Rob DeBlois, principal of the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program, has received the inaugural Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment in recognition of his decades long commitment to Rhode Island’s most challenged, low-income and mostly immigrant students.
“Rob has demonstrated incredible drive to work with students in need ,” said Paula McNamara of the Murray Family Foundation. The foundation was founded by Paula McNamara's parents, retired banker Terrence Murray and his wife, philanthropist Suzanne Murray.
The $50,000 award is administered by the Rhode Foundation, where the Murrays established the award.
DeBlois opened the UCAP in 1989, as an independent, public middle school that works with school districts to identify at-risk students, help them catch up with their classmates and return to high school. Rather than focusing on mere attendance, UCAP awards credit based on demonstrated knowledge and skills. Since the program was initiated, more than 1,600 students have been served.
“I am humbled by this recognition and I think the Murray family for this honor,” said DeBlois. He said he hopes the recognition leads others in the Rhode Island community to help children who face educational and life challenges.
The Murray prize will be awarded in the future for “above and beyond achievement” by individuals or organizations who have proven to be innovative, resourceful, have brought new ideas to the state or performed “heroic deeds.”
“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,” said Neil Steinberg, foundation president.