News & Event
St. Luke’s Parish in Barrington participates in the Loaves and Fishes Rhode Island ministry which delivers food, clothes and new socks and underwear to the homeless. Recently, the fourth grade class at St. Luke’s School came up with an idea to help this ministry.
To view the complete article, visit Rhode Island Catholic
Courtesy of Rhode Island Catholic
By Catherine Hewitt Sun staff writer Dec 7, 2018 Updated Dec 7, 2018
STONINGTON — Working with graham crackers, vanilla frosting, and marshmallows, 50 elementary students did their part to help the homeless at a gingerbread house workshop Thursday at Deans Mill School.
The event raised about $360 for the Mystic shelter known as Always Home. It was organized by the Stonington High School student government and facilitated by the Deans Mill student senate.
Matteo Panciera, 10, a fourth grader and student senator, who was helping students in grades K-2 construct their architectural confections, said he liked the symbolism of the project. Participants donated $10 each. “I think the gingerbread houses are a really good way to raise money for the homeless people because we should be grateful if you have a house or a place to live,” he said.
Panciera also said was learning skills from the high school students, who circulated around the school cafeteria, instructing the student senators on how to help the workshop participants.
“The high school students are doing a good job of helping,” he said. “We’re learning that it is good to help kids and you should do things to try to help other people, like being in the student government and student senate.”
To view the complete article, visit The Westerly Sun
Courtesy of The Westerly Sun
Posted: Sep 06, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 06, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) - Hundreds of Rhode Island children are starting the school year without a permanent place to live, forcing them to stay with other families, in motels or in the most dire circumstances, on the streets.
But a homeless shelter in Middletown is working to support families by assisting mothers to find jobs and affordable housing while also trying to keep children from falling off track in school.
Lucy's Hearth has been in operation for 33 years, but recently moved into a new building that gives small rooms to 15 families, according to Jennifer Barrera, the organization's program director. Barrera said most families stay in the shelter for between three and six months, although she acknowledged some end up staying longer.
"The best outcomes for us, for the families, are that they achieve permanent affordable housing, that the moms and children, actually the whole family, increases their self-sufficiency," Barrera told Eyewitness News. "So they're getting higher-paying jobs, or they're getting education or training opportunities."
To view the complete article, visit WPRI 12
Courtesy of WPRI 12
Support experiential learning that empowers students to challenge themselves and help communities
They’re students who believe in the positive impact of community-engaged work. They don’t just earn a degree – they go further. They empower each other and themselves with the confidence that they can get things done. They learn to thrive, adapt and conquer the challenges that await them. They change communities and they change lives.
And the best part is that they aren’t a small cohort of students. At RWU, our mission is to bring civic scholarship as a way of doing things to every student, channeling our collective force into a singular goal: to strengthen society through engaged teaching and learning.
At Roger Williams University, we are committed to providing immersive learning opportunities for every student, putting their knowledge and skills to work solving real-world problems with community partners. With civic scholarship, our students go beyond traditional classroom learning and deploy into local and global communities, working hand-in-hand with community partners to address their specific needs and create meaningful change around economic development, sustainability and social justice.
Through the Campaign for Civic Scholars, we are doubling down on our commitment to provide the wide range of project-based learning and community-engaged work that we refer to as civic scholarship. And that means we need you to go further!
Your support provides the vital resources that prepare our students and faculty to go beyond the classroom and work with community partners on real issues. This isn’t a scholarship or financial aid – your funds help build an infrastructure for civic scholarship at RWU that creates meaningful educational opportunities while working to strengthen society through engaged teaching and learning. Each donation goes directly to creating the coursework that trains our students and faculty to collaborate as partners; developing deep community partnerships locally and globally; and purchasing the critical equipment to deploy them into communities near and far. With your help, we can bring civic scholarship to every student at RWU – and we’re almost there!
