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Valley Breeze Scholarship Fund
By Jean Cohoon / July 17, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...
It all started in 1996 in Tom and Carol Ward’s Cumberland living room with a Mac computer and a vision to bring positive, local news to residents of Cumberland and Lincoln.

Today, the Valley Breeze – of which Tom is publisher – includes five weekly editions that cover not only Cumberland and Lincoln, but also North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Providence, Pawtucket, and nearby Blackstone, MA. With a combined circulation of more than 60,000 papers, the Valley Breeze now has more than 40 employees.


“I was hopeful we could put out a nice hometown paper, and I would have been happy with that. People thirsted for positive news, and the paper was an instant hit,” Tom shares.

While acknowledging changes in the newspaper industry, Tom stresses, “We’re not going anywhere. We’re doing fine, but we have had to evolve with the times.” The newspaper now covers more hard news than it did in its early days and has a robust online and social media presence.

The local focus also is evidenced through Tom’s involvement in community organizations, including serving on the board of the local Chamber and previously as president of the Rotary Club. He also coordinates the State Spelling Bee.

This scholarship fund further illustrates a commitment to the community. The Valley Breeze Scholarship will be awarded annually, beginning in 2018, to one graduating senior at Cumberland High School which Tom refers to as “our hometown school” and one at Mount Saint Charles Academy, his alma mater. The students should have demonstrated achievement and promise in journalism (first priority) or writing (second priority).

“I feel strongly that there is not the appropriate care of the written word that there used to be. Language is changing, especially with social media. If we can help, so much the better,” he explains.

Of his decision to partner with the Foundation, Tom states, “Rhode Island Foundation helps people who want to plant a small seed and hope it turns into something. The Foundation has a good reputation for management of funds. It was time for me to hand the funds over to the pros to manage.”
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