Distinguished Service Award Bestowed on AISR Senior Fellow

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PROVIDENCE – The College Crusade of Rhode Island presented Warren Simmons, senior fellow at Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR), with the Americo W. Petrocelli Distinguished Service Award at its annual Believe Breakfast on November 17. 

Named in honor of Dr. Petrocelli, who founded The College Crusade in 1989 and served as Rhode Island Commissioner of Higher Education from 1989 to 1995, the award is given annually to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the field of college readiness and success.

Dr. Simmons, AISR’s executive director for 16 years, has served as a member of the College Crusade’s board of directors since 1999, and as vice chair since 2005. 

“Warren has continuously demonstrated what it means to be a servant leader,” said Nick Donohue, president & CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “He is a leader who actively listens, puts equity front and center, and leads in the service of others. Warren’s contributions to the field of college and career readiness have ensured that more young people are prepared for success after high school, and prepared to contribute to their communities as informed citizens.”

Said Simmons: "What I've seen happen is that (our) young people were not prepared to deal with the racism, sexism, opposition and oppression in the way that my generation was, and they're at a loss for what to believe.  They were raised to think that they could succeed, and now they see the weakness of that. So as I reflect on the work ahead, it’s not simply political; it's not simply technical, and more research probably won't solve this problem, but it can be addressed through organizing social networks, and investing in leadership development, and by helping a new generation push us aside, necessarily so, to build the kind of world that we had hoped to build, but have failed in certain ways, and to build a kind of world that's more suited for their needs, aspirations and values than the ones we held so dear for so long."

1422 The Believe Breakfast celebrates the dedication of educators, state policymakers, business leaders, philanthropic organizations, community agencies, and families for supporting the academic and career success of Rhode Island’s young people. 

Donohue and Dr. Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University, served as honorary co-chairs for the event.

The College Crusade is a Providence-based nonprofit organization funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program, by the State of Rhode Island, and by private corporations, foundations, and individuals.  Its mission is to increase high school graduation, college and career readiness, and college completion for youth in Rhode Island’s low-income communities.

The College Crusade supports approximately 4,500 students in middle school, high school, and college each year. The organization enrolls sixth and seventh graders who attend public and public charter schools in Providence, Cranston, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket. From the time they join through grade 12, crusaders experience the steady, nurturing presence of caring adults and participate year-round in activities that focus on academic enrichment, social and personal development, career awareness and exploration, and preparation for college.  Crusaders who attend Rhode Island colleges also benefit from postsecondary transition and success services.  Since 2001, The College Crusade has awarded over $33 million in college scholarships to more than 4,200 students in the Ocean State.

 For more information, please visit www.thecollegecrusade.org.