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About the Institute

The Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University


Leadership, Knowledge, Impact.

The Riley Institute at Furman broadens student and community perspective about issues critical to South Carolina’s progress. It builds and engages present and future leaders, creates and shares data-supported information about the state’s core challenges, and links the leadership body to those solutions to drive sustainable solutions.

Launched in 1999, the Institute is named for former South Carolina governor and former United States Secretary of Education Richard W. (Dick) Riley. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change.

Examples of how some of the Institute’s many programs fit into this “leadership, knowledge, impact” model are below. Please explore the menu bars above for information about the full range of programming. 


LEADERSHIP  The Institute cultivates leadership among Furman and other students through meaningful access to national and state leaders and through Advantage Scholars, the student Advance Team and student delegations to APEC. Through the Diversity Leaders Initiative and OneSouthCarolina, the Institute builds and partners with a statewide, cross-sector leadership body with a shared commitment to progress in the state. The Wilkins awards dinner recognizes excellence in bipartisan political leadership and civic leadership. The White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship teaches education leaders nationally how to drive policy in support of expanded learning opportunities. 


CREATING AND SHARING KNOWLEDGE  The Institute helps drive informed discussion of relevant and timely issues among students and community members. It brings state, national and world leaders to Institute symposia throughout the year to provide diverse perspective including the critical issues series; the annual Law and Society event, in partnership with the Charleston School of Law; and the three-week long StraightTalkSC summer speaker series, in partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Furman. The Institute creates knowledge around compelling policy issues connected to public education and diversity through original research and the synthesis of existing information and best practices to support the expansion of effective practices in South Carolina and nationally. It shares information through the WhatWorksSC clearinghouse, which links high-consensus findings from the Institute’s landmark Hewlett study to innovative programs already in place in the state. The Dick and Tunky Riley Award brings a spotlight to excellent education programs in the state. 


IMPACT  The Riley Institute engages its statewide leadership network to address challenges critical to the state’s progress through such initiatives as establishment of a network of college-access and STEM-focused New Tech schools. It improves afterschool opportunities for children across the country by teaching education leaders how to advocate for supportive policies. The DLI leadership network has helped build better communities through 285 community service projects, including creating safe summers for underserved children in Charleston, teaming with high school students in Summerton to break down racial barriers and foster service leadership, bringing bikes, mentorship and adventure to at-risk youth in the Upstate; and many more.

For information about the Riley Institute’s programs call Jacki Martin, director of Riley Institute operations, at 864.294.3578 or email

Press Coverage:

Riley Institute Moves South Carolina Forward: Greenville Business Magazine

Richard W. Riley: A Penny for His Thoughts: Greenville Business Magazine

Riley Institute Driving Social and Economic Progress: Read more

The Riley Institute, The Richard W. Riley Institute, OneSouthCarolina and OneSC are registered service marks