Media release

Building a pipeline of leaders of color

April 15 is the deadline to apply to be a part of the Equity Leadership Initiative

The Rhode Island Foundation is accepting applications for the 2022 class of its Equity Leadership Initiative (ELI). Applicants must be residents of Rhode Island who identify as Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous or multiracial.

“ELI seeks to advance people of color in greater leadership and decision-making positions within our state by identifying, mentoring and supporting a pipeline of accomplished leaders. Organizations and teams thrive when they’re led by diverse leaders to meet diverse needs,” said Angie Ankoma, vice president and executive director.

The year-long program supports existing leaders of color who are working in the public, private or nonprofit sectors. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to racial equity and social justice.

The leadership development initiative is scheduled to begin in September, those interested in applying must be able to participate in monthly leadership and program activities. Up to 30 applicants will be invited to participate. There is no cost to apply or participate.

In addition to monthly half-day group meetings, participants will receive regular one-to-one coaching sessions; will develop a personal leadership vision and goals; will be matched with a mentor; and will make high-level connections across industries.

Two informational sessions will be held via Zoom for interested individuals on Friday, April 1, from noon to 1 p.m. and Monday, April 11, from noon to 1 p.m. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 15. For more information, click here.

This will be ELI’s second class. To learn more about the members of the initiative’s inaugural group, click here.

“Just being part a group of leaders who look like me has been a great experience. I’m broadening my network and gaining access to passionate and influential people across the state. Together, we are going to become a force for transformation,” said Ray Nuñez, a member of the inaugural class and co-founder of Nuñez, The People's Agency.

ELI is just one facet of the Rhode Island Foundation’s broad, 3-year, $8.5 million plan to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and access – with a first focus on racial equity – above and beyond its traditional yearly grant-making.

The work includes creating a capacity-building program to support nonprofits led by Asian, Black, Latino or Hispanic, Indigenous or multi-racial executive directors or other decision-makers within an organization, and launching a grant program to help nonprofits create anti-racist organizational cultures.

“Dismantling the root causes of inequity and striving to eliminate disparities is among our core organizational values, and continues to be a major focus across all of our work in the community. We incorporate a racial equity lens when making decisions about allocating resources to improve health, educational success and economic security among other crucial issues,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Despite the progress that has been made, we must strengthen our resolve with a greater sense of urgency to eliminate disparities and achievement gaps to meet the goal of a better future for all Rhode Islanders.”

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 $98 million and awarded $76 million in grants last year. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.