Champions of Hope, Kal & Lucille Rudman, Help Philadelphians Secure Jobs That do a World of Good

PHILADELPHIA, June 25, 2012—Rashanda Waiters of Germantown discovered last year she was only months away from the life she wanted. She decided on the right career path, and then, found a place where she could get training for free.

Waiters, then a part-time sales person at a local department store, enrolled in the Rudman Nurse Aide program at Community College of Philadelphia last November. The Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation picked up the tab for Waiters and 14 of her classmates.

After passing her state exam, Waiters was hired by the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Philadelphia. Today, her paycheck is twice the size it used to be, and her benefit package includes health care and paid vacation days. Not only did Waiters find a career, she discovered her passion in life. “I love helping people and knowing that I can make a difference,” she says.

As developers revitalize Center City and rehab its historic buildings, former music mogul and “Prophet of Pop” Kal Rudman, founder of the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation, has been quietly investing in the local people. These urban residents, much like historic buildings, need investors who see their true value and worth. Rudman and his wife sponsor a class of Nurse Aide students every year at the College, covering not just tuition, but books and the cost of the state certification exam. They also offer education grants for Philly police officers.

The man known for picking some of music’s biggest stars uses the fortune he has amassed to keep pipelines of local talent flowing to the frontlines of Philadelphia. But that’s not all. This year, the Rudmans will take their brand of community capacity-building to a higher level by simultaneously supporting public educational broadcast programming at Drexel University, Temple University, and now, Community College of Philadelphia. Their most recent $50,000 gift to the community college will establish the Kal and Lucille Rudman Multimedia Project. The gift will help the College continue to expand its TV station, CCPTV (Comcast Channel 53 and FIOS Channel 21).

Having completed one joint project already, the three highly diverse institutions plan to work together again as programming partners, uniting them in common service to the city. “This gift will enable the College to better partner with Temple University and Drexel University, both as production partners and as a training ground for students,” said College President Stephen M. Curtis. “CCPTV strives to incorporate student participation in every aspect of production, content development, management and operation.”

Since 2002, the Rudmans have provided a total of $262,494 to Community College of Philadelphia to help develop workforce skills and talent. This money enabled more than 400 Philadelphia police officers to take career-enhancing classes in the College’s Justice program. The Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation Tuition Grants program was established as a joint venture between Community College of Philadelphia, the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation and the Philadelphia Police Department. Grants for tuition and fees are provided to police officers to attend Justice courses at the Philadelphia Police Academy, or the College’s Main Campus or Regional Centers. “Rudman is planting the seed that develops a better officer,” says Lt. Robert Glenn, a spokesman for the Police Academy Recruit Training Unit. “College makes you a more rounded individual, as well as helping you make better decisions as a police officer.”

The Rudmans also support training for Nurse Aides, a battalion that works on the frontlines of healthcare and provides basic yet important services for sick or disabled clients in private residences, nursing homes and other institutions. Class after class, year after year, the program has transformed the lives of Philadelphia students and the clients they assist. Nurse Aide trainee Bakiir James spoke from the heart when he told the couple at his course completion ceremony, “You have helped us to become rays of sunshine in the lives of very worthy people,” he said.

The couple was driven to help as a result of the difficulty Lucille Rudman had in finding a well-trained certified nurse aide to care for her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Eventually, the family found a nurse aide who helped care for her mother until her death. “She was a wonderful woman and soon became like a member of our family,” Lucille Rudman said. “So, I know there is a crying need out there for more people like her.” 

Dr. Curtis said the Rudmans are “champions of hope” for providing the funds that allow highly motivated students to find life-sustaining career pathways. This short-term training leads to higher-paying jobs. According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), people with certificates earn, on average, 20 percent more than workers with only high school diplomas. They also can out-earn workers with two-year and four-year degrees.

Born in 1930, Kal Rudman began his music and radio career in 1959 as a Top 40 radio jock, juggling his popular late night show with his day job as a science teacher. It wasn’t long before Rudman moved to Philadelphia’s WDAS, building his success on his passion for rhythm and blues.

His syndicated broadcasts were carried in a number of major markets. Billboard Magazine hired Rudman as its first R&B editor. A few years later, Rudman left to start the first of his six trade publications. He continued to do local radio, as well as nationally syndicated broadcasts. He partnered with Merv Griffin, became the resident music expert on the "TodayShow" and is frequently recognized on the streets for one of his more unusual gigs—as announcer for the World Wrestling Federation.

Over the years, Kal Rudman’s true love has been “giving back” in ways too numerous to count. “The work is never finished,” Rudman once told a reporter. “All I do is connect the dots.”

By helping students, Lucille said, they are reshaping a city. After accepting a bouquet of roses from a grateful class of Nurse Aides in February, she told their latest protégées, “You are going to do a world of good and, for that, we thank you.”