Nellie Mae Education Foundation Surprises PASA Executive Director With Lawrence O’Toole Award

By Hillary Salmons, PASA Executive Director

On Monday, I was thrilled and honored to be presented with the Lawrence O’Toole Leadership Award from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. This is was such a wonderful surprise, and one that all of us here in Providence should feel proud of. 

While I may have been handed this fantastic oversized check (what fun!), all of the work we here at PASA do wouldn’t be possible without our amazing network of collaborators and partners here in Providence and beyond. For ten years, we’ve had a wonderful time building a great after-school and expanded learning system with some of the most inspiring and passionate people working in education and with youth, and that spirit of sharing resources and ideas is what has made the AfterZone and the Hub student-centered learning models for the whole country.

Over the years, we’ve worked with the city, the school district, over 100 community-based organizations, teachers, and of course young people and their families to make sure that every student in Providence has the same opportunities that lead to academic success, as well as to healthy social and emotional development. 

Together, we’ve been able to serve over 7,000 young people through the years. We’ve been able to improve school attendance, and now that our AfterZone participants have begun moving through high school, we’re seeing that the majority (97%) of students who participate in programming more than 50 days in middle school are going on to graduate high school

That’s what our community has been able to accomplish! 

What a wonderful feeling to look around on Monday and see so many members of that dedicated and passionate community, from Mayor Taveras, to Nellie Mae President Nick Donohue, PPSD Superintendent Susan Lusi, the Rhode Island Foundation’s Denise Jenkins, State Representative Ray Hull, and even former Hub ELO student (now a college Freshman) Genesis Sanchez.

I look forward to putting this giant check to use by giving it right back to the Providence community that has shown time and time again what it means to come together and put its young people’s needs first. 



See WLNE’s live coverage of Monday’s event here

Check out Nellie Mae’s Storify page for more photos and to see what people had to say!

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