Overview of the history, launch, and work of the Wardlaw Institute.

Mr. John T. Wardlaw

Mr. John T. Wardlaw

Continuing A Legacy

John T. Wardlaw, long affiliated with Milliken and Company and later a successful entrepreneur, was a passionate passionate advocate for improving academic achievement across Spartanburg County, South Carolina and applied his professional expertise in data tracking to the academic achievement of K-12, school by school. In 1987, Mr. Wardlaw expanded his analysis to multiple indicators of community well-being: from cultural vitality to public health; the economy to education. His “Critical Indicators Project” has now expanded to become the “Spartanburg Community Indicators Project,” driving data-centered collective impact efforts county-wide.

The “Wardlaw Institute for Continuous Improvement” honors Mr. Wardlaw’s foresight, and drives forward his dream that data tracking can support continuous improvement in academic achievement. The Wardlaw Institute has been developed and is operated by the Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM), and is largely funded through his personal philanthropic legacy.

Training Opportunities


All workshops and training offered through the Institute are developed to support the outcomes focused work of the Spartanburg Academic Movement through the key learning stages of:

  • Kindergarten Readiness

  • Early Grades Reading

  • Middle Grades Math

  • College and Career Ready High School Graduation

  • Post-Secondary Enrollment

  • Post-Secondary Persistence and Completion

Participants will have the option to align their work with similar work happening throughout our community through SAM’s Collaborative Action Networks engaged in aligning community action and resources to improved outcomes in these pivotal learning stages.

Why CI?

Long known within the world of manufacturing, Continuous Improvement (CI) Science focuses on data driven process improvement toward improved outcomes: making the end result of action an improvement upon the last. It is a continual process. It has also been identified as a tool for improving processes within other types of work: that of schools, nonprofits, and community agencies. Laying data-driven improvement practices over multiple sectors within a community is the power behind collective impact. Training in process improvement is not about trying to change the mission of the work of a trainee. Rather, it provides tools for making that work more impactful, trackable, and sharable while highlighting its unique role as part of the collective impact effort. CI is the process and practice. Diffusing this throughout a community becomes collective impact. CI(2) is the scientific notation that indicates the impact expands, not as the sum of two efforts but the multiplication of them. 

programs For Educators

Embedding CI science in the unique human centered process of education has proven a key in shifting the learning dynamic from content focus to a uniquely child-centered focus. Knowing where a child is along a content continuum, and adjusting the process of teaching and learning to begin there, means progress that can be sustained, without gaps that form if a content only approach is followed. Teachers participating in training receive classroom appropriate process training that ultimately allows them to follow the Plan Do Study Act cycle with students. 

programs For Nonprofits and Community Service Providers

CI process training empowers those providing services to children and families in our community to do what they do best and to demonstrate their program impact in a way that can be communicated to others. Training embeds tracking of program outcomes into the processes used to deliver programs. By doing this, program delivery can be adjusted to continually improve outcomes toward program goals.