Skip to Content

Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award 2020

Spartanburg First Steps/Quality Counts

Tenth Annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSCTM Award

A virtual celebration of successful public education initiatives in South Carolina

Tuesday, October 6, 2020
12:30 - 1:30 p.m. via Zoom

View sponsors of the Tenth Annual Dick and Tunky Riley What WorksSC Award for Excellence

Quality Counts, a Spartanburg First Steps program, received the 2020 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award during a virtual celebration of South Carolina public education presented by Furman University’s Riley Institute. Former U.S. Secretary of Education and two-term S.C. governor Dick Riley announced the winner and presented the award. The award is named for Riley and his late wife, Ann “Tunky” Riley, a devoted teacher and passionate advocate for quality public education for all children.

“We want our legislators, our friends, our colleagues, and our families to know that there’s a lot of good happening right here in South Carolina education,” Riley said. “Public education is critical to our democracy, and it takes all of us working together to keep it strong.”

2020 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award Finalists: 

As the top award recipient, Spartanburg First Steps/Quality Counts (Spartanburg) received $10,000. Spartanburg First Steps/Quality Counts creates high-quality learning environments and promotes best practices for teachers that help prepare students for success in school and life. By providing targeted professional development, mentorship and coaching, and nationally recognized assessments, Quality Counts lays the foundation for continuous improvement. Learn more about Spartanburg First Steps/Quality Counts.

The two finalists, Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC) Program (Columbia) and Monaview MAGIC Initiative (Greenville), each received a $1,000 award.

Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC) Program (Columbia) recruits, prepares, and promotes the retention of quality teachers in critical-need schools and districts in South Carolina. The Columbia College program offers an innovative certification alternative that incorporates a year-long teacher residency with compensation, mentoring, and graduate coursework. Learn more about the APEC Program.

Monaview MAGIC Initiative (Greenville) fosters social, emotional, and educational growth in students by equipping families with resources and knowledge that help them thrive. Monaview Elementary School students enrolled in the program receive targeted math and reading instruction, are taught organizational skills, and participate in activities that promote overall wellbeing. Learn more about the Monaview MAGIC Initiative.

These programs were selected from a large pool of entries based on effectiveness as evidenced by their research, resource allocation, and sustainability by a committee of corporate leaders and education experts.The winner will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize and the two finalists will receive $1,000 each. All will become members of the Riley Institute's WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse, an online resource that serves as a repository of high-quality, data-supported public education initiatives for improving South Carolina's public schools. Past and future winners and finalists will also be featured on SCETV’s website.

Our featured speaker was John L.S. Simpkins, the former associate director of the Riley Institute. John has played a leadership role in advancing an equity agenda for women and people of color in the South. He is currently president of MDC, a non-profit that uses research, consensus-building, and programs that connect education, employment, and economic security to help communities foster prosperity by creating an “infrastructure of opportunity”—the aligned systems and supports that can boost everyone, particularly those who’ve been left behind, to higher rungs on the economic ladder. A constitutional law scholar and practicing attorney, Simpkins served as deputy general counsel for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2013-15 and general counsel for the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2015-16.

For program information, contact Cathy Stevens at 864.294.3265 or email 
For media information, contact Katie Quine at 864.294.3368 or email

Many thanks to our generous sponsors of the
Tenth Annual Dick and Tunky Riley What WorksSCTM Award for Excellence

This event is also made possible with support from the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.

Press Coverage

Furman University Press Release, Furman University Press Release