Media release

Black Philanthropy empowers the community

“Providing the Black community with the resources to thrive goes to the core of our commitment to equity and our vision for ensuring that the future is bright for a changing Rhode Island.”

Linda Newton, member of BPBF advisory board

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $144,000 in grants and scholarships to serve the state’s African-American community through its Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.

“Providing the Black community with the resources to thrive goes to the core of our commitment to equity and our vision for ensuring that the future is bright for a changing Rhode Island,” said Adrian Bonéy, the grant programs officer at the Foundation who manages the program.

The grant program supports nonprofits that offer youth development and mentoring, promote the history and achievements of Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the Black community and strive to uplift low-income Black Rhode Islanders. Thirteen nonprofits are sharing $93,000 in grants.

AS220 Youth in Providence was awarded $10,000 to provide career training and mentorship opportunities to high-need youth who participate in its AS220 Youth program. The focus is on youth who are living below the poverty line, at risk of dropping out of school, formerly incarcerated or in foster care. Nearly 90 percent are youth of color.

"AS220 Youth provides arts mentoring, social justice education, and creative workforce development skills to 450 young people at three different sites in Rhode Island. We aim to empower youth to affect change for themselves and their communities by supporting them to grow socially and emotionally, develop essential life skills, further their education, and secure meaningful employment," said Shauna Duffy, executive director.

Boys and Girls Club receives grant

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence was awarded $10,000 to support its “College, Career and Community” program, which will serve an estimated 350 young people with education, college readiness, leadership development, community-building, financial literacy and mentoring services.

“This program will empower youth to break the cycle of poverty by establishing a path leading to graduation from high school and college, a successful career and social and financial stability,” said Nicole Dufresne, CEO. “Teens living in poverty need access to high-quality learning opportunities, positive and safe evening activities and training in skills that today’s employers expect.”

The Choir School of Newport County in Newport received $10,000 to support its 2020 Piano Lesson Outreach Program, which recruits low-income children and their support network of parents, guardians, teachers, and social service providers.
“For some low-income children, participating in the Choir School may be one of the few anchors of stability in their lives,” said Peter Berton, founding executive director. “Piano can positively impact many areas of our students’ lives, including improvement in focus, attention and memory, academics, social skills, self-confidence, independence and leadership.”

Day One receives grant

Day One, the state's sexual assault and trauma resource center in Providence, received $5,000 to support its iMentor program, which aims to reduce sexual violence by engaging young males in primary prevention efforts. The focus is on urban black youth living in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and Woonsocket.

“iMentor promotes positive interactions among male adolescents in order to change social norms in their communities and create safer environments for all. We empower youth to make positive decisions and reject risky behaviors by providing educational, personal development and mentoring opportunities,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director.

The Everett: Company, Stage & School in Providence was awarded $10,000 to support its work mentoring and engaging underserved and at-risk young people in the performing arts. The organization serves approximately 400 young people a year.

“Providence’s Black, Native American and Hispanic students attend disproportionately high-poverty schools that lack the educational opportunities found elsewhere. This work will transform lives across cultures and economic backgrounds, and create a more just, equitable and joyous future,” said Aaron Jungels, executive director.

Mentor Rhode Island in Warwick received $5,000 to provide mentoring training to police officers who participate in Providence Police Department Sports Academy programs. The organization expects to serve about 175 at-risk youth.

“One of the biggest issues facing law enforcement today is building community trust. Many young people do not interact with police except during law enforcement contexts. We’ll train the officers to act more intentionally on building relationships with the young people they meet through the academy in order to create an even deeper connection to the youth of the communities they serve,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO.

New Urban Arts in Providence received $5,000 to support its Youth Mentorship in the Arts program, which partners artist mentors with small groups of public high school students in a free, year-long after-school program. Nearly 800 students are expected to participate.

