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Inaugural Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment awarded to Rob DeBlois, principal and founder of UCAP
By Chris Barnett / November 13, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

The inaugural Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation was awarded to Rob DeBlois, principal of the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program (UCAP) in Providence. 

With the award Mr. DeBlois received a $50,000 prize as a recognition of his decades-long commitment to many of Rhode Island’s most challenged, low-income, urban, and mostly immigrant, students who have a history of school failure. 

“Rob has demonstrated incredible drive to work with students in need – and their families – to get and stay on track both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Paula McNamara, daughter of Terrence and Suzanne Murray who along with her family established the Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation this past year. 

“Rob says that he was ‘born on third base’, the odds squarely in his favor from a young age, and he uses that platform of privilege to give back,” continued McNamara. “His work, and life, offer an example for others to follow. Our family is proud to recognize Rob for this commitment and vision.” 

Mr. DeBlois opened UCAP in 1989. It is an independent public middle school that partners with other school districts to identify at-risk students and helps them “catch up” with their grade and return to high school. Rather than focusing on time-in-seat, UCAP awards credit based on demonstrated knowledge and skills. The faculty help students learn at an accelerated pace while building self-esteem and character. Over the years UCAP has served more than 1,600 students.

“I am humbled by this recognition, and I thank the Murray family for this honor,” said Rob DeBlois. “The work continues, and while an award like this one provides great personal validation, I am also hopeful that it will encourage more people of influence to think of the kids we serve as their own. To treat them as their own, invest in them as they do their own children. ” 

The Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation will be awarded occasionally for “above and beyond achievement” by individuals or organizations that have proven themselves to be innovative and resourceful, implemented new ideas, or performed heroic deeds.

“We sometimes forget to celebrate the uniquely Rhode Island examples like the one Rob sets for us,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.  “We are grateful to the Murray family for trusting us with this gift to the community, and to working with us to acknowledge some of the many Rhode Islanders working to make lives better.” 

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