The Riley Institute

The Riley Institute empowers emerging and established leaders—across sectors and throughout society—with the knowledge and tools to advance equity and drive social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond. We work to strengthen public education; promote the power of diversity to help teams, organizations, and communities thrive; and elevate informed, evidence-based approaches to critical public issues. In all it does, the institute is committed to nonpartisanship and a bias-free path to change.

Centers of Work


The Riley Institute was founded in 1999 at Furman University with the dual objectives of advancing social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond and providing unmatched opportunities for Furman students.

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Broadening perspectives around pressing contemporary policy issues, the Riley Institute hosts expert speakers and scholars on the university’s campus as well as across South Carolina. Hundreds of expert speakers have spoken at Riley Institute events since its founding in 1999.

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The Riley Institute’s Center for Diversity Strategies recognizes excellence in diversity leadership and equips leaders and community stakeholders with the tools needed to harness the power of diversity in their organizations and communities, drive positive change, and enhance the economic and civic vitality of South Carolina.

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The Institute’s research consultancy promotes evidence-informed practices and policies and supports entities that serve children and families across the state. It provides external research and evaluation services, serves as an evaluation partner, and helps organizations build strategic learning skills.

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The Riley Institute’s Center for Education Policy and Leadership supports and recognizes highly effective and innovative approaches to public education, from afterschool and summer learning to public school Montessori, that drive better and more equitable outcomes for all the people of South Carolina and beyond.

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For students wanting to become thought leaders, learning from one of the 20th Century’s top presidential cabinet members is not a bad place to start. The Riley Institute cultivates leaders among students and broadens perspectives about issues critical to progress in South Carolina and beyond.

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Public Education Blog

Evidence Matters | Professional Development: What Works

July 9, 2024 As we noted in our previous post, research has shown that professional development for educators is important for not only teachers’ continued professional growth, but also for teachers’ job satisfaction. However, not...

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Evidence Matters | Professional Development: Teachers As Students

July 8, 2024 Education—like many other professions—is ever changing. In the medical field, doctors are continually required to keep up with the newest developments in treatments available to their patients. In the legal profession, attorneys...

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Evidence Matters | Teacher Retention: It takes a Village

April 9, 2024 As we discussed in our previous two posts, collective teacher efficacy—or the belief among teachers in a school that they can positively influence student outcomes—is an important tool when it comes to...

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Latest Riley Institute News

A Mother’s Voice: Incarcerated parents record bedtime stories

While her mother serves a prison sentence, a 4-year-old girl tightly carries around a storybook, keeping it so close that her older sister can’t borrow it. There’s something special about the book. It has her...

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Turn90 Receives Riley Institute’s OneSouthCarolina Partners in Progress Award

FOR INFORMATION: Claudia Winkler Director of Marketing and Communications The Riley Institute at Furman University 864.294.3368; MAY 15, 2024 — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ### TURN90 RECEIVES RILEY INSTITUTE’S ONESOUTHCARLOLINA PARTNERS IN PROGRESS AWARD COLUMBIA,...

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Fox: Former Justice Shares Her Story

April 9, 2024 Former SC Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn addresses gender disparity in state judiciary at Furman "A Woman's Place" event. Learn more about her story in a segment produced by Fox. Watch the...

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