Skip to Content

Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award and Clearinghouse

Carolina Teacher Induction Program, 2019 WhatWorksSC Award Winner

Row 1 seated (l-r): Chris Scudder, Mackie Wilson, Shannon Rowe, Michael Medlin, Tamara Turner
Row 2 (l-r): Jon Pedersen, Thomas Hodges, Marie McGehee, Nicole Skeen, Jamie Hennessy, Erin Eigenbrot, Dick Riley, Sherry Whatley, Cindy Van Buren, Lisa Davis, Morgan Lee, Angela Adams, Cathy Stevens, Don Gordon

WhatWorksSC Award application

Know of an evidence-based public education program making a difference in the lives of South Carolina students? Applications are now open for The Riley Institute’s 2021 WhatWorksSC Award. Apply heredeadline is June 11, 2021.

Honoring highly effective education initiatives in South Carolina

The WhatWorksSCTM Award and Clearinghouse are dedicated to the memory of Ann “Tunky” Riley, a devoted teacher and passionate advocate for quality public education for all children. In South Carolina, Tunky Riley worked tirelessly alongside then-Governor Dick Riley to increase funding and support for public education, playing an instrumental role in the passage of South Carolina’s Education Improvement Act as she garnered grassroots support throughout the state. While first lady, she also created a South Carolina Partnership for Parent Involvement in Education. During Dick Riley’s eight years as United States Secretary of Education, she traveled extensively in support of his initiatives to improve academic standards, to make high-quality education more accessible for lower-income families, and to expand college grant and loan programs.

Each fall, the Riley Institute at Furman presents the annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence to an outstanding education initiative in South Carolina. Submissions are accepted each spring. In 2021, applications will be accepted from April 6 - June 11.

In 2019 the winner received $10,000 in prize money and each of the two finalists received $1,000.

Following the awards ceremony each fall, the winner and two finalists become members of the WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse. The programs in the clearinghouse have collected a robust set of local data demonstrating that they are improving student outcomes in the state.

Submission and selection process for the WhatWorksSC Award and Clearinghouse

Phase One: Submit an application for the WhatWorksSC Award

All submissions must have local data demonstrating effectiveness for South Carolina public school students. Applications from the education community and others around the state are strongly encouraged. As applications are received, Institute staff review the programs to determine initial eligibility for consideration for the award. Program design must be grounded in sound research and have collected robust local data demonstrating effectiveness. Submission guidelines can be found here or by clicking on the link in the left hand column.  

Phase Two: Narrowing the Pool

The Riley Institute’s CEPL staff closely analyzes all applications and based on the following criteria selects 8-10 programs/initiatives for consideration by the larger WhatWorksSC Awards Selection Committee:

  • As noted above, the development of the program/initiative must have been grounded in sound national research.
  • The program/initiative must have been in existence for at least one year.
  • A comprehensive evaluation must have been conducted and show convincing evidence of success and must illustrate the relevance and effectiveness of the program/initiative.
  • Program/initiative staff should provide additional information, including the maximization of scarce resources, partnerships with businesses and community, the leveraging of additional resources for support, sustainability, and/or the potential to replicate statewide.

Phase Three: Identifying the Winner

A confidential, nonpartisan selection committee consisting of five highly-regarded state and national education experts closely evaluates the eight to ten semifinalist programs, scoring them against a rubric designed to evaluate the above criteria.

See videos of the winning program as well as the finalists, and photos from 2011, 20122013, 201420152016, 20172018 and 2019!

Phase Four: Entry into the clearinghouse

The winner and two finalists for each year’s WhatWorksSC Award will be admitted into the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse. The WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse is a web-based resource for educators, students, the community and policy makers that identifies promising in-state initiatives and programs that are working for students in our state. 

WhatWorksSC is continually seeking information about exemplary education initiatives and welcomes ongoing nominations for consideration for succeeding year’s awards. Creation of WWSC was driven by the Hewlett Foundation-funded study “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.