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Riley Institute names semifinalists for award

The Riley Institute at Furman and South Carolina Future Minds have announced the ten semifinalists for the Third Annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSCsm Award for Excellence.

Presented in conjunction with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina State Board of Education, the award highlights outstanding educational initiatives throughout the state. Candidates were selected from more than 80 entries in the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSCsm clearinghouse.

The ten semifinalists are:

  • Black Boys of Distinction, serving students in Spartanburg Districts 1-7
  • Chester Park Elementary School of Inquiry, Chester County Schools
  • Communities in Schools at Duncan Chapel Elementary, Greenville County Schools
  • Francis Marion University Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children in Poverty, serving teachers statewide
  • Early College High School, Horry County Schools
  • Parents as Teachers SC, serving students in 37 districts statewide
  • Project Lead the Way, Orangeburg School District 4 – Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College Middle College Partnership
  • Reach Out and Read, serving students statewide
  • Summer Reading Loss program, serving students in 34 districts  across the state
  • Teacher Cadet Program, Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA), serving students statewide

From this group, three finalists will be selected by a confidential non-partisan panel and announced in October. Each finalist receives a cash prize to grow and share information about their program.

The finalists will be recognized and the top award will be presented October 16th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center as part of the SC Conference of Public Education Partners organized by SC Future Minds. The lunchtime awards ceremony is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased by visiting

For more information about the award, contact Scott McPherson at For more information about the SC Conference of Public Education Partners, visit Information about the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSCsm clearinghouse can be found here.

About WhatWorksSCsm

WhatWorksSC ties strategies for world-class schools in South Carolina to promising in-state initiatives. It includes policy papers written by state leaders, case studies, and an evolving clearinghouse of initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools. WhatWorksSC is continually seeking information about exemplary education initiatives for inclusion in the clearinghouse, and welcomes ongoing nominations for consideration for succeeding years’ awards.

Creation of WhatWorksSC was driven by “In Their Own Words: A Public Vision for Educational Excellence in South Carolina.” This study, the largest ever done in South Carolina and unique nationally, details key strategies for creating world-class schools in South Carolina, derived from 3000 focus group hours with more than 800 stakeholders. It was conducted by the Riley Institute in 2005 and 2006 with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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