On May 15, 2014, Schools That Can presented its inaugural Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards to 2 school leaders, 1 teacher, and 1 student from the STC network.


“All of us wish at times we lived in a more tranquil world but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

– RFK, May 6th, 1961

STC schools are full of transformational stories, and the 2014 RFK Urban Education Award Honorees were chosen based on their ability to turn adversity into opportunity.

Kate Kennedy, granddaughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, presented the inaugural awards at the Gala Dinner at the STC National Forum on Thursday, May 15th, 2014 in Harlem at the National Black Theatre. Robert F. Kennedy Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Education and Training Manager Karen Robinson also attended.

Fr. Edwin Leahy, Marisol Santiago, Kate Kennedy (Presenter), Frank Lozier, and Rachel Friedman.

School Leader Honorees

fr ed Father Edwin Leahy
Headmaster, St. Benedict’s Preparatory; Newark, NJ (Independent/Faith-Based)

“In 1972, a group of monks left the Newark Abbey, home to St. Benedict’s Prep, after closing the school because of the changing demographics of Newark. Father Edwin was chosen by his fellow monks to lead the school as it reopened and he has continued to lead it for 41 years… Under Father Edwin’s leadership and direction as Headmaster, St. Benedict’s has grown to over 550 students from around the region, the state, the country, and the world. The property has grown to 13 acres, including a dormitory, world class gym and pool complex, library, and fields.” – Erin Sweeney, St. Benedict’s Preparatory; Newark, NJ

frankFrank Lozier
Principal, Laurel Street Elementary School; Compton, CA (Public District)

“Frank Lozier could have ended up as another statistic summing up the plight of men of color. As a high school student in Oakland, he was homeless and essentially had to raise himself. Rather than letting his circumstances determine his destiny, Frank saw education as the one stable institution in his life: the path to forging his own future. Rather than seeking pity from his teachers, he sought out the most challenging classes that would put him on a path to college… As a principal, he has led his school to an Academic Proficiency Index to above 900 (out of 1000) for three consecutive years. His Compton students are performing on par with their more affluent peers in Beverly Hills.” – Roy Quinto, American Martyrs School; Los Angeles, CA

Teacher Honoree

rachel Rachel Friedman
Teacher, Civicorps Academy; Oakland, CA (Charter)

“In July 2013, things were heating up in Oakland, CA. The facts surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin and subsequent verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman sent our school into a tailspin. Students, staff, and the greater Oakland community were outraged and left feeling hopeless. At this same time the movie Fruitvale Station was being released. The situations of both of these young men hit home.

Searching for a way to validate the feelings of our school community and create positive outlets for their discontent with “the system”, Rachel guided our team in creating a Teach-In. During this 2-day event, entitled “From Injustice to Social Action”, students, staff, guest speakers, and members of the broader community came together to critically analyze the issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant murders.” – Tessa Nicholas, Civicorps; Oakland, CA

Student Honoree

marisol Marisol Santiago
5th Grader, P.S. 69X Journey Prep; Bronx, NY, (Public District)

“Before Marisol was enrolled in PS 69X, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer located in her legs. At a mere four years old, her diagnoses was grim and so were her chances. Immediately, she began a fight that would show not only her true character, but reveal a true hero underneath. After painful and aggressive treatments, Marisol lost her hair, her strength, but not her hope.

Whereas many adults in her situation would give up, run and hide, Marisol did not. She became her best advocate. Educating the children and adults around her, she spoke eloquently about the fight and the suffering that she not only experienced, but shared with so many who face the same challenges she did. She blossomed from a young child to a strong individual who inspired others and provided hope in all aspects of life.

Along with her mother, she founded Princess for a Lifetime, an organization that supports children who suffer from Cancer. She has shown determination and resilience in her own life and within school. Academically, Marisol has shone brightly and has never faded. She continues to absorbed knowledge and grow as not only a student but a person.” – Sheila Durant, P.S.69X Journey Prep; Bronx, NY

2014 Finalists

School Leader:

Ralph Bland
Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA); Detroit, Michigan
School Sector: Public Charter


Catherine Mendez
P.S. 69X Journey Prep; Bronx, NY
School Sector: Public District

Jennifer Tobin
LEARN Charter School, Campbell Campus; Chicago, IL
School Sector: Public Charter


Angeline Dishmey
P.S. 254 The Rosa Parks School; Queens, NY
School Sector: Public District

Jefferson Guaman
VOICE Charter School; Long Island City, NY
School Sector: Public Charter