Saved by Education

Sandi Redenbach and Ken Gelatt
Sandi Redenbach and Ken Gelatt

Cold. Alone. Young. Abused. Homeless.

This is how philanthropist Sandi Redenbach’s story begins. Thanks to education, it is not where her story ends.

The UC Davis alumna, who lived on the streets of Boston as a teenager and worked night shifts as a lounge singer and waitress in dive bars, was so destitute that she can recount tales of sharing a single pair of shoes with another waitress for months until she could afford her own pair.

Through her tenacious spirit and pursuit of an education, Redenbach’s life journey led her from Boston to Northern California and then to UC Davis.

Redenbach ’72, cred. ’73 said UC Davis prepared her for a fulfilling career as a junior high and high school drama, social studies and English teacher for more than 30 years. She is now an author and national consultant focused on the education of and programs for at-risk students.

Redenbach and her husband, Ken Gelatt ’67, cred. ’68, believe so much in the power of education that they made donations to create and support in perpetuity the Sandi Redenbach Students at Promise Award. The fund supports UC Davis teaching credential and master’s degree students who are committed to improving education for those at risk of not succeeding in school.

“Even when I was a high school dropout and homeless, I still had hope that someday, somehow I would find a way to be somebody,” said Redenbach, who founded a drop-out recovery, independent study high school in Woodland, Calif. “And I just really want that for every kid.”

more on Sandi and Ken