News & Event
Health equity as a reality, not a pipe dream
Ana Novais, the executive director of the R.I. Department of Health, described the health equity zone initiative as an example of what happens when “brilliance that exists” in the state, at the community level, at the state agency level, and at the funding level, can build a collaborative approach.
Novais continued: “We can make a difference by investing in our communities, so we can build strong, resilient communities, so that every single child does have a chance for a healthy life, and does have the opportunity for good housing, good education, and good jobs.”
Some say, Novais concluded, “That the dream of health equity is a pipe dream. I believe that Rhode Island is proving them wrong. It is not a dream, it is a reality, when people and communities come together, connected to our health equity zones.”
Crossing the news chasm
As much as The Rhode Island Foundation has recognized the value of the work of the nine existing health equity zones in Rhode Island, there is still a news chasm when it comes to The Providence Journal, which failed to cover the 2018 Health Equity Summit held on Sept. 20 at the Providence Convention Center, even though it drew more than 750 participants. And, two weeks later, in a front-page story about health disparities, The Journal made no mention of health equity zones, a glaring gap in news coverage. More than an error of omission, the oversight appeared to be an error commission, in ConvergenceRI’s opinion.
Similarly, The Providence Business News, in rewriting the news release about the Oct. 19 event at Progreso Latino, inexplicably described the $3.6 million in grants in support the work of health equity zones in Rhode Island as “health care remediation grants,” whatever that means. [GoLocal Prov simply republished the news release in its entirety.]
And, at the upcoming PBN 2018 Fall Health Care Summit on Oct. 30, with its panel of “health care experts and business leaders,” one topic missing from the conversation is health equity zones. Why is that?
Courtesy of ConvergenceRI
Boston– October 30, 2017 – Santander US CEO Scott Powell today announced Santander’s “Inclusive Communities” plan, Santander Bank’s new $11 billion, agreement with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) to increase lending, community development, and charitable giving. The plan outlines Santander’s commitment to communities across its eight-state northeastern U.S. footprint for 2017 through 2021, during which time Santander will increase its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) activity by 50 percent and triple its investment in charitable grants.
Over the next five years, Santander will provide:
- $4.2 billion in residential mortgage loans for low- to moderate income families
- $1.9 billion in small business lending
- $3 billion in community development lending
“This plan is the foundation of Santander’s approach to supporting the communities where we live and work,” said Powell, CEO of Santander US, the Bank’s U.S. holding company. “We recognize that Santander’s success is directly linked to the prosperity of our communities’ families, businesses and neighborhoods. By increasing lending, investments and financial education opportunities, we hope to boost the long-term economic success of low- and moderate-income individuals and neighborhoods.”
Powell announced “Inclusive Communities” at a meeting this morning in downtown Boston where he was joined by officials from the City of Boston, other public officials, and National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) President and CEO John Taylor.
"This is a good day for people in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and my home state of Massachusetts,” said John Taylor, NCRC President and CEO. I want to applaud Santander for committing 11 billion in investments for underserved neighborhoods over the next five years. Santander’s leadership showed a special dedication to working with community leaders and better understanding the credit needs in the areas they serve. We are very pleased that this commitment, and especially the 10 new bank branches, will help individuals build wealth and neighborhoods build their economies."
“Inclusive Communities” was developed with significant input from and collaboration with more than 100 community-based organizations throughout the Bank’s footprint. Supported and facilitated by the NCRC, an extensive ten-month long process helped identify emerging community needs and strategies aimed at addressing the challenges faced by underserved communities in Santander’s key markets.
Read a in depth summary of Santander's "Inclusive Communities" agreement here
In addition to the Bank’s financial commitments, Santander is establishing a national Community Advisory Board (CAB) comprising representatives of not-for-profit community development organizations and financial inclusion advocates, as well as community development policy organizations, and representatives of local or state economic development or housing agencies. Members of the CAB are:
The Bank is also establishing statewide/regional advisory boards in its footprint to ensure ongoing community input and will be enhancing its current Community Development and CRA teams with the addition of 17 new positions in the coming years.
Local leaders applaud the agreement:
"ANHD applauds Santander for creating this new CRA plan. They listened to over 100 community based organizations to create a plan that is reflective of community needs throughout the bank's footprint, including New York City. We also appreciate the creation of national and regional community advisory boards, which put the structure in place to implement, monitor, and adjust the plan to ensure it has the greatest impact. We look forward to working with the bank to put this plan into action,” Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.
“New Jersey Citizen Action has had a longtime partnership with Santander Bank and its predecessor, Sovereign Bank. The bank's $11 billion commitment in mortgages, small business loans and community development lending will provide loans, access to capital and affordable housing for thousands of New Jerseyeans. I look forward to serving on the bank's National Community Advisory Board and working with Santander to ensuring that these dollars are reinvested in our communities,” Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action.
“The effort behind this plan will ensure that those who live and operate businesses in developing neighborhoods can benefit, including immigrants and communities of color,” John Chