Focused on the future

Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Award

As founding president of St. Martin de Porres High School, Rich Clark has helped build a school with community service among its central guiding principles.

In Clark’s case, serving the community means giving the community’s future leaders and contributing members the tools to realize their potential.

Upon returning from a trip to Peru during which Clark served with a team of educators tasked with developing a plan for building a network of high schools designed to serve very low-income families with a high-quality education that prepares them for college and beyond, Clark became committed to opening such a school to serve Cleveland.

To make his vision a reality, Clark enlisted the help of others he knew from his tenure as principal at St. Ignatius High School.

Before the 105 original members of the class of 2008 walked through the doors at St. Martin de Porres as freshmen in 2004, Clark had assembled the school’s board, hired the management team — including principal Mary Ann Vogel and Tom Bennett, the executive vice president for the corporate work study program.

With the school board’s assistance, Clark formed a partnership with St. Vitus Church and secured a long-term lease for the school. With Bennett’s help, he secured 20 job placements at firms and businesses throughout Greater Cleveland, introducing to the business community a new education concept in which high school students work five days a month at entry-level positions to help pay for their college prep education.

This year, St. Martin de Porres will work with 144 corporate partners, generating $2.3 million, which will be directly invested in the education of its more than 430 students.

What has been achieved by St. Martin de Porres students, with the support of many dedicated individuals led by Clark, is inspiring and offers hope to the entire Cleveland area. The school has graduated three classes totaling 190 students, and all graduates have been accepted to at least one college or university. St Martin de Porres graduates currently attend schools such as Case Western Reserve University, Denison College, Fairfield University, Howard University, Miami University, Oberlin College and Spelman College.

How to reach: St. Martin de Porres High School, (216) 881-1689 or www.saintmartincleveland.org