Winthrop University: Generous Gift Establishes Williams Family Multicultural Children’s Literacy Collaborative
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Generous Gift Establishes Williams Family Multicultural Children’s Literacy Collaborative

May 11, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The collaborative was established by a major gift donated by Winthrop University Board of Trustees member Gary Williams and his wife, Peggy. 
  • The program will offer literacy engagements for Rock Hill School District children and families and other community agencies.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA - The Williams Family Multicultural Children’s Literacy Collaborative will launch this fall and offer a variety of opportunities that promote literacy to preK-12 students from York County’s diverse community.

The collaborative was established by a major gift donated by Winthrop University Board of Trustees member Gary Williams and his wife, Peggy.

Throughout the year, the collaborative will offer literacy engagements for Rock Hill School District children and families and other community agencies. Professional authors and storytellers will host interactive workshops to enhance and expand children’s love of language. A children’s multicultural library will serve as a source of inspiration for bookmaking, digital literacy projects and storytelling dramatizations. 

The Collaborative will also function as a demonstration site for literacy instructional strategies such as read alouds, partner reading, shared reading, guided writing and mini-writing lessons.

Working to bring this vision to life are Richard W. Riley College of Education (COE) faculty members Erin Hamel and Bettie Parsons Barger. The Collaborative will be housed in Withers/W.T.S. Building, the home of Winthrop’s College of Education. Assistant Professor Mikale Kwiatkowski is leading a team of College of Visual and Performing Arts students to design an inspirational space that will encourage, promote and spark a love for literacy.

COE Dean Jennie Rakestraw said: “We are excited to see our vision to foster literacy learning and creativity through a collaborative, community-oriented project such as this. I am proud of our faculty who had the vision and the Williams family for making the dream come true,” she said.

Additionally, the Collaborative will extend support to the participants in the Macfeat Summer Literacy Camp for Emergent Bilinguals. Organizers will work with faculty, staff and students across the Winthrop campus, including Dacus Library, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the College of Education’s Instructional Technology Center and Macfeat Early Childhood Laboratory School.

Hamel and Barger said the Williams Family Multicultural Literacy Collaborative will provide resources dedicated to the exploration and celebration of literacy experiences that honor ethnic, cultural and social diversity. Through the Collaborative, students will grow as readers and writers, and discover new ways to explore and apply their literacy skills.

“Thank you Gary and Peggy Williams, and your family for enabling such an exciting opportunity for our Winthrop community and beyond,” the two added.

Gary Williams is founder and chairman of the board of Williams & Fudge Corp., a financial services firm in operation in Rock Hill since 1986.  He currently serves on Winthrop’s Board of Trustees and is a former member of the Winthrop University Foundation Board of Directors. The Rock Hill businessman and philanthropist received an honorary Winthrop degree in 2011 for his work as a champion of education in the community.

Williams and his wife, Peggy, established the Gary and Peggy Williams Fund for Literacy in 2010, which supported literacy tutoring clinics and contributed to the Macfeat Summer Literacy Camp for Emergent Bilinguals. Over the past two decades, the Williams family has contributed to a wide range of Winthrop academic and athletic programs.

Gary Williams is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the ETV Endowment of South Carolina. A past president of the ACA International, the association of Credit and Collection Professionals, he has served locally on numerous historical, community service, education and business organizations.

Peggy Williams has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Rock Hill School District Foundation, with the Children’s Attention Home Charter School and on the ChristmasVille Board of Directors.

The couple’s son, David, is president of Williams & Fudge, while daughter Alice serves as the firm’s director of foundation and community support. David and Alice, as well, represent the extension of Gary and Peggy Williams’ active community involvement, transformative philanthropy and devotion to family into the second generation.

For more information, contact Bettie Parsons Barger (bargerbp@winthrop.edu) and Erin Hamel (hamele@winthrop.edu).

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Last Updated: 10/4/21