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In 2016, the Hassenfeld Family Initiatives Foundation contributed $500,000 to support faculty development, underwrite the work of Student and Faculty Fellows, and fund interdisciplinary projects in the local community. Read about the inaugural group of Hassenfeld Fellows who applied their knowledge and skills to interdisciplinary projects ranging from immigration law advocacy to working toward creating health equity, and more.
In 2017, the Feinstein Foundation committed $500,000 to support local students to attend RWU who had participated in service learning projects in their former elementary and middle schools. Pledging to do good deeds while in elementary or middle school instills a love for service that continues to grow when they arrive at RWU and dive into community-engaged work and volunteer service. Read about six high school students that entered RWU as Alan Shawn Feinstein Leadership Scholars this fall.
At RWU, we have several institutes and pathways that connect students with community-engaged projects and opportunities to bridge theory with practice.
Clients who are homeless or housing insecure can come, take a 15-minute shower and access any of the other services the staff provides, including basic medical care and case management, said Laura Jaworski, executive director of House of Hope.
People use the service to take a shower and get a haircut before a job interview, clean up after sleeping on the street or enjoy a much-needed moment of peace and privacy, she said.
To view the complete article, visit Providence Journal
Courtesy of Providence Journal
By Mary MacDonald - March 21, 2019 6:01 am
PROVIDENCE – The number of students in Rhode Island who are experiencing homelessness and would qualify for educational services is thought to be undercounted, according to a new study released Thursday.
The under-identification of students who are homeless may impede their access to resources, including federal funds for local schools. The children are entitled to services and interventions, such as free transportation to their home school if their family has to move because they’ve lost their home, according to the report by HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.
The report, called “Falling Through the Cracks: Student Homelessness in Rhode Island,” is based on the research of Marjorie Pang Si En, as part of her thesis for a public policy degree at Brown University.
Her research examined the effectiveness of a federal program that provides funds to school districts for children who are homeless, and which distributed $263,597 to a total of five Ocean State school districts in 2017.
The report concludes that homeless students – who are often living “doubled up” with extended family members – may be undercounted by districts because they are not identified as homeless by district liaisons.
To read the complete article, visit Providence Business News
Courtesy of Providence Business News
Our homes are the solid ground upon which we build our lives – safe, secure, healthy spaces where we can eat, sleep, and spend time with our families; bases from which we travel to work or school; conducive, reliable environments in which we can thrive and grow.
Yet for many Rhode Islanders, this basic resource remains persistently out of reach. It’s a crisis that students at Roger Williams University School of Law are addressing head-on through the Rhode Island Tenant Stabilization Project, aimed at helping low-income tenants who face eviction and possible homelessness.
Law students get involved through RWU Law’s Pro Bono Collaborative, in partnership with the Center for Justice, HousingWorks RI and the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School.
“For us, RWU Law students are a force-multiplier,” says Jennifer L. Wood, executive director of the Center for Justice. “Having them involved is a critical factor for us to be able to reach the volume of cases we need in order to draw meaningful conclusions about the best way to help families sustain their tenancies, stabilize their housing, and stabilize their lives.”
As HousingWorks director Brenda Clement explains, “The path to economic opportunity begins at our front door. Nothing else works right if we don’t have that safe place to get up from and go home to every day. By providing legal and housing assistance, the Tenant Stabilization Project aims to help level the playing field and change the outcome for tenants in a positive way.”
It also places RWU Law students at the center of the action.
“Students get some practical application of the things they’re learning in the classroom – and we get those extra boots on the ground that the law students provide,” Wood says. “They interact with our clients, they write, and they do research – basic factual research, getting out on the street to visit a property and see what the conditions are; interviewing tenants about their circumstances. Both of these are critical aspects to us in developing cases, and also critical learning experiences for the students.”
Indeed, second-year law student Stephanie Diorio says her work with the project has been eye-opening and gratifying.
“It’s a tremendously valuable experience,” she said. “We’re in the field working with actual attorneys and clients; researching, writing, drafting pleadings. And along the way, we have a wonderful opportunity here to help people who would otherwise not have legal representation.”
