Frieda R. Mitchell received national and international recognition for her work in child care reform and civil rights. Born in Sheldon, S.C., her parents were farmers. There was no school bus transportation for African-American children, so Mitchell and her three siblings could not attend the segregated public high school in Beaufort. Her parents took on extra jobs to send their children to private school. The only option beyond elementary school was Mather School, a private boarding school for girls and now the site of the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s Beaufort Mather Campus.
Mitchell studied business education and excelled. She received a four year scholarship to Spelman College in Atlanta but her parents felt she should attend Allen University, an African Methodist Episcopal school supported by her church. Despite her parent’s hard work, she withdrew from Allen for financial reasons. Seeking opportunity, Mrs. Mitchell moved north. After seven years she returned home and accepted a position at a Beaufort County school.
Observing the dismal living conditions, lack of political savvy and civic responsibility of many of the residents in her community, she was determined to make a difference. She organized a massive voter registration campaign. Her efforts resulted in the unseating of a magistrate who had held the position for fifty years and in electing the first African American to Beaufort County Council. In 1965 she was the organizer and chairperson of the Beaufort County Education Community (BCEC), the central force for school desegregation. The committee’s efforts led to a landmark election in 1968 when Mitchell and Mrs. Agnes Sherman were the first African Americans elected to a school board in South Carolina.
As co-director of a community development project at Penn Community Services Center, Mrs. Mitchell grasped the magnitude of poverty and neglect of many of the rural children. She addressed daycare needs for poor working families with emphasis on nutrition and health. In 1970 she convened an historic meeting. Thirty-seven pre-school programs, the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Black Child Development Institute and a number of other state agencies came together to organize United Communities for Child Development (UCCD), a private, non-profit coalition established to assist and promote community-controlled child care centers in South Carolina. Mitchell resigned from Penn Center and became the first Executive Director of UCCD. Within two years, the UCCD model was replicated in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi. The program received national attention and Frieda Mitchell became a central figure in major daycare policy discussions. By 1974, the UCCD was recognized as a valid method of funding legally constituted non-profit organizations throughout the state.
In 1992, she was recruited by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to conduct an international tour of five southern states in the U.S. and three South African townships – Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. On the tour were citizens from Mutare, Zimbabwe, who sought direction in establishing child care programs in their own country. In 1995, Mitchell retired from her position with UCCD. In 1996, she secured a $500,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the construction of a modern childcare facility that eventually would become part of the Beaufort County Head Start program.
In 2002, Mitchell secured an historic marker for the Sheldon Union Academy established by her father and other community men in 1893. The Sheldon Union Academy educated African American children from the rural Sheldon community for almost fifty years until Beaufort County consolidated its rural black schools.
Among her numerous awards are the Marian Wright Edelman Award for Service to Children and the prestigious John D. Rockefeller, III, Public Service Award. She was an honoree in the 1999 Bellsouth African American History calendar.
Mrs. Mitchell died October 15, 2020. She was 95 years old.
There are many ways to give to TCL.
Master Chef Video Cooking Series
Support the Culinary Institute of the South by purchasing the Master Chef Video Cooking Series featuring the Lowcountry’s best chefs.
The TCL Fund
The TCL Fund provides unrestricted support allowing the College to respond quickly to the needs that make a TCL education possible.
Each year, because of donors like you, approximately 100 students receive the TCL Scholarship. The TCL Scholarship recognizes financial need and merit in equal measure.
The Guarantors Program
TCL Guarantors Program helps deserving students who are faced with financial challenges to stay in school. It supports the traditional college student as well as the older student who is coming to TCL to learn a new skill and develop a new career.
The President’s Fund for Opportunity & Excellence
The Fund supports faculty, facilities, teaching supplies and instructional equipment—those priorities which make a quality education possible
Mather Legacy Society
The Mather Legacy Society recognizes donors who have included TCL in their estate plans; as a beneficiary of another type of planned gift; or who make a permanent gift of an endowment.
The Heritage Classic Foundation
Become a patron of Heritage Champions Fore Charity. The goal of this exclusive program is to increase the charitable dollars generated by the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, which provides support to community non-profits.
The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products through its website at AmazonSmile.com to the TCL Foundation. “Shopping with a Purpose” for TCL!
About the TCL Foundation
The Technical College of the Lowcountry Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization constituted to solely serve the Technical College of the Lowcountry. The Foundation’s federal taxpayer identification number is 57-0767384.
How the College Is Funded
The Technical College of the Lowcountry is a state-assisted, not state-supported community college. The College receives 18% of its operating budget from the State of South Carolina. The unmet balance comes from the tuition and fees charged to students. Affordable tuition is fundamental to the mission of community colleges. TCL sets tuition and fees to cover the real unmet cost of instruction. There is no additional revenue collected to enlarge programs or for new programs. Like community colleges nationally, TCL relies on the communities we serve for the support to sustain and grow academic programs, student support services and more.
Ways to Give
The TCL Foundation accepts contributions on behalf of the Technical College of the Lowcountry in a variety of ways including cash, check, credit card, securities, bequests and planned gifts.
- The easiest and quickest way is to use our secure online giving form through PayPal.
- If you would prefer to write a check, make checks payable to the TCL Foundation and mail to:TCL Foundation, PO Box 2614, Beaufort, South Carolina 29901
For gifts of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, notify the broker or bank that you intend to electronically transfer the funds to the college. Prior to the transfer, alert the college by calling 843-525-8214 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make the transfer, contact: Greg Cherewko, Dividend Asset Capital, Account Name: Technical College of the Lowcountry, Inc., Phone: 843-645-9700, Email: email@example.com