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Riley Institute announces winner of Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award

Make Summer Count, a program of Public Education Partners in Greenville that combats summer learning loss, has won the 2017 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence.

The Riley Institute at Furman University and South Carolina Future Minds presented the award to Make Summer Count on Oct. 24 during the WhatWorksSC luncheon in Columbia.  Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Dick Riley presented the award, which is given annually to an education initiative improving the lives of students in South Carolina.

Make Summer Count aimed to prevent the summer loss of academic skills by encouraging students and families in 29 higher-needs public elementary schools to remain engaged in reading through the summer by providing free and new books to take home for summer reading and by hosting 23 Family Reading Nights. The program partners with Greenville County Schools and Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company.

As the top award recipient, Make Summer Count received $5,000 to support its ability to share its story and continue to expand throughout South Carolina. In addition, $1,000 was awarded to each of the two finalists—Camp iRock, a free summer camp in Pickens County with the goal of minimizing summer reading loss by promoting literacy and improving attitudes about learning among below grade level readers; and Innovate! at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School in Greenville, which helps at-risk children by providing academic instruction, creative teaching, mentoring, and various enrichment opportunities year-round.

“South Carolina sets the example in so many good ways — we just need to do a better job of talking about it. We honor and celebrate these three programs today for improving the lives of students across our state,” said Riley.

A panel of judges not affiliated with the Riley Institute selected the three finalists from the more than 100 entries in the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC clearinghouse, an online tool that showcases initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools. More information about the three programs can be found online here.

The Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award is named for Secretary Riley and his late wife, Ann “Tunky” Riley, a devoted teacher and passionate advocate for quality public education for all children.

The award presentation was sponsored by Elliot Davis, the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA), the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA), the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (SCEOC), South Carolina ETV, and the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA).

For more information about the WhatWorksSC Award and the WhatWorksSC clearinghouse contact the Riley Institute at 864-294-3546 or email

Last updated October 26, 2017
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director