The Riley Institute

Named for former U.S. Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Governor Dick Riley, the Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, broadening student and community perspectives on critical issues, hosting expert speakers, supporting public education, and creating knowledge through community solutions-focused research. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach 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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Latest Riley Institute News

Clemson University Teacher Residency Program wins Riley Institute statewide award

FOR INFORMATION: Katie Quine Marketing and Communications Manager The Riley Institute at Furman University 864.294.3368; OCTOBER 25, 2022 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CLEMSON UNIVERSITY TEACHER RESIDENCY PROGRAM WINS RILEY INSTITUTE STATEWIDE AWARD The program was...

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The Baltimore Sun: Summer learning program in Baltimore ‘tremendously innovative and effective’

September 29, 2022 Fellows of the South Carolina Afterschool Leaders Empowered (SCALE), a program of the Riley Institute, traveled to Maryland this summer to learn about the art-integration approach developed for the Summer Arts for...

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Three Public Education Programs Named Finalists for Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley to announce winner of the $10,000 award at a celebratory luncheon honoring the finalists on October 25.

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