Tribute to Bill White

The Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman staff were profoundly saddened upon hearing about the passing of Bill White, Chairman of the Board of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and namesake of the Institute’s White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship. We are deeply grateful to Bill and the Mott Foundation. We celebrate his life and honor a man who cared tremendously for kids and their families.

The Mott Foundation under Bill’s leadership and now under Ridgway White has worked and is working tirelessly to help children in poverty find ways out, and supported high-quality afterschool and expanded learning opportunities across the United States. Together with then Secretary of Education Dick Riley and Chief Counselor Terry Peterson, Bill White helped create a vision for federally supported 21st Century Community Learning Centers across the United States. Since 1998, when White, Riley, and Peterson crafted their vision on the White House lawn, these 21st Century programs have grown over the years to expand opportunities and support for over 30 million children across the country during the afterschool and summer hours.

The Mott Foundation is critical in providing crucial technical assistance, professional development and leadership support for the afterschool and community learning movement. The White Riley Peterson 10-month intensive Fellowship aims to develop state-level policy leaders for afterschool. The Director of the Fellowship, Cathy Stevens said, “the 122 White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows across the country are so proud of having this title and will work to carry Bill’s legacy into the future along with the many others around the globe whom he touched.”
“Bill White was one of our country’s leading advocates for youth, and Ridgway is following in his footsteps. Their leadership has made a positive difference in the lives of thousands upon thousands of American children and families every year for many, many years. With grand support from state afterschool networks and the Afterschool Alliance – which Bill, Ridgway and the Mott Foundation also promoted – critical afterschool and summer learning and enrichment opportunities and community learning centers have been developed and expanded in thousands of underserved schools and neighborhoods across America.  

Dick Riley, former US Secretary of Education and former SC Governor

“Bill is undoubtedly one of the great philanthropic leaders of our time. Collaborating with many partners, Bill and now Ridgway White and the Mott Foundation are helping us achieve big systems change with field engagement as an important part of the work. So, our work today is both top down and bottom up. As a result, there is a growing infrastructure on which to build. We all must take a moment to think about how to build further on this infrastructure, including strengthening and growing the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and never forget Bill’s passion for helping young people to achieve their highest potential.”

Terry Peterson, PhD, Co-Chair, National Afterschool Alliance Board
Please see below for some tributes to Bill from the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship:

“Bill White’s legacy and commitment to afterschool and expanded learning continues through the White-Riley-Peterson Fellows program at Furman University. All the faculty, staff, and 100+ fellows involved in the program feel a profound sense of responsibility to build on what he began  creating policies that ensure all young people will have access to high-quality afterschool and summer programs.”

Ron Fairchild, President & CEO, Smarter Learning Group

“Bill White not only helped initiate a funding stream for afterschool and summer, he set fire to a movement. To have a partner from the funding community with this level of foresight, stamina, and commitment is both appreciated and laudable. His unwavering commitment, not just to the statewide networks, but to providers and youth is felt in every state in this country and will be felt for years to come. I am proud to be a White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow.”

David Beard, Policy & Advocacy Director, School’s Out Washington

“Being a part of the inaugural class of White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship was a great honor. After meeting Bill White, I had a greater understanding of what the fellows were charged with – carrying on the legacy. The fellowship embodies characteristics of all three: White, Riley, and Peterson. Mr. White had the foresight to not only provide technical assistance to the federal 21CCLC program, but to create a network of Networks that could influence policy and practice. Through the creation of the Statewide Afterschool Networks, he forever altered the course of the out-of-school time. His legacy helps thousands of children and families daily. It is our responsibility as White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows to carry the torch Bill lit, illuminating the way for others to follow and continue to support his vision.”

Ken Anthony, Ed. D., Director of Professional Development and Research

“Bill White paved the path for afterschool advocates across the nation. His leadership and efforts improved the lives of so many children and families and continue to do so today. I am humbled and honored to be a part of his legacy as a White-Riley-Peterson fellow and will continue to strive to follow in his footsteps – working to ensure that all children have access to high quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities.”

Katie Landes, Director, Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network

“To carry the name of Mr. William S. White as a White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow, is a great honor and privilege. I am most humbled to represent the name and legacy of Mr. White who is held in such high esteem for his life-long work in serving children and families. In my own work, I aspire to the expectations set by his worthy example, to serve those that deserve a better quality of life.”

Ebony D. Grace, M.F.T., Director of Partnerships and Quality Initiatives, NJSACC: The Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities
To read the Mott Foundation’s Statement:

To watch a seven-minute video made in September to celebrate Bill’s five decades of philanthropic leadership:

To read Terry Peterson’s blog post about Bill’s life and contribution to the field: