The Riley Institute’s Center for Diversity Strategies is proud to have partnered with a variety of organizations over time to address barriers to social and economic progress through the lens of diversity.


Through a generous grant from Duke Energy and a grant matching program for Duke Energy employees, the Riley Institute launched ConnectionsSC in 2016. The program began in the wake of the 2015 Mother Emanuel church shooting in Charleston as a means for Duke Energy to invest in long-term, systemic work to promote diversity and civic participation in South Carolina.

Modeled after the Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative, ConnectionsSC brought educators and law enforcement officials together over the course of five months to participate in discussions and case studies designed to help them gain the tools needed to lead effectively in their increasingly diverse communities. Grouped together by school district, educator and law enforcement teams worked on capstone projects that benefited students and the community.

Two Connections SC classes were completed with 75 participants across 13 school districts throughout the state.

Diversity Recruitment Consortium

Accounting for diversity when building and retaining a talented workforce can spur innovation and creativity and offer a competitive advantage in national and global markets. The Riley Institute partnered with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the Greenville Chamber to bring organizations together with the goal of increasing the diversity of professional and executive talent in South Carolina-based organizations. Valuable knowledge, new connections, and a greater understanding of workforce challenges and opportunities at play in the state came out of this consortium.

Emerging Diversity Leaders

A generous grant in 2016 from the Duke Energy Foundation made it possible for The Riley Institute to expand its existing Emerging Public Leaders program to include a second cohort of students and add a focus on diversity to its curriculum. It was a nine-month diversity-focused service leadership experience for rising high school seniors. The programs were offered free of charge to participants and began with a week-long summer program convening on the Furman campus. The new curriculum taught participants how to lead ethically and in diverse settings, engage in the community, analyze critical issues, communicate and present effectively, and plan for the implementation of a community service project.

Health Professions Advisory Council

Developed in cooperation between The Riley Institute and the University of the South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, the DLI Health Professions Advisory Council advised and assisted in the establishment of diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency agendas and the emerging strategic diversity plan for USCSOM-Greenville.

The vision of the SC DLI Health Professions Advisory Council was to help establish USCSOM-GREENVILLE as a medical community where a broad range of diversity dimensions are highly valued, present, and reflective of South Carolina’s demographics and cultural affinities.

All members of the Council were alumni of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative and represented a variety of statewide community stakeholders.