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Grants fund programs for Latino community
By Chris Barnett / February 15, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

Eleven nonprofit organizations that serve the Latino community will receive grants from the Rhode Island Foundation through the Juanita Sánchez Community Fund, established in memory of the late Latina activist. The programs range from mentoring and after-school activities to ESL classes and scholarships.

Books are Wings in Pawtucket will use its grant to give children access to nonfiction books by creating a high-quality Latino-focused curriculum for schools and early learning centers.

“We believe books and the stories they tell can be powerful tools that educates and inspires us all. Every child should experience the joy of reading and be able to see their own image and lives reflected in these stories,” said Jocelynn White, director.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence will use its grant to support an after-school swim program for students who participate in the 21st-Century Learning Community at Jorge Alvarez High School. The Boys and Girls Clubs will provide transportation to and from the pool at the South Side Boys & Girls Club.

“Swimming is one of the most effective aerobic activities, and can help youth gain and maintain fitness. Youth of color have less access to swim lessons and recreational swimming while growing up, leading to increased safety risks around water. We will address these disparities in a fun, engaging way,” said Nicole Dufresne, CEO.

Children’s Friend and Service in Providence will use its grant to purchase bilingual books in Spanish and English to support language and literacy development in low-income Latino families.

“Supporting the development of language and literacy skills is crucial. We know that being able to develop home libraries and increasing access to bilingual books encourages a love of reading and fosters language and literacy acquisition,” said David Caprio, President and CEO.

The Community Boating Center in Providence will use its grant to offer free, after-school sailing and kayaking programs to disadvantaged youngsters in Providence and Central Falls.

“Bringing sailing and paddling to at-risk youth helps improve physical, social, emotional and educational outcomes. Our programs have a significant impact on youth and families to pursue further educational objectives,” said John O’Flaherty, executive director.

Community Preparatory School in Providence will use its grant to fund scholarships for Latina girls. Located in Providence, the independent middle school serves about 140 generally low-income students in grades 4 through 8. Ninety-two percent of the students receive substantial financial aid.

“Most of our students are at-risk because of the economic conditions that they face. Breaking the cycle of poverty lies in the availability of quality education within a safe and nurturing environment,” said Dan Corley, Head of School.

The Educational Center for Arts & Science in Providence will use its grant to help stage a production of “La Danza de Mingó” March 22, 23, 29 and 30. The play combines theater, live music and spoken-word performances to present the true story of Florinda Muñoz, who fought for human rights and civic empowerment in the Dominican Republic.

“We are planning to have students at least from five different high schools and three universities watch the play. Performances are followed by talkbacks where students and teachers share their impressions and ask the actors about their personal experiences, sense of character and interpretation of the play's message,” said Frances Parra, artistic and executive director.

The Federal Hill House in Providence received a grant to support ESL programs for participants in its Foster Grandparents Program, which provides mentors to disadvantaged children and families. About 40 percent of the volunteers are Spanish-first speakers.

These actively serving volunteers interact with children, teachers, and members of the community every day in social and educational settings. Learning or improving their English-speaking skills will help them be engaged members of society, communicate effectively with the public and to continue to serve our youth,” said Kimberly Fernandez, executive director.

The Manton Avenue Project in Olneyville will use its grant to support its spring Playmaking program, which includes eight weeks of afterschool classes that will culminate in a public festival of original plays written by third-grade students and performed by adult artists.

"At MAP, we believe all young people deserve the opportunity to imagine strong futures. Theater is a powerful vehicle for personal and social change, and playwriting imparts important skills in critical thinking and creative problem-solving, which can be carried throughout our students' academic and personal lives,” said Meg Sullivan, executive artistic director. “Playwriting is a specifically transformative way for young people from a underserved community to express their inherent empathy, connect with others, practice creative thinking and expand their horizons.”

Providence CityArts for Youth received a grant to support a multi-cultural performing arts, literacy, and media program that will expose students to contemporary and traditional storytelling methods of Afro-Cuban-Caribbean and Latino cultures.

“The goal is help our mostly Latinx participants gain more voice and control over their narratives, which is especially important in the current environment of increased racism, and divisive politics. This program will help them communicate their ideas and thoughts in multiple art forms and writing,” said Nancy Safian, executive director.

Young Voices in Providence will use its grant to support its after-school leadership program at Juanita Sánchez Educational Complex. At least 20 students are expected to participate in the program.

“These youth achieve career and college success far beyond that of their peers. Against all odds, our students not only complete high school, but graduate from schools like Brown, Brandeis, Bentley, Bryant and Northeastern. Through this training, they gain essential, transferable skills in public speaking, networking, critical thinking, and the ability to relate effectively with adults at any level,” said Karen Feldman, executive director.

The Washington Park Citizen's Association in Providence will use its grant to deliver culturally-sensitive, family-focused, after-school programs to low-income Latino children.

“The program responds to the needs of Hispanic and Latino children and families in the Washington Park community. The after-school program is staffed by experienced licensed teachers who provide homework support, engage with families, foster home-to-school communication and more,” said Frances Murphy, executive director.

The fund was created in 1992 through the contributions of friends and family members who wished to memorialize Sánchez as a leader, organizer and long-time believer in fighting for the unmet needs and rights of Latinos in Rhode Island. The fund is guided by an advisory committee comprised of Marta V. Martínez,  Michele Cortez Harkins, Tony Sánchez and Tia Ristaino-Siegel. Supporters can donate to fund on-line. The deadline to apply for the next round of funding is Sept. 28.

“More than 20 years after her death, Juanita Sánchez still evokes inspiring memories, smiles, tears, advocacy and the act of giving to Latino issues in Rhode Island. Today, the Sánchez Fund honors Juanita’s life by making small grants to organizations that serve the unmet needs and advance the rights of Latinos,” said Martínez.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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