant funding in the following counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Greenville, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg Counties.
For more information about Upcountry Fiber Foundation, visit: https://www.upcountryfiber.com/foundation.
About Upcountry Fiber Foundation
The Upcountry Fiber Foundation (UFF) is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as the philanthropic arm of Upcountry Fiber. Founded in Spring 2022 by Upcountry Fiber’s two governing organizations: Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and WCFIBER, UFF established a permanent endowment that will enrich the lives of residents in the Upcountry Fiber and Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative service territories. UFF will proudly offer financial support to philanthropic organizations that serve the community in the interests of education, youth, culture, arts, health, and human services.
About Upcountry Fiber
Upcountry Fiber is a high-speed fiber internet provider to the five counties of Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg. Established in Fall 2020, Upcountry Fiber is the product of a partnership between Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and WCFIBER, a subsidiary of West Carolina Telephone Cooperative. Founded by organizations created to electrify and connect rural areas of South Carolina; decades later, Upcountry Fiber’s mission is to bridge the digital divide. Offering symmetrical internet speeds up to 1 Gbps over a fiber network, Upcountry Fiber has the fastest and most reliable high-speed internet in the area. To learn more about Upcountry Fiber, visit us at www.UpcountryFiber.com.