An Eviction Crisis
While many advocacy groups assist tenants in public housing and Section 8 housing, no parallel resources exist for those in the private rental market. The Tenant Stabilization Project is an effort to change that dynamic.
“Our review of the docket at the 6th District Court [in Providence] revealed that more than 400 evictions are filed every month in that court alone,” Wood notes. “With no other attorneys dedicated to this work, hundreds of tenants face eviction proceedings without an attorney.”
As a result, most never get the chance to raise legitimate counterclaims and affirmative defenses based on substandard health and safety conditions – and landlords wind up with revolving-door tenancies.
What’s needed is someone who can dig down and identify these underlying issues. Evicted tenants “want to talk; they want to tell their stories,” says law student Diorio, who has interviewed many of them at the courthouse following eviction hearings. “Even when they’ve had a negative outcome, they still want to tell us about the housing issues they’ve been facing.”
The Tenant Stabilization Project aims to prove that when such matters are effectively brought to the court’s attention, positive change can happen.
“That’s the ultimate goal of our project – that tenants in Rhode Island are able to live in affordable, safe, healthy housing,” Wood says. “For us, it makes sense for the tenant to be able to stay in their housing – perhaps through a negotiation with the landlord in the context of an eviction proceeding; and for the landlord to upgrade the housing with some needed repairs to make the unit code-compliant. So the landlord wins, because there’s an upgraded apartment, and a stable tenant who’s paying the rent; and the tenants win, because they’re able to avoid dislocation and all of its negative downstream consequences – from loss of education stability for the children in the family, to potential loss of employment.”
By working together, RWU Law, the Center for Justice, HousingWorks and Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab “hope to make some pretty powerful policy arguments about how these types of cases should be handled in the future,” Wood said.
Laurie Barron,director of RWU Law’s Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education, says the initiative is also a perfect fit for the school’s social justice focus.
“It’s collaborative. It’s in our community. It’s partnering HousingWorks, the Center for Justice, and the Pro Bono Collaborative with our law students. And we also have Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab on our team, dedicating its wisdom, expertise and resources to helping low-income tenants in our community,” Barron explains. “It’s a way of leveraging resources that we just don’t have on our own.”
Eliza Vorenberg, RWU Law’s Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships, explains, “This is, at its core, an access-to-justice project, through which many, many low-income people will get representation in eviction cases, and many more will get access to self-help materials. And my guess is that, when the CFJ begins doing these cases on a high-volume basis, we’ll have yet another dimension of work for our law students, which will be supporting the work of the attorneys as they conduct this high-volume eviction defense.”
Part of the project’s synergy comes from the fact that the Pro Bono Collaborative, the Center for Justice and Housing Works are all headquartered at RWU Law’s experiential campus in downtown Providence. “Co-locating us in the same building, in the same city, was a stroke of genius by Roger Williams University,” Clement says, noting that participants from each organization regularly drop by one another’s office for impromptu brainstorming sessions. “It’s an absolutely inspired situation.”
Wood adds that “a small nonprofit center like ours really benefits at every level from having participation from law students. We also have a commitment and a partnership with the law school to employ RWU Law graduates, who come to us for two-year fellowships so that their experiential learning and practical training continues beyond graduation from law school.”
Diorio says the entire project has added a new depth and dimension to her law school experience.
“I’m able to take what I’ve learned in class, and put it to work in a reasonably useful fashion,” she says. “Then I can take that experience back to the classroom and share it with my peers and professors. And because these pro bono programs allow law students, under the supervision of attorneys, to represent clients who might otherwise go unrepresented, we can have a huge impact. It’s a really important piece of what we do here at the law school, and I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in these programs.”
* * *
The Rhode Island Tenant Stabilization Project program is made possible through a gift from Hassenfeld Family Initiatives LLC, which established theHassenfeld Projects – an intensive, three-year initiative to expand and enhance innovative work in experiential education. The grant builds on RWU’s growing cadre of experiential programs that prepare students to meet the demands of today’s employers while building skill sets in areas such as economic development, sustainability and social justice.
Courtesy of Roger Williams University School of Law
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