Through our Civic Leadership Fund, we recently hosted an event to hear from our grantees about investments we are making in economic security, education, and health – our three primary strategic priorities. We are committed to and focused on improving education outcomes for students, increasing access to quality primary care, and boosting the economic security of all Rhode Islanders.
At last week’s Community Conversation we heard from a sampling of Foundation partners who are bringing these strategies to life through their innovative programs and hard work. Four presenters from each of the three sectors were asked to speak briefly about what they are doing to move the state forward. Of course, this is just a small sample of the good work happening; for every one of the 12 presenters, we know there are many more doing similar positive, forward-thinking work in Rhode Island.
Improving education outcomes
As we focus our attention on closing gaps in student outcomes, we are investing in evidence-based programs that have a proven track record as well as in new and innovative models that have a promising approach. At the same time, we are facilitating the professional development of educators. Finally, we are supporting policy reforms at the state and local level that prioritize student achievement.
"Is it working? Our students have higher test scores, better attendance, and fewer behavioral problems."
"Blended learning is nothing more than the strategic integration of quality teaching with quality technology." – Shawn Rubin, Highlander Institute
"What would it look like if every child had his or her unlimited potential unleashed every day in school?"
– Donna Braun, Center for Leadership & Educational Equity
"Imagine a world in which our kids are ready for careers and work."
– Andrea Castaneda, Rhode Island Department of Education
Increasing access to primary care
The physical and mental well being of all Rhode Islanders is critical to overall quality of life in our state. That is why we’re committed to educating consumers and community leaders about the role of primary care in achieving positive outcomes, to promoting the development and use of primary care medical homes, and to identifying, testing, and spreading integrated “full body” approaches to health care.
"There are unacceptable health burdens disproportionately borne by children living in poverty." – Patrick Vivier, MD, Hasbro Children's Hospital
"Patients and providers love the shared medical appointments model."
– Peg Miller, MD, Women's Medicine Collaborative
"We're helping patients overcome social barriers to primary care." – Christine Hansen, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care
"Providers are learning how to help people become successful dental patients." – Marty Dellapenna, Center for Medicaid-CHIP Oral Health Program
Creating a strong economic climate
We believe that the foundation of a strong Rhode Island economy will be quality jobs that allow our residents to support themselves. In order to have jobs, we need to have robust enterprise and a skilled workforce. Our approach has been multi-pronged: strengthening the business ecosystem by helping businesses start and grow, meeting the needs of workforce and industry by pursuing improvements to workforce development systems, and improving statewide self-esteem by promoting assets and enlisting advocates.
"We all have the same goal – to build our economy by strengthening our respective industries." – Wendy Mackie, Industry Networks cohort
"We bring empowerment and access to capital to those communities with barriers to small business growth." – Carmen Diaz-Jusino, Center for Women and Enterprise
"Pragmatically speaking, I am optimistic about Rhode Island's future." – Andrew Cortes, Building Futures
"How do we get employers to hire on the basis of competencies rather than credentials?" – Karan Chopra, Opportunity@Work
We have set an ambitious agenda for our state and we cannot accomplish it alone. Tackling these complex and persistent issues requires coordination, collaboration, and shared vision.
Our hope is not only to spotlight the work individual partners are doing, but to facilitate cross-sector thinking and dialogue between philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, public sector employees, elected officials – all of whom are playing a role to make our state stronger.
We believe that when committed citizens come together, creative and meaningful change can happen.