RI Foundation announces first winner of a new $50,000 prize for remarkable achievement

Inaugural Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation awarded to Rob DeBlois, principal and founder of the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program (UCAP)

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

With the award, DeBlois received a $50,000 prize in recognition of his decades-long commitment to educating 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.”

DeBlois founded UCAP in 1989. It is an independent, public middle school that partners with other school districts to identify students who are at-risk of dropping out and helps them “catch up” with their grade level and return to high school. Rather than focusing on time-in-seat, UCAP awards credit based on demonstrated knowledge and skills. The faculty helps 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 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 D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Murray family for trusting us with this gift to the community, and for working with us to acknowledge some of the many Rhode Islanders who are working to make lives better.”

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising, and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

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