Granting recognition to those highly successful in operating innovative and effective urban education programs allows the Center for Urban Education Ministries to honor outstanding programs and people.

Toward that goal, CUEM has established the Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education. Dr. Bayer began his career serving children and families in Lutheran schools in Baltimore and Chicago. In the 1940s, he opened a one-room school for grades 1—8 in Greeley, Colorado where students received a strong Lutheran education. He moved to Concordia College in Austin, Texas, where he served for thirteen years as academic dean. He worked part-time for the Synodical Board for Higher Education, preparing a ten-year projection for higher education in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Dr. Bayer also served that Board as associate executive secretary. In 1980, he and his wife Lois moved to New York in order to serve at Concordia College in Bronxville. As Dean of Administration and Vice-President, he co-founded the Center for Urban Education Ministries. The center engaged urban educators to better meet the critical needs in their communities and to share insights with other educational leaders. During his ten years of service to the Center, Dr. Bayer emphasized its mission to provide Gospel outreach to children and families through excellent and equitable education in urban areas. He recruited individuals from academia and the broader Christian community to conduct numerous projects in support of this mission. Dr. Bayer was a gifted author, writing many devotions, journal articles, and two books on urban education. Dr. Bayer died on August 19, 2008, at the age of 84. He is survived by his wife Lois, for adult children Tim, Mike, Pam and Lynn, and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Bayer is remembered with deep affection and respect by all who knew and worked with him. This award is given to organizations which demonstrate his commitment to strong, inspiring urban education programs.

Each spring, CUEM will seek nominations for this annual award. Churches, schools or educational and social service agencies are eligible to apply. Nominations should be submitted to the CUEM office by June 30th of each year and include:

  • Organization name, address, phone number and website
  • Name and contact information for organization’s director or leader
  • A one page (max) statement describing the work of the organization or program.
  • A one page (max) statement outlining why the organization should receive the Bayer Award.
  • Letters of support for the nomination are encouraged.

The Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education carries a cash prize of $500 and recognition at a public event to celebrate the recipient’s accomplishments.

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