The Ryan Award honors transformational school principals

The Ryan Award 

Congratulations to the 2018 Ryan Award Recipients

Recently, Accelerate Institute awarded the Ryan Award to two high-impact urban school leaders who accelerate student achievement. Both were selected from a field of national nominees and received a $25,000 check from Pat Ryan—founder of Accelerate Institute—at a surprise school assembly attended by staff and students of each school.

We created the Ryan Award seven years ago to honor transformational urban school leaders.
This year’s winners each have their own unique stories, but there’s one thing both have in common—their leadership styles are truly transformational. In recognizing their work, we seek to inspire more educators to replicate their impact in urban schools across the country.

— Pat Ryan, Founder


Find out more about this year's winners by clicking on their names below.

Joán Alvarez


Lindsey Robinson



Hear from past Ryan Award winners


What is the Ryan Award?

The Ryan Award is the first national principal award in the United States. Awardees are transformational principals of urban schools who have demonstrated accelerated results in underserved schools over a minimum of four years and serve a sizeable percentage of urban, low-income, and minority students. Accelerate Institute recognizes the important and challenging work of school leaders across America who are giving students a chance by believing in them and holding student success as the only barometer to their own professional success.

The Awardees will each receive a $25,000 honorarium and be featured lecturers at Accelerate Summer Institute at Northwestern University. Their stories and strategies will be profiled so that current and future school leaders can gain powerful inspiration and insight from their successes. The Ryan Award was established by Accelerate Institute and made possible by the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation.

Who is eligible for the Ryan Award?

Eligible principal candidates can be nominated from a variety of schools (traditional public, charter, and private) and should meet the following criteria:

Accelerated Student Advancement

Over four years of accelerated student achievement data from a nationally norm-referenced assessment (i.e., NWEA MAP or ACT's EPAS) 
School Demographics

• At least 80% percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch
• At least 80% percent of students from minority groups

Upon acceptance of the nomination, Ryan Award candidates will be asked to gather and share further insights into their work and provide documentation of their success (i.e., recent accreditation review, parent/student engagement survey, data analytics tool) that aligns to the eligibility criteria.

Nominate a transformational leader today

Know someone who is dramatically making a difference in urban education and closing the achievement gap? Contact Nicole Williams via email here.