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Riley Institute Announces Finalists for Education Award

Last updated August 24, 2016

By Tina Underwood

Furman University’s Riley Institute has announced the three finalists for the 2016 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence. The winner of the award will be named at a luncheon Friday, Oct. 14, at 12:30 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, held during South Carolina Future Minds’ annual Public Education Partners (PEP) conference.

At the luncheon, Linda O’Bryon, President and CEO of South Carolina ETV, will host a conversation on stage with Charleston County Schools Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait and Spartanburg District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker. Former two-term Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education Dick Riley will present the award.

Presented in conjunction with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina State Board of Education, the award highlights innovative educational initiatives throughout the state.

The 2016 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC award finalists are:

Engaging Creative Minds, which improves learning and inspires creativity and innovation by integrating arts into the curriculum through in-school activities, professional development for teachers, and summer programming.

Healing Species, which uses rescued dogs to provide classroom lessons in compassion and violence prevention to elementary, middle and high school students in high poverty, high risk schools and incarceration facilities.

PULSE, which offers a variety of standards-aligned activities and services such as mentoring, summer reading camp, the Comer Schools Development Program, and accelerated learning opportunities to students in the Darlington School District.

Using program research and evaluation, maximization of resources, and sustainability as criteria, a committee of corporate leaders and education experts selected these finalists from more than 100 entries in the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC clearinghouse. Each finalist will receive a cash prize to grow their program and share information about it.

The WhatWorksSC award luncheon and the S.C. Conference of Public Education Partners (PEP) are open to the public. Register for the full day conference ($75 before October 2) or the lunch only ($25) at this link.

For more information about the award luncheon and the Riley Institute, visit or email  For more information about the PEP conference and South Carolina Future Minds, visit Information about the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSCsm clearinghouse can be found here.

About WhatWorksSC

The Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC clearinghouse showcases initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools.

WhatWorksSC ties strategies for world-class schools in South Carolina to promising in-state initiatives. The resource includes policy papers written by state leaders, case studies, and an evolving clearinghouse of initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools. WhatWorksSC is continually seeking information about outstanding education initiatives for inclusion in the clearinghouse, and welcomes ongoing nominations for consideration for succeeding years’ awards.

*Creation of WhatWorksSC was driven by “In Their Own Words: A Public Vision for Educational Excellence in South Carolina.” This study, the largest ever done in South Carolina and unique nationally, details key strategies for creating world-class schools in South Carolina. Derived from 3,000 focus group hours with more than 800 stakeholders, the study was conducted by the Riley Institute in 2005 and 2006 with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


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