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Pious Ali Nominated for $100,000 Lawrence O’Toole Award

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Pious Ali Nominated for $100,000 Lawrence O’Toole Award
Posted on 09/11/2015
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Pious Ali, a youth and community engagement specialist with Portland Empowered, is this year’s Maine nominee for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s 4th Annual Lawrence O’Toole Award. Ali, a school board member, is eligible to win a $100,000 grant, which he would use to start a summer camp program in Portland to teach computer-coding skills to underserved students.

Ali is competing with nominees from five other New England states for the grant. The public has a chance to pick the award winner by voting online by Sept. 30. To learn more about Pious Ali and vote for him, click here.

Last year, Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce received the most votes and won the award for his school. His win marked the first time a Maine nominee won the prize.

The Lawrence O’Toole Award – also known as the Larry O’Toole award – is given out by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, a private foundation focused on school transformation in New England. The award was established to honor the legacy of Nellie Mae’s founding president.

Each year, Nellie Mae uses the award to recognize an individual, organization, school or district exhibiting great leadership through innovation or courage in moving student-centered approaches to learning forward. There are six nominees, each from a different New England state. The winner receives a $100,000 grant from the foundation for their school, district, or organization.

Nellie Mae’s website page on the nominees for the award describes the Maine nominee, Pious Ali, in this way: “Ali is helping the Portland community rethink what schooling looks like.”

It continues: “As a leader with the community group Portland Empowered, and a member of the Portland School District’s Board of Public Education, Pious is a respected champion for authentic youth, parent and community engagement across race, gender, class and faith in the Portland community. Through his work with Portland Empowered, Pious is working with parents and students from the Portland Public Schools to get them involved in the district’s transition to a student-centered system, ensuring that students and parents have a voice in the school system.”

Portland Empowered champions student and parent voices across Deering, Casco Bay and Portland high schools so that schools reflect what and how students want to learn, parents and community are partners in students’ education, and all young people have opportunities for educational and career success within and beyond high school.

With generous support from Nellie Mae, Portland Empowered serves as a vital community partner to the Portland Public Schools in working toward improving educational outcomes for all kids.