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Propel Schools co-founder Resnick honored

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 12:50 p.m.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and lived his life trying to make it a reality.

Jeremy Resnick, who shares King's abiding concern for social justice, spends his days making his own dream come true.

Resnick, co-founder and executive director of Propel Schools, believes that the most glaring injustice of our lifetime is the disparity in the quality of education between poor and rich communities.

Parents will always choose better schools for their children if they can, he said.

Publicly funded charter schools provide that choice, according to Resnick, who was honored on Friday with the distinguished individual leadership award at the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership & Diversity Awards and Celebration 2013 held at the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture, Downtown.

“It's great that Propel is being recognized. When people walk into one of the schools, there is a sense of warmth and caring for the students,” Resnick said of Propel's network of nine nonprofit charter schools that has been recognized for outstanding gains in student achievement and for closing the racial achievement gap.

“The students are doing amazing things,” Resnick said. “I feel lucky to be part of it.”

Resnick's sense of humility was not lost on the celebration's keynote speaker, Kare Anderson, a Forbes columnist and former award-winning journalist for The Wall Street Journal and NBC.

“When I asked questions about him, he consistently deferred to speaking about Pittsburgh and other people he knew,” Anderson said. “That's refreshingly rare.”

Resnick, 49, started the Charter Schools Project at Duquesne University and was a co-founder of Northside Urban Pathways Charter School. The first Propel School opened in 2003 in Homestead.

“Propel has a belief that all children deserve a great school,” said Resnick, a former Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher. “If you believe that, there is some obligation to use whatever talent you have to create it.”

Richard D. Ekstrom, chair of the Coro Pittsburgh Center for Civic Leadership board of directors, calls Resnick “an innovator” and “very exciting leader.”

Andrew Butcher, co-founder and CEO of Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) Strategies, was given the distinguished Coro alumni leadership award. The organization leadership award went to Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K., an arts education program.

All proceeds from the event will be used to support Coro Pittsburgh, a civic leadership training organization.

Michael Hasch is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-320-7820or mhasch@tribweb.com.

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