Public Education Partners’ Make Summer Count Program Named Finalist for Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award

Winner to be announced October 24 in Columbia

Greenville, S.C. – Make Summer Count has been selected as one of three finalists for the 2017 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award.  The annual award presented by the Riley Institute and South Carolina Future Minds celebrates education initiatives improving the lives of students across South Carolina.

Public Education Partners’ Make Summer Count (Greenville County) combats summer reading loss by encouraging students and families in 29 high-need public elementary schools to remain engaged in reading through the summer by providing students with free, new, self-selected, high-interest books and hosting school-based Family Reading Nights.

"Make Summer Count is a fantastic example of Public Education Partners' work of identifying barriers to student success and collaborating with community stakeholders to bust those barriers,” said Dr. Ansel Sanders, President and CEO of Public Education Partners. “Summer reading loss is a debilitating phenomenon for thousands of Greenville County students. PEP's Make Summer Count program, in partnership with Greenville County Schools, Scholastic, Inc., and hundreds of local investors, definitively helps eliminate this loss: in 2016, 78% of 3rd-5th grade students who participated in Make Summer Count either maintained or increased their reading levels over the summer. This is great news for kids, teachers, schools and the community we serve!"

A committee of corporate leaders and education experts selected the finalists from more than 100 entries in the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse – a repository of resources that 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.

As a finalist, Make Summer Count will receive a small grant for enhancement of the program or consulting with other schools, districts and organizations interested in its replication.

The winner of the award will be announced by former two-term Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education Dick Riley at a celebration luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 12:30 p.m., at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The award is named for Secretary Riley and his late wife, Ann “Tunky” Riley, a dedicated teacher and passionate advocate for quality public education.

“The finalists this year show that there are dedicated teachers in our public school system working every day, even after school and through the summer break, to improve the lives of students in South Carolina,” said Secretary Riley.  “I am thrilled to honor and celebrate the effectiveness of these passionate educators and their programs with the WhatWorksSC award.”

The celebration luncheon is open to the public, and individual registration is $25.  For more information on the event and the other finalists, visit

About Public Education Partners

Public Education Partners (PEP) collaborates with community partners to introduce innovative programming in schools and deepen connections between schools and the community in an effort to strengthen public education and student achievement in Greenville, SC. PEP is Greenville’s only independent non-profit solely dedicated to investing in and improving public education.