Riley Institute executive director Don Gordon stands alongside Reading Partners employees, one of whom is w

2021 WhatWorksSC Award Celebration

11th Annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC® Award Celebration

Presented by the Riley Institute

Tuesday, November 9, 2021
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. via Zoom

The Riley Institute celebrated three exceptional programs making a difference in South Carolina public education during the 11th annual WhatWorksSC Award Celebration on November 9, 2021. Reading Partners South Carolina was announced the winner by former U.S. Secretary of Education and former S.C. Governor Dick Riley and awarded a $10,000 cash prize. Finalists Charleston Promise Neighborhood and Bridges to a Brighter Future were also recognized and received $1,000 each.

Meet our 2021 WhatWorksSC finalists

Bridges to a Brighter Future (Greenville) provides long-term, need-based support to promising high school students who live in communities that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education and helps them on their path to college. Among the students who participate in the program, 92 percent enter college or the military directly after high school, compared to the national average of 54 percent among students from a similar background.

Charleston Promise Neighborhood (Charleston) partners with under-resourced early-learning and elementary schools in Charleston to co-design strategies to improve academic and social outcomes for students and their families through school-day supports and afterschool programming.

Reading Partners South Carolina (Charleston) places community volunteers in low-income schools to help children master basic reading through individualized one-on-one tutoring. By working to improve reading comprehension, reading fluency, and sight-word reading, the program helps put participants on track to read on grade level by the end of third grade.

Award Celebration Featuring

The Hon. Miguel Cardona

The Hon. Miguel Cardona is the twelfth United States secretary of education. He previously served as the commissioner of education in Connecticut, focusing his efforts on building equity and increasing student access to technology. Secretary Cardona has two decades of experience as a public school educator and began his career as an elementary teacher.

The Hon. Molly Spearman

The Hon. Molly Spearman has been the South Carolina superintendent of education since 2015. She spent 18 years as a public school music teacher and an assistant principal. Superintendent Spearman also served four terms as a state representative and six years as the South Carolina Department of Education’s deputy superintendent.

The Hon. Dick Riley

The Hon. Dick Riley is the former South Carolina governor (1979-1987) and United States secretary of education (1993-2001) and is senior partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and its affiliate, EducationCounsel. In 2009, TIME named him one of America’s Top 10 Best Cabinet Members.

Many thanks to our generous sponsors

Thanks to the generous support of the following organizations, we are able to award $10,000 to the winner and $1,000 to each of the finalists:

The event is also made possible by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee for its material help, as well as South Carolina ETV for producing the videos featuring our finalists.