Carolina Studios was formed in 2001. Its founders had a shared passion for music and a deep concern for Charleston’s at-risk youth. They realized that young people could describe their experiences through music and song creation, offering a great opportunity for to express themselves. The program could become a vehicle for youth to grow and develop in a fun and safe environment. The children would be encouraged to develop their potential through the exploration of digital recording, digital photography, videography, and graphic arts. Furthermore, the children would be able to develop core computer skills and behavioral skills needed for their ongoing education and their future careers.
In February 2002, Carolina Studios was granted its formal status as a registered 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Since 2002, Carolina Studios has served to provide a safe after-school environment during the school year, as well as a full-day environment during the summer months.
The program attracted Mark Bryan, the lead guitarist and founding member of Hootie and the Blowfish, who later became the Board’s Chairman. In 2007, Carolina Studios forged a relationship with The Boys and Girls Club whereby it could permanently locate a studio in the club’s Mary Street location in downtown Charleston.
Over the years, Carolina Studios has developed a contemporary curriculum that is productive and stimulating. In January of 2009, Carolina Studios a new brand and identity for the organization that would help people easily recognize the organization.
In December of 2009, Carolina Studios received the Innovative Programming Award from the Recreational Arts and Programming Branch of the South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association. The award was presented by the Executive Director of the SC Recreation and Parks Association at the Charleston City Council meeting at City Hall on Broad Street on December 15th at 5:00pm. This award is given annually to an organization that demonstrates exceptional innovation in design, presentation, and implementation in the parks and recreation field in South Carolina. This award is contemporaneous with the massive progress the organization has made in 2009.
In 2010, Carolina Studios was asked to attend the 2010 Afterschool Alliance conference in Washington, D.C. Upon this news, students were asked to perform in a small competition, and the two winners went to D.C. They performed at the conference and even met federal and state legislators, including Senator Lindsay Graham.
In 2011, Carolina Studios established a social media presence with a new blog, new Facebook & Twitter accounts, and “Song of the Month” at www.carolinastudios.net. The Song of the Month profiles a Carolina Studios student (or group of students) with their latest song.
Also in 2011, Carolina Studios launched its first ProAm Jam celebrity golf tournament and concert in conjunction with the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island.
In 2012, Carolina Studios teamed up for the inaugural Denny Hamlin & Mark Bryan Celebrity Pro-Am Jam Hosted by Student Transportation of America Education Foundation. Combining the worlds of music and racing, Denny & Mark invited some of the biggest names in golf, music, racing, entertainment and sports. The event was again hosted at the Daniel Island Club located in Charleston, South Carolina. Proceeds of the event benefited The Denny Hamlin Foundation, Carolina Studios, and The Student Transportation of America Education Foundation.
And last, but not least, Carolina Studios implemented its full-service mobile studio, thanks to a very generous donation by Student Transport of America. The mobile studio ran a number of successful test visits to various schools in the end of 2011, and even was in the Charleston Christmas Parade! Now, with this mobile unit, the program has been able to reach far more students than ever before.