NEW YORK (JTA) – Two Jewish educators won the annual Charles Bronfman Prize for helping low-income students prepare for college.
Mike Feinberg, 40, and Dave Levin, 39, were recognized with the $100,000 award for co-founding the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of tuition-free, open enrollment college prep courses that are run in 19 states.
While fewer than one in five low-income students in the United States attends college, the program’s college matriculation rate stands at above 80 percent. Some 90 percent of the program’s 16,000 students are black or Hispanic.
Feinberg’s path to education started when he was a teaching assistant at Oak Park Temple in Chicago, and continued when he worked as a volunteer helping new Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. He and Levin met as volunteers with Teach for America.
Feinberg and Levin will share a portion of the award with the Leo Baeck Education Institute to fund the development of a KIPP-inspired program in an underserved community in northern Israel. The new program ultimately will serve both Arab and Jewish students.
“Mike and Dave are challenging educators around the world to rethink education policy," Bronfman said in a statement. "With their audacity to confront years of educational neglect and push past those who embraced the status quo, these young visionaries are bringing about game-changing results. Theirs is a remarkable accomplishment deserving of recognition.”
The prize named for Bronfman was established by his children and is given for humanitarian efforts.