Skip to Content

St. Louis champion for inner city children honored by NEA

WASHINGTON - June 23, 2011 -

Lillian Curlett will be honored by the National Education Association (NEA) at its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards dinner to be held in Chicago on July 1. She will receive NEA’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Award.

“Every community in America needs a Lillian Curlett,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Lillian Curlett gives of herself—her time, her energy, and her talents—to the disadvantaged youth of St. Louis, and because of her, thousands of young people, many of whom might have dropped out of school, are going to college.”

Curlett chose to leave a lucrative career as a human resources executive in order to co-found and run the Jamieson Memorial Human Resource and Development Agency, a faith-based 501 (c) (3). Under her leadership, the agency operates three programs for minority children: the St. Louis Freedom School, which provides summer reading enrichment; the Jamieson 21st Century After-School Program, which works with students in public schools K-8 to improve reading, math, science and social studies skills; and the Rites of Passage Program, which helps boys and girls develop leadership skills by connecting with their African-American heritage.

At Curlett’s insistence, the St. Louis Freedom School and the Jamison After-School Program both have undergone rigorous external evaluations. The results indicate that students in both programs have improved their reading levels by as much as two grades. In addition, parents report that their children show more positive attitudes about themselves and school and express greater confidence that they will graduate from high school and go to college. “Lillian has helped thousands of St. Louis youth believe in themselves,” said Professor Mark Abbott of Harris-Stowe State University.

An active member of the Jamieson Memorial CME Church for 38 years, Curlett attributes all that she has done for the young to her faith.

Curlett’s award is named for Mary Hatwood Futrell, a teacher who rose from a humble background to become NEA president (1983-89) and then dean of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. The award is given each year to a person who helps disadvantaged students, including girls, realize their full potential.

For more information, visit:
Follow us on twitter at

# # #

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Dana Dossett  (202) 822-7823,