“Effective arts education has the power to change lives, but access to arts education is not distributed equally across racial and economic lines. We enable students to develop their artistic voices and acquire artistic skills through regular contact with experienced artists. The goals are to help students graduate high school on a path toward post-secondary success and to make a permanent place for creativity and imagination in their lives,” said Daniel Schleifer, executive director.

Providence CityArts for Youth received $5,000 to support its Out-of-School Time Youth Arts Program, which provides free after-school and summer classes in visual arts, design, music dance, digital media and creative writing to Providence students age 8 to 14.

“Closing the achievement gap requires a holistic approach that addresses students' social, emotional, and academic needs. We use art to help young artists grow. At ¡CityArts!, youth can express their ideas, celebrate their humanity, and embrace and share their diverse cultures, abilities, and perspectives,” said Jennifer Dalton Vincent, executive director.

The Refuge Dream Center in Providence received $7,000 for adult education and workforce development classes for recent refuges who have settled in Rhode Island. The services include basic ESL classes, computer classes, job coaching, cultural orientation and mentoring

“Refuges are a hard-to-reach and vulnerable population. Because of this grant, we will be able to help refuge clients improve their English, alleviate some of the stressors that they experience and attain success in their workplaces. The goal is to help them become financially independent and self-sufficient,” said Omar Bah, executive director.

Charles Roberts, RI Slave History Medallions

Rhode Island Slave History Medallions in Newport received $10,000 to support its Rhode Island Slave History Medallions project, which draws attention to the enslavement of Africans and indigenous Native Americans. The funding is expected to enable the organization to market, cast and publicize the placement of medallions in numerous locations across the state.

“This project addresses a gaping hole in education. Ignorance of history comes at a high price – the failure to know each other and ourselves. The medallions bring attention to the valuable contributions of people of color to this diverse, socio-economic cultural experience that has been erased by social injustice and indifference. This new context will transform the public’s conditioned response to the cultures of people different than themselves,” said Charles Roberts, chairman.

Valerie Tutson, RI Black Storytellers

Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS) in Providence was awarded $8,500 to support its annual Funda Fest and inaugural Funda Story Camp at the Southside Cultural Center in Providence this summer. RIBS expects to reach more than 5,500 people through the two programs.

“We are committed to supporting local Black artists and sharing the power and beauty of Black history and culture with all people. By passing on cultural values through the sharing of our historical and folk stories, we uplift our community,” said Valerie Tutson, creative director.

The Rhode Island Urban Debate League received $4,000 to support the growth of its after-school debate program. The organization expects to serve more than 1,500 students from Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket.

“Our programs help low-income youth of color understand the power of their voice and to use that voice to affect change in their communities. Unfortunately, the zip code a student is born into determines their life trajectory, but academic debate can change that. We’re working to level the playing field,” said Phyllis Gingerella Wade.

Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island (SCCRI) in Providence received $3,500 to support its Community Art Gallery (CAG). Located in SCCRI, CAG will feature work by artists of color in three-month-long exhibits.

“Opportunity and resources are often major roadblocks that Black communities historically and steadily fight to obtain. CAG will shine spotlights on the creative fervor, the style, the history of Black culture expressed through artists and art of the community,” said Taylor Jackson, program director. “SCCRI’s mission is to connect, cultivate and engage community through the arts. This gallery is a safe place for Black artists to tell visual stories, to engage, converse and unite as a community.”

Scholarship recipient Christina Lewis
Scholarship recipient Christina Lewis

In addition to the grants, the Foundation awarded $51,000 in scholarships to Black students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care in college or a technical school through the Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.

This year’s recipients are pursing nursing, health services management, social work, psychology and biology at the University of Rhode Island, Northeastern University, Howard University and Salve Regina University among other schools.

The Fund is now accepting applications for the 2020-21 academic year. Students must be African American or Black high school graduates or adult students, Rhode Island residents and pursuing or advancing a career in health care at a college or technical school. The deadline to apply is April 12.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.