Scholarship: Wilson Riles Memorial Scholarship
About the Sponsor
This scholarship has been established in memory of Wilson C. Riles who believed in children. For more than 50 years, he developed and taught programs to help students succeed academically. “A commitment to children is an investment in the future,” he said.
Riles was superintendent of public instruction for the state of California from 1971 to 1983. He won three statewide elections by earning the respect and support of black and white voters. Much of his success has been based on his ability to mobilize community and government support for his programs.
His greatest accomplishment as superintendent was in implementing an early-childhood education program. It was so effective that it became a national model. Four U.S. presidents noticed his innovative programs, each of whom enlisted him as an adviser on national education issues.
In addition to his many awards he held nine honorary doctorates from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States. Riles was honored in 1973 with the Spingarn Medal, the highest award of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Riles’ advice to students as well as to community leaders was to “make a difference, make a contribution.” He believed that successful individuals have a responsibility to serve as role models to children. That dedication to sharing a knowledge of success and fostering an awareness of limitless opportunity lives on through this scholarship.