NEW YORK: Two school leaders, a teacher, and student have been named 2015 recipients of the 2nd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards, announced May 18th during Schools That Can’s 10th Annual National Forum at Loyola Marymount University School of Education in Los Angeles.

“The 2015 awardees defy the status quo,” said Michael Druckman, Executive Chair of Schools That Can, “and we must shift the education dialogue to celebrate their bravery and learn from them as models of success.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. presented the awards on behalf of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (formerly the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, or RFK Center) in partnership with Schools That Can, the largest U.S. network of urban schools from across education sectors (district, charter, faith-based, and independent).

Awardees were chosen by RFK Human Rights as exemplars of the following quote from RFK’s Day of Affirmation speech, given to the University of Cape Town, South Africa on June 6th, 1966:

Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.


Ralph C. Bland
Co-Founder and CEO, New Paradigm for Education
Superintendent, DEPSA
Detroit, MI

“Despite the challenges many Detroit schools and communities face within inner city educational settings, Ralph’s moral courage has helped him and the staff at DESPA succeed in creating lasting change,” said Michael Druckman. “Schools That Can is grateful to learn from Ralph’s efforts as a model of success for cities facing similar challenges. We can undoubtedly say Ralph’s impact has spread beyond Detroit.”

Dr. Carolyn R. Wilder
Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter School
Inglewood, CA

“Carolyn has been dedicated to providing excellence in education for all students for over 40 years,” said Michael Druckman. “She truly believes all students can learn and has tirelessly strove to provide access to a quality education for students of all ages, from pre-K through adulthood.”

Jennifer Kager
Teacher and Learning Specialist
Robert Louis Stevenson School
New York, NY

“Stevenson students are from all socioeconomic backgrounds who struggle with social and emotional issues, and over the last thirteen years, Jenny has dedicated herself to reaching Stevenson students in new and innovative ways,” said Bob Cunningham, Principal of Robert Louis Stevenson School. “From creating Shakespeare productions with students who hadn’t experienced academic success in years, developing a yearly publication called A Foot in the Door which showcases the creative writing and artistic talents of the entire community, to integrating technology into the classroom in new and dynamic ways and then sharing her excitement with the faculty, Jenny never stops pushing herself to meet the needs of Stevenson students.”

Osiris Bell
Fifth Grade Student
Laurel Street Elementary School
Compton, California

“Osiris is a student whose moral courage fosters transformation in others because he is a role model for his peers. He is a high achieving student who embraces learning and shows the courage to be his own unique self each day. He puts his very best towards all of his work, which is not always a popular choice with students in his age group. Osiris also shows his ability to be a responsible leader as one of the lead technical support team members in his classroom.”

Learn more about the Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards, 2015 Finalists, and Schools That Can’s 10th Annual National Forum.

About Schools That Can
Schools That Can (STC) began in 2005 as a national network of high-performing and high potential urban schools (from district, charter, faith-based and independent sectors) to identify and recognize quality schools serving low-income students and share their practices to expand quality urban education. Now the nation’s largest cross-sector network of urban schools, with 147 high-performing and high-potential schools in 15 cities, STC also unites urban schools with leaders from higher education, innovative ed organizations, and industry. STC leaders work together to address the needs of each school and the national landscape, like increasing opportunities for real-world learning, building 21st century skills, and connecting education to employment (e2e). Learn more about Schools That Can at,, and on Twitter @SchoolsThatCan.