Giving circles support Black, Latino communities

Two giving circles established earlier this year at the Rhode Island Foundation – the Black Giving Circle and the Latino Giving Circle – have made their inaugural grants to nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island serving their respective communities.

“Giving circles are a tried and true model for bringing peers together in a social setting who share a vision for helping the community by collectively supporting local nonprofits with charitable donations. Giving circles are an opportunity to help the community, inspire philanthropy, and build meaningful relationships,” states Christine Pellegri, senior philanthropic advisor at the Foundation who co-facilitates the giving circles.

Co-facilitator Daniel Kertzner, also a senior philanthropic advisor at the Foundation, continues, “One of the Foundation’s core values is to address the underlying causes of inequity and eliminate disparities. As part of the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, we initiated and are supporting the Black Giving Circle and the Latino Giving Circle.”

Each member of a giving circle contributed funds which were matched one for one by the Rhode Island Foundation. Giving circle members together decided which nonprofit organizations to support.

Black Giving Circle

The Black Giving Circle awarded grants totaling $15,000 to the following nonprofit organizations:

Foster Forward is a nationally and locally recognized leader that ensures all children and youth impacted by foster care have safe, healthy, and nurturing families. Foster Forward supports young adolescents and adults who are currently or formerly in the foster care system and also manages the Storefront, a resource for all foster families who can pick up free gently used clothing, toys, and other essentials.

Community Baptist Church’s Five Star Souper Kitchen provides a nutritious weekly dinner meal, prepared and served every Saturday by a dedicated core, volunteer staff with support from various church and community groups as well as community volunteers. The food is cooked from scratch and prepared with love. Great meals, fantastic helpers, community support, and staff dedication all combine to make the Five Star Souper Kitchen a unique dining experience.

Rhode Island for Community & Justice (RICJ) is a social justice nonprofit dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry, and racism and promoting understanding among all races, religions, and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution, and education. Through its adult and youth programming, RICJ works with students, teachers, clergy, corporate and civic leaders to facilitate workshops, develop curriculum, convene race relations and inter-religious dialogues, and provide consulting on challenges related to bias, bigotry and racism.

“There are do’ers, donors, and door openers in this world. The Black Giving Circle allowed me to help serve my community by donating a small amount of money that will allow the selected organizations to continue to “do” and to “open many doors” to others in the community.”

- Black Giving Circle member Larome Myrick, executive director, Division of Youth Development. Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families

Other members of the Black Giving Circle are Rele Abiade, Guillaume Bagal, Abu Bakr, Danny Bullock, Jamila Lewis Greene, Junior Jabbie, Mrs. Victoria Johnson, Khadija Lewis Khan, Kim Barker Lee, Antonio Lopes, Maryann Mathews, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, Colleen Ramos, Michelle Saunders, Lauri Smalls, Lysa Teal, Jeffrey Wright, Jr., Joi-Danelle Whitehead, and Kilah Walters-Clinton.

Contributions may be made to the Black Giving Circle Fund at

Latino Giving Circle

The Latino Giving Circle awarded grants totaling $10,000 to the following nonprofit organizations:

AMOR is an alliance of community based grassroots organizations mobilizing at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status to prevent, to respond to, and to end state violence against our community. AMOR provides assistance and referrals for counseling, immigration services, legal support and other social services.

Rhode Island Professional Latino Association is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization made up of Latino professionals in the state of Rhode Island, providing mentoring, education and networking opportunities to the Latino community.

ECAS Theater
is the state’s leading Latino theatre and performing arts organization. ECAS Theater is dedicated to helping children, teens and adults discover the performing arts and embrace their rich multicultural heritage in an educational context. ECAS presents play performed in Spanish and also provides acting, dance and singing classes and summer camp programs for children 7-16 years old.

I’m thrilled we’re paying attention to Latino-led organizations. Unrestricted grants are critical and can be game changing. I’m 100% supportive of all three grants we made.”

- Latino Giving Circle member Ray Nuñez, co-founder and CEO of Nuñez

Other members of the Latino Giving Circle are Tomás Ávila, Sylvia Bernal, Adriana Dawson, Carmen Diaz-Jusino, Paola Fernandez, Joseph Molina Flynn, Diony Garcia, Deborah Gonzalez, Tony Mendez, Yvette Mendez, Kathy Placencia, Patricia Placencia, Yahaira "Jay" Placencia, Pablo Rodriguez, and The Honorable Angel Taveras.

Contributions may be made the Latino Giving Circle Fund at

The giving circles will re-convene in 2022. Persons interested in participating should contact Christine Pellegri at or (401) 427-4027 or Daniel Kertzner at or 427-4014.

Giving Circles are just one facet of the Rhode Island Foundation’s broad, three-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 grantmaking. Recent work includes launching the Equity Leadership Initiative to develop a pipeline of leaders of color for positions of influence throughout Rhode Island, creating a grant program to help nonprofits create anti-racist organizational cultures, and launching a program that recently awarded $660,000 in grants to build the capacity of nonprofits led by people of color.