UCAP School honors retiring founder, celebrates its 30th anniversary

PROVIDENCE – The UCAP School raised $90,000 during an event this month that celebrated the Providence school’s 30th anniversary and honored its founder and director, Robert DeBlois, who is retiring next month.

The event, attended by 200 guests, alumni, parents, staff and former staff, was hosted by the Fund for UCAP, a private nonprofit group established to support the enhancement of UCAP’s personalized learning environment.

Founded by DeBlois in 1989, UCAP – the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program School – was initially designed to prevent underserved students from urban districts from dropping out via a curriculum that rewarded them for the demonstration of knowledge and skills rather than attendance.

The model provided a safety net for failing students, helping them to succeed in middle school by enabling them to learn in a supportive, personalized environment, catch up with their peers, and return to high school prepared and ready for success.

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Working in collaboration with the Providence, Cranston and Central Falls school districts, the UCAP School has assisted more than 2,000 middle school students.

At the 30th anniversary event, Dan Corley, head of Community Preparatory School and a member of the Fund for UCAP board, presented DeBlois with a student-made award.

“One reason Rob is such a gifted educator and leader is his love for those around him. His quick wit and good humor help him to hone that love,” Corley said. “Also, key for UCAP’s success is that he knows that he can’t do it all by himself. He is great at inviting others to work and have fun with him. He knows how to build community.”

As he accepted the award, DeBlois said, “I am fortunate to have built my professional life, and much of my personal life around UCAP – the students, the teachers, professionals from all walks of life, and other educators. I’ve been able to do work that is worthwhile and meaningful, and my family has supported me and the school throughout. The work that we do at UCAP is so important. We are trying to bring to life the promise of opportunity that is a hallmark of our heritage as Americans. It really does take a village, and UCAP is an example of how this can occur.”