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289 Maria Salciccioli, an incoming graduate student in the Education Department’s Master's program in Urban Education Policy (UEP), was named the first recipient of the Ruth J. Simmons Urban Education Policy Scholarship

The Board of Overseers of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University (AISR) established the permanent, annual scholarship for UEP Master’s degree candidates in April 2012 to honor Brown's president and AISR board chair, who announced she would be stepping down after 11 years as university president at the conclusion of the academic year.  AISR is a national education policy research and reform support organization that focuses on improving conditions and outcomes for all students in urban K-12 public schools, especially those in underserved communities.

Prior to serving as the program coordinator at Houston-based Reasoning Mind -- a hybrid of online and face-to-face individual math instruction particularly targeted for students from economically disadvantaged communities -- Salciccioli was a DC Teaching Fellow, a program that trains professionals and recent college graduates to become high-impact teachers in schools serving high-need students throughout the Washington, D.C. area.  She also worked at Higher Achievement, a rigorous afterschool and summer academic program for D.C.-area middle school students from at-risk communities.  A Detroit native, Salciccioli is a 2009 graduate of Princeton University.  

“Maria epitomizes the personal and professional commitment to equity in education that is crucial to reform measures in our nation’s urban schools,” said President Simmons.  “I wish Maria well and look forward to following her progress at Brown and beyond.”   

The board’s resolution originating the scholarship noted: “Through President Simmons’s inspiration and enlightened leadership…and by her active participation in the Institute’s work, she affirmed Brown’s commitment to improving public education and translating educational research into effective practice.” Furthermore, it states that it will be awarded to a graduate student “who demonstrates the potential to personify President Simmons’s…abiding commitment to educational equity and social justice.“

President Simmons, who served as chair of AISR’s Board of Overseers since her installation as University president in 2001, urged AISR and the University’s Education Department to collaborate on a graduate program in the study of urban public education.  The UEP program launched in the summer of 2006 and has since conferred 75 Masters of Arts degrees. The tightly focused, 12-month academic curriculum, integrated with a nine-month internship, is designed to impart a set of core skills and competencies necessary for successful careers in urban education policy. The UEP program also provides a solid foundation for those anticipating advanced study in areas related to urban education policy.

“As a key initiative under President Simmons’s Plan for Academic Enrichment, the UEP program has established its prominence both on campus and in the larger education reform community,” said Brown Education Department Chair Kenneth K. Wong, founding director of the UEP program, and the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor in Urban Education Policy, a chair endowed by AISR in 2005.  “Graduates of the program are now leading urban school initiatives around the country.  We have created a unique national network of change agents and policy analysts.  The Ruth J. Simmons Scholarship will ensure a lasting legacy of President Simmons’s vision in education reform.”

When the scholarship was announced, Warren Simmons, executive director of the Annenberg Institute, stated:  “President Simmons has exemplified a steadfast pledge to create better futures for public school students in our most underserved communities.  Her vision and guidance have motivated us to strive for the transformation of traditional school districts into ‘smart education systems’ that develop and integrate high-quality learning opportunities in all areas of students’ lives.  We honor her for her remarkable contribution and impact on the next generation of education reformers.” 

Founded in 1993 with support from the Annenberg Foundation, AISR’s participation in the UEP program, from curriculum development to teaching to intern placement, gives UEP graduate students a unique opportunity to connect to the world of “practice” as they develop core skills via academic course work.