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2016 Believe Breakfast Honors Community Members and Raises $40K for The College Crusade


November 21, 2016


andrew-warren-at-600-20161117-c-cru-brkfst-330-2k-p1-2At left, Andrew Bramson, president and CEO of The College Crusade, congratulates Dr. Warren Simmons, recipient of the 2016 Dr. Americo W. Petrocelli Distinguished Service Award.

Above, Andrew Bramson, president and CEO of The College Crusade, congratulates College Crusade alumni Gloria Benson of Pawtucket and Dereck Mendoza of East Providence, recipients of the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Providence, R.I., November 21, 2016 – The College Crusade of Rhode Island held its 2016 Believe Breakfast celebration on Thursday, November 17, at the Providence Marriott Downtown. The Believe Breakfast celebrates the dedication of educators, state policymakers, business leaders, philanthropic organizations, community agencies, and families to supporting the academic and career success of Rhode Island’s young people. The event raised $40K to support the organization’s mission and honored four members of the community for their contributions.

Dr. Warren Simmons of Providence was the recipient of the 2016 Dr. Americo W. Petrocelli Distinguished Service Award. The award is given annually to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the field of college readiness and success. It is named in honor of Americo Petrocelli, who founded The College Crusade in 1989 and served as Rhode Island Commissioner of Higher Education from 1989 to 1995. Dr. Simmons is Senior Fellow at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and most recently served for 16 years as the Institute’s Executive Director. An accomplished senior executive, education advocate, and scholar, Dr. Simmons has also been a member of The College Crusade Board of Directors since 1999 and has served as Vice Chair since 2005.

Previous recipients of the award are Senator Jack Reed (2010), the Honorable O. Rogeriee Thompson (2011), Mary Sylvia Harrison (2012), Dr. Irving Schneider (2013), George Graboys (2014), and James L. “Jamo” Carr, Jr. (2015).

In addition, three alumni of The College Crusade shared the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes alumni who have had exemplary college and early career success and who demonstrate a commitment to community. Recipients for 2016 were:

•  Gloria Benson of Pawtucket. Ms. Benson, a 2003 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, attended the University of Rhode Island, where she earned a B.S. in Human Development with a minor in Leadership Studies in 2007. She then earned an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island in 2010. She currently serves as Program Assistant and Evening Event Manager for the Student Activities Office at Brown University.

•  Lydel Hall of Providence. Mr. Hall, a 2003 graduate of Central Falls High School, attended Rhode Island College, where he earned a B.S. in Music Education in 2007. He currently serves as a Music Teacher in the Pawtucket Public Schools.

•  Dereck Mendoza of East Providence. Mr. Mendoza, a 2005 graduate of East Providence High School, attended Bentley University, where he earned a B.S. in Computer Information Systems with minors in Management and Business in 2009. He currently works for FM Global as a Senior Research Tech II.

Honorary co-chairs for the 2016 Believe Breakfast were Nicholas C. Donohue, President & CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and Dr. Donald Farish, President of Roger Williams University. Event sponsors were:

•  Founding sponsors: Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Weybosset Research and Management, LLC.
•  Believe Sponsors: H. Carr & Sons, Inc., and Home Loan Investment Bank.
•  Support Sponsors: Books on the Square, CollegeBoundbaby, Cox Communications, Pawtucket Credit Union, Providence College, and RI Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals.
•  Inspire Sponsors: Brown University, Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, University of Rhode Island, and Yarlas, Kaplan, Santilli, Moran, Ltd.

About The College Crusade of Rhode Island

The mission of The College Crusade is to increase high school graduation, college and career readiness, and college completion for youth in Rhode Island’s low-income communities. The College Crusade supports approximately 4,500 students in middle school, high school, and college each year. The organization enrolls 6th and 7th graders who attend public and public charter schools in Providence, Cranston, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket. From the time they join through grade 12, Crusaders experience the steady, nurturing presence of caring adults and participate year-round in activities that focus on academic enrichment, social and personal development, career awareness and exploration, and preparation for college. Crusaders who attend colleges in Rhode Island also benefit from postsecondary transition and success services. In addition, since 2001, The College Crusade has awarded over $33 million in college scholarships to more than 4,200 RI students. For more information, please visit www.thecollegecrusade.org.

 The College Crusade is a nonprofit organization funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program, by the State of Rhode Island, and by private corporations, foundations, and individuals.


Karen Donovan
Marketing & Communications Officer

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