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Paul J. Adams III

Executive Chairman and Founder

Born September 14, 1940, Paul Joseph Adams III learned the value of education from his parents, Patsy Lois and Paul Adams, Jr., who enrolled him in private elementary and high schools in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. After receiving a B.A. from Alabama State University, Mr. Adams moved north to Chicago, where he worked in mental health education while earning his M.A. in psychology from Northeastern Illinois University.

In 1971, Mr. Adams was hired as director of guidance for Providence St. Mel School, a private Catholic high school in Chicago. One year later, he became the principal. When the Archdiocese of Chicago withdrew funding from the school in 1978, Mr. Adams spearheaded a national campaign to raise money for the school. In response to his publicity-seeking efforts and the support of the Providence St. Mel students and community, the school received local and national media attention. Donations poured in from across the country, allowing Mr. Adams to transition Providence St. Mel into a not-for-profit independent school.

At Providence St. Mel, Mr. Adams focused on developing a strong academic standard while enforcing strict disciplinary codes. To guarantee the safety of his students, he moved into the vacant convent inside the school to ward off thieves and vandals. His dedication became legendary and during the next two decades. Mr. Adams successfully transformed Providence St. Mel into a premier college-preparatory learning institution for African-American students.

From  1996 until 2014, Mr. Adams  served as president of Providence St. Mel School, and now serves as Executive Chairman. He is still very active in the school, which has since expanded to include preschool, pre-kindergarten, elementary, and middle grades, for a full preschool-12th grade span. Under his leadership, 100 percent of Providence St. Mel’s graduating seniors have been accepted to four-year colleges and institutions of higher learning for over 30 years, with an average of 50 percent attending top-tier and Ivy League institutions since 2001.

According to Mr. Adams, “I learned early on that without a proper education, a person is doomed. If I could provide the right environment, our children could enter these doors and feel free to learn and prosper.” Due to his constant effort and dedication, the student body at Providence St. Mel has blossomed to 550 thriving students.

Mr. Adams has received numerous awards for his accomplishments, including the McDonald’s Education Achievement Award, the African-American Male Image Award, the Rozell R. Nesbitt Community Education Award, and five honorary doctorates. Mr. Adams was named an American Hero in Education by Reader’s Digest and was voted Man of the Year by the Chicago Urban League. He also was chosen by Michigan State University as a distinguished Crystal Apple Award winner and the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has selected Mr. Adams as one of Chicago’s 2009 Heroes. In August 2010, Mr. Adams was awarded The President’s Award by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. at their 50th National Convention in New Orleans. In 2011, Mr. Adams celebrated his 40th anniversary at Providence St. Mel School. In 2013 Mr. Adams was honored with the Educational Impact Award at Pastor Corey Brooks’ First Inaugural Fundraising Gala held at New Beginnings Church.  In 2014, he was named as one of Chicago Defender’s 50 Men of Excellence and received The Father Michael Pfleger Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the St. Sabina Academy School Board.