Grants & Scholarships

Encouraging young, talented people of diverse backgrounds to the field of communications

Television commercials, highway billboards, social media buys, community event flyers, magazine ads, talking points, videos, speeches and even the words chosen in news headlines and stories. That is just a snippet of what the field of communications produces. This business can infiltrate young mindsets, drive needed change, and spin any story left or right.

Kobii Spruill, a rising junior at the historic Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Providence native, wants in on this profession.

She already has her foot in the door after a summer internship with the RDW Group Inc., a leading marketing agency in Providence since 1986, and as a recipient of its RDW Group Communications Scholarship for People of Color, administered by the Rhode Island Foundation.

“I really want to be a part of creating a platform for representation for black girls like me and those not a part of the picture and marginalized,” said the media management communications student and daughter of community leaders Kobi Dennis and Tanisha Spruill Dennis.

She continued, “Marketing and communications shape our society, and it is especially important to have all involved.”

Increasing the representation of people of color in all businesses, especially leadership, to achieve equity in Rhode Island continues to be a strategic initiative for the Foundation, evident in signature programs like the Equity Leadership Initiative, as well as grants, investments, capacity building, and scholarships.

In fact, about 43 percent of the Foundation’s scholarships – which are an array of opportunities and fellowships for students from middle school to post-graduate level throughout Rhode Island - are awarded to those who self-identify as people of color.

As its official name states, the RDW Group Communications Scholarship is only given to students of color. It is a renewable award ranging from $500 to $3,500, given to a Rhode Island person of color studying communications at the undergraduate or graduate level. An internship with RDW is also offered to the recipients, but it is not required.

“My father and founder of RDW Group, Michael Doyle, established the RDW scholarship in August of 2000 with $25,000,” said Martha Doyle Lindman, RDW partner and Senior Art Director. “He recognized the lack of diversity within our organization and the advertising world at large. Over the course of the program, we have been able to award 44 scholarships. I began overseeing the program in 2016, and I love being able to continue this extremely important work.”

When the scholarship was established, her father said, “At RDW, we have always encouraged minority applicants, but have been discouraged by the response we have received. As corporate citizens, we feel it is important to encourage more young, talented people of diverse backgrounds to enter our profession. We hope to accomplish just that."

Spruill wants to follow in the footsteps of Doyle Lindman, who was her mentor at RDW in the summer of 2022. They are also both alumni of the Lincoln School, in Providence. During her internship, Spruill said she learned, among other things, how projects come to life through shadowing people, as well as the art of storyboarding for a commercial.

“It was really fun,” she said. “I got excited on how it panned out and being a cog in the wheel.”

Another scholarship recipient and intern, Estarlyn Hiraldo, also said he learned a great deal during his time with RDW in 2021.

“My internship opened my eyes to what being a creative in a corporate setting could be,” said Hiraldo in a recent interview. “It prepared me in the profession as well as with presentation and outreach.”

The Providence College graduate has taken all the lessons learned, including how to present yourself from a branding perspective and how to put together an advertising brief, with him to California.

The 24-year-old moved to L.A. two years ago because he considers himself a creative and calls that city “the capital of creativity.” He came to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 10, and benefited from learning art and how to play piano at his local YMCA and many other extracurricular classes that he didn’t have access to in the Dominican Republic.

He has been making films since high school, and is also a musician, rapper, painter, drawer and model.

“I didn’t want to be constrained [to a single discipline],” he said regarding strengthening his multiple talents. “I moved to California to work in film and television because I love filmmaking, the art of storytelling, and presenting my life from a visual perspective.”

While there is a lot of competition, Hiraldo is doing what he loves.

That includes post production/film work at SpringHill, the entertainment development and production company founded in 2020 by NBA star LeBron James and Lebron’s business partner, Maverick Carter. Much like the Foundation’s commitment to diversity, SpringHill fosters culturally-inspired brands, entertainment and products because it also knows representation matters.

To learn more about all of the Foundation’s scholarship, grant and fellowship opportunities, click here.