Finalists Announced for the 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards

Newark, NJ (April 15th, 2019):  Teachers, school leaders, and students who have displayed “moral courage” and who share a commitment to bettering their school environments and communities have been named finalists for the 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards, presented by Schools That Can (STC) in partnership with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

The RFK Urban Education Awards honor a school leader, teacher, and student who embody the below quote from Robert F. Kennedy:

“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 which yields most painfully to change.”

The 2019 Awards included nominations from across STC’s regions, including Chicago, New York, Newark, and and Pittsburgh. Public district, public charter, faith-based, and independent schools were represented among nominees.

“One of our favorite times of year at STC is when we get to read the nominations for the RFK Urban Education Awards. It is such a wonderful and needed reminder of the countless examples of inspirational leaders across our network,” says Chief Operating Officer Casey Lamb. “This year was no different as we learned about student activists, teachers who go above and beyond to show their toughest kids deep love and and care, and school leaders who are working to change entire communities.”

2019 Awardees will be announced during Schools That Can’s National Forum, focused on Advancing Culturally-Relevant Real World Learning, on May 1st during the Schools That Can Annual Awards Luncheon. Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Cara Kennedy Cuomo will present the awards.

“I firmly believe that schools can be a springboard for almost everything we hope to achieve as a country – reducing economic inequalities, supporting women’s empowerment, overcoming poverty, and strengthening democracy,” says Kennedy Cuomo. “Schools are our greatest opportunity to instill the values we hope to embody as a society into the young minds capable of making that vision a reality – that is why it is so important to use schools to teach human rights, speak truth to power, and support the development of each individual child. The Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards Honorees are deeply inspiring, and their dedication and leadership encourage me to ensure I, too, am doing everything in my power for my community.”

Tickets are available at:


School Leaders

Maria Pilar Paradiso. Head of School, Link Community Charter School (Newark, charter, K-8)

Ian Rowe. CEO, Public Prep Network (NYC, charter, preK-8)

Alexa Sorden. Principal, Concourse Village Elementary School (NYC, district. K-5)


Mercedes Alvear. Transition & Alumni Coordinator, Namaste Charter School (Chicago, charter, K-8)

Damien Johnson. 11th Grade American Government Teacher, MC2 STEM High School (Cleveland, district, 9-12)

Lorrie Weaver. Special Education Teacher, Foundation Academy (Trenton, charter, K-8)


Anais Castro. 10th grader, South Bronx Community Charter School (NYC, charter, 9-11)

Marci Mazza-Fredley. 11th grader, City Charter High School (Pittsburgh, charter, 9-12)

Quinica Garrett. 12th grader, St. Martin de Porres High School (Cleveland, independent, 9-12)

About Schools That Can

Since starting with a small cluster of schools in 2005, Schools That Can (STC) has grown into the country’s largest cross-sector network of urban schools serving low-income communities. The network currently reaches more than 200 schools serving more than 80,000 students. STC works with school leaders, teachers and students to reimagine education through real-world learning that closes the opportunity and skills gap. By connecting leaders to powerful practices and models, developing teachers and engaging students in innovative STEM learning, STC is poised to make an important difference in the lives of American youth.

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has advocated for a more just and peaceful world since 1968. We work alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations. Whether in the United States or abroad, our programs have pursued justice through strategic litigation on key human rights issues, educated millions of children in human rights advocacy and fostered a social good approach to business and investment.