Media release

Grants and scholarships support RI's Black community

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded more than $125,000 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 commitment to equity and our vision for ensuring that the future is bright for a changing Rhode Island,”

- Adrian Bonéy, the grant programs officer at the Foundation who oversees 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 nearly $80,000 in grants.

AS220 in Providence was awarded $4,000 to support AS220 Youth, which strives to reach young people at high risk of disconnection and those in the custody or care of the state, through partnerships with the R.I. Training School, UCAP Middle School, Nowell Leadership Academy and the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.

“This year, through AS220 Youth's landmark arts and social justice learning program, known as Futureworlds, we are also partnering with the Department of Health to focus on addiction, including teen tobacco use and the opioid crisis, and how addiction disproportionately affects young people and communities of color,” said Seth Tourjee, grants manager.

The Boys & Girls Club 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,”

- 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.” said Nicole Dufresne, CEO.

The Capital Good Fund (Good Fund) received $5,000 to support its Financial Empowerment for Families program, which will include one-on-one financial and health coaching on topics including how to open and use a bank account, evaluating ways to increase income and decrease expenses, and access to health care.

“We will deliver a uniquely intensive, robust and impactful service for African-American families. Participants will also have access to low-interest loans for a variety of needs, which include placing a security deposit on an apartment, catching up on rent or utilities, paying off high-interest debt or repairing a vehicle,” said Andy Posner, Good Fund's Founder and CEO.

The Everett: Company, Stage & School in Providence was awarded $8,000 to mentor and teach over 400 at-risk young people in the performing arts.

“This work will transform lives across cultures and economic backgrounds, and create a more just, equitable and joyous future,”

- Aaron Jungels, executive director

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.

“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 Sophia Mackenzie, development director.

The Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project received $5,000 to support the creation and placement of a monument in Newport’s Liberty Square to commemorate the lives of Africans who were brought there as part of the Atlantic slave trade and to shine a light on the role the city played.

“The ultimate goal is to celebrate African-American culture. Many of our black youth are struggling. We feel that when the African-American youth in our city view this monument, they will experience pride, self-worth and a desire to work toward self-sufficiency,”

- Victoria Johnson, who chairs the initiative’s board of directors

Providence Promise received $5,000 to provide $100 college savings incentives to encourage up to 50 Black/African American students from Providence and their families to open and contribute to a CollegeBound Saver account, Rhode Island’s 529 plan. The organization encourages Providence public school and charter school students to pursue post-secondary education and earn a credential beyond high school.

“Providence Promise is an investment in the future of our city. It is an investment in our kids. With the help of our schools, churches, businesses, elected officials, families and other partners, we can ensure that every public school student in Providence will have access to the resources they need to make their dreams a reality through higher education,” said Chief of Operations Madalyn Ciampi.

The Refuge Dream Center received $7,000 for ESL and workforce development classes for recent refuges who have settled in Rhode Island. The countries of origin of the participants include Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, The Gambi and Liberia.

“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,” said Omar Bah, executive director.

Rhode Island Black Storytellers in Providence was awarded $6,500 to support its annual Funda Fest and Funda Story Camp at the Southside Cultural Center in Providence this summer.

The Rhode Island Guardians Association received $6,500 to support a mentoring program that will prepare Black youth and young adults for careers in criminal justice.

“Rhode Island Guardian members believe that the recruitment of qualified black candidates will ultimately lead to better community-policing and better community-police relations in the State of Rhode Island. Thus, mentoring is an important component of recruitment and it will better prepare a candidate for a challenging career in the field of criminal justice,” said John P. A’Vant, President.

Mentor Rhode Island received $5,000 to support its work training mentors in partnership with the Providence Police Department Sports Academy. The organization expects to serve about 175 at-risk youth through the program.

“This training will allow the officers to act more intentionally on building relationships with the young people they meet through the academy and provide an even deeper connection to the youth of the communities they serve,”

- Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO

The Rhode Island Urban Debate League received $5,000 to support the growth of its in-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

Youth In Action in Providence was awarded $5,000 to support the organization’s CORE and Immersion programs for youth leaders from front-line communities. The focus is on developing critical thinking skills and learning strategies for social change, which is followed by projects that enable students to apply their new knowledge.

“These youth not only carry a disproportionate amount of societal burdens, but are often sent the message that it is their fault. Our model targets systems of oppressions and allows youth to practice leadership, share their stories and create change as full and immersed participants," said Elliot Rivera, executive director.

In addition to the grants, the Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund awarded more than $47,000 in scholarships to Black students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care at an accredited institution and are Rhode Island residents who demonstrate financial need.

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 $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.