The Riley Institute Selects Inaugural Cohort for Statewide Afterschool Leadership Initiative

Katie Quine
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Riley Institute at Furman University

SCDE Communications



South Carolina Afterschool Leaders Empowered equips afterschool and summer learning leaders in the state with the tools they need to grow and improve their programs.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Afterschool and summer learning leaders from across the state will gain new tools they need to grow and improve their programs through their participation in South Carolina Afterschool Leaders Empowered (SCALE), a new initiative offered by the Riley Institute at Furman University.

SCALE is offered in partnership with and funded by a $1.3 million grant from the South Carolina Department of Education as part of the monies the agency received from the American Rescue Plan to address the academic impact of COVID-19, particularly among youth in need of additional supports to complete unfinished learning.

“It is imperative that schools, districts, and nonprofits employ individuals that possess the knowledge and skills to put forth high quality summer and afterschool programs for students across our state,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “The members of the first SCALE cohort will be equipped to do just that, and I look forward to seeing them go forth and do great work in the communities they serve.”

Twenty-one leaders were selected for the inaugural cohort. They represent nearly a third of the state’s school districts, a variety of organizations, and a mix of rural, suburban, and urban areas.

Taking place over the course of 10 months, SCALE offers a curriculum that touches on topics such as school-community partnership development, program sustainability, and youth mental health and is led by national and local afterschool and summer learning leaders. In addition to convening on Furman’s campus for a weeklong intensive and participating in monthly webinars, members of the cohort will take a field trip to a nationally-acclaimed summer learning program and work on a capstone project related to afterschool or summer learning.

High-quality afterschool and summer learning programs have been shown to improve student achievement, life skills, and mental health, all while helping working families keep kids safe. For more than a decade, the Riley Institute has conducted work in the afterschool field at the national level.

“Inspired by the impact we’ve made through our national afterschool policy fellowship, we’re eager to help strengthen and expand access to phenomenal programs that are already in place right here at home,” said Amy Keely, SCALE director. “In doing so, the Riley Institute is advancing its goals of creating greater opportunity for students and their families in South Carolina.”

Members of the 2022 SCALE cohort are:

  • Kerry Abel (Columbia, SC) Coordinator of Dropout Prevention, Richland County School District One
  • Stachia Bennett (North Charleston, SC) Operations Director, Kids on Point
  • Kristina Brooks (Moncks Corner, SC) Childcare Program Manager, Berkeley County School District
  • Shelby Broomfield (Barnwell, SC) Program Director, Dreams Imagination & Gift Development Program (DIG)
  • Etta Carter (Loris, SC) Adult Education Director/Afterschool Program Founder, Finklea High and Loris Training Schools Alumni Association
  • Kimberly Fields (Seabrook, SC) Career Development Facilitator, Whale Branch Early College High School
  • Starr Jordan (Charleston, SC) Director of Summer and Afterschool Education, Engaging Creative Minds
  • Katherine King (Greenville, SC) Teacher, Sevier Middle School
  • Omoro King (Darlington, SC) Director of Elementary Education, Darlington County School District
  • Gerri McConnell (Ware Shoals, SC) Teacher, Waterloo Elementary
  • Debra McCord (Williston, SC) Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Williston County School District
  • Kim Mogan (Greenville, SC) Executive Director, Girl Up Greenville
  • Eddie Peeples (Walterboro, SC) Assistant Principal, Colleton County School District
  • Shaquité Pegues (Bennettsville, SC) Director of Ella Baker Leadership Development/ Senior Program Associate, Children’s Defense Fund
  • Terri Prince (Columbia, SC) District Coordinator for Save the Children, Project Director of 21st Century Programs, Orangeburg County School District – Cope District Office
  • Jeff Robinson (Moore, SC) Music Outreach and Service Learning Coordinator, SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities
  • Harold Sanders (Moncks Corner, SC) 21st CCLC Program Officer, Office of Expanded Learning, Charleston County School District
  • Ally Schachner (Piedmont, SC) Childcare Director, YMCA of Easley, Pickens, and Powdersville
  • Nicholas Washington (Columbia, SC) Program Director, Original Six Foundation
  • Rasheeda White (Rock Hill, SC) Area Director, Boys & Girls Club of York County
  • Toiya Witherspoon (Lancaster, SC) Director, Kingdom of God Church International

To learn more about SCALE, visit or contact Keely at

About the Riley Institute at Furman University

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, hosting expert speakers to broaden perspectives on critical issues, 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. Learn more at