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South Carolina Department of Education Partners with Riley Institute to Invest $1.3 Million in New Afterschool and Summer Learning Leadership Program

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and The Riley Institute at Furman University announced the South Carolina Afterschool Leaders Empowered (SCALE) program to prepare and grow leaders who are working to address the academic impact of COVID-19 through summer and afterschool learning programs. 

"As schools and districts work to expand and establish summer and afterschool learning programs across South Carolina in an effort to address the academic impact of COVID-19, it is imperative that these programs have high quality leaders at the helm who will ensure the needs of each student is being met," said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. "The Riley Institute has demonstrated their ability to help grow these leaders and we are excited to support the SCALE program and work that lies ahead."

Funding for the SCALE program comes from the $211 million set aside for SCDE from the more than $2 billion that came to the state through the American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The remainder of the funds go to school districts across the state.

“Evidence shows high-quality afterschool and summer learning improve student achievement, life skills, and mental health, while helping working families keep kids safe in those afterschool hours,” said Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “We’ve seen these kinds of positive impacts through our national work in the field over the past ten years and are looking forward to helping afterschool leaders right here in South Carolina maximize their programs and outcomes,” he said.

SCALE will convene a diverse cohort of 20 emerging summer and afterschool learning leaders each year for three years. Participants will be leaders who work in school districts or are members of community organizations that are partnering with school districts to provide evidence-based afterschool and summer learning to students who are in need of additional support outside of the normal school day. 

SCALE will be a hybrid in-person and virtual educational experience that begins with a weeklong intensive residential learning experience on Furman University's campus in February 2022. The program continues through monthly webinars as well as visits to nationally recognized summer learning programs and culminates in a capstone project related to afterschool or summer learning. Funding provided by the SCDE will cover all aspects of the program including travel expenses incurred by selected participants. 

The program planning and curriculum design for SCALE will be informed by a national and statewide advisory group consisting of experts representing the Afterschool Alliance, South Carolina Afterschool Alliance, multiple school districts, and leaders of top state and national summer and afterschool programs. 

The Riley Institute is now accepting applications for the first cohort of SCALE. Applications are due December 8. Those interested should visit for additional information and to apply.