Leveraging opportunities 

Transforming public education in Rhode Island

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced the “Race to the Top” grant program and here in Rhode Island, we saw this as opportunity to transform public education in our state. Working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), we supported the development of a robust and innovative set of goals, which won Rhode Island a four-year, $75 million grant. As one of only 12 states across the nation to receive these funds, we recognized that to accomplish our ambitious goals, we would need the commitment and collaboration of a wide range of partners. 

To support this groundbreaking initiative, we co-chaired the Race to the Top Steering Committee and assembled a broad-based coalition – composed of educators, legislators, community and business leaders, union officials and representatives of nonprofit organizations that advocate on behalf of children and youth – to provide guidance and feedback on the critical work that RIDE was undertaking. 

In the years since the state received these funds, the Steering Committee has met quarterly in open, public sessions to advance teaching and learning and to serve the best interests of Rhode Island students.  In 2011, Rhode Island was one of nine states awarded grants from the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge fund providing $50 million over four years to improve early learning and development opportunities for Rhode Island's young children.

We have seen important progress on our goals. Professional development programs, new curricula, and new data systems have been developed. Monitoring and evaluation processes have been designed and put in place. Communities and neighborhoods have been engaged in new ways, and new partnerships have been formed. 

While we know there is still much work to be done, we are proud to have played such an important role in supporting the transformation of our educational system. This kind of community leadership – which leverages statewide opportunities and supports statewide initiatives – is one of the unique ways in which we, as the state’s community foundation, can serve the needs of the people of Rhode Island.


One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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