Media release

2021 Murray Family Prize honors Mario Bueno for community leadership

As executive director of Progreso Latino, Bueno leads a team of dedicated people to help ease the transition for thousands of Latino immigrants

The 2021 Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation has been awarded to Mario Bueno, executive director of Progreso Latino in Central Falls

With the honor, Bueno received $50,000 in recognition of his long commitment to helping Rhode Islanders with cultural and language barriers and economic challenges. There are no restrictions on the use of the money.

“Mario’s remarkable dedication to serving his community is an inspiring standard for others to follow. We take great pride in honoring him for his drive and his accomplishments,” said Paula McNamara, daughter of Terrence and Suzanne Murray, who along with her family established the Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Foundation.

Bueno has worked at Progreso Latino since 1994. Under his leadership, the organization has developed programs to address both emerging and systemic needs of Blackstone Valley residents, including social determinants of health, citizenship classes and workforce development. In addition, it offers preschool and after-school education programs and addresses the unique needs of the undocumented community.

“I’m truly humbled by this unexpected honor from the Murray Family. I’m also very grateful to family, peers, board and community members who have welcomed me and worked collaboratively to make a difference."

- Mario Bueno, executive director, Progreso Latino

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Progreso Latino has prioritized assistance to members of the community who are ineligible for public benefits based on their immigration status. The organization has provided undocumented residents with vouchers to help them stay in housing and meet their emergency needs. Its food pantry served thousands of residents during the pandemic.

“Working together will only make us stronger in facing adversity and Progreso Latino has represented such an important place for community to meet and support one another,” said Bueno.

Bueno serves on numerous boards, including the Governor’s Workforce Board, Care New England, Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies and Research and Blackstone Valley Community Health Care.

Bueno received a BA in economics and political science from the University of Rhode Island and master’s in educational leadership from Rhode Island College.

“It is vital to celebrate the positive contributions of Rhode Islanders like Mario who are striving diligently and humbly to serve others,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Murray family for honoring the extraordinary leaders whose dedication provides hope and improves the lives of those around them.”

The Murray Family Prize was launched in 2017. The previous recipients are the late Rob DeBlois, founder of the UCAP School; Joe Garlick, executive director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley; Eileen Hayes, executive director of Amos House; and Marie Ghazal, executive director of the Rhode Island Free Clinic.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $68 million and awarded a record $87 million in grants in 2020. Since its centennial five years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $284 million in grants and has raised more than $328 million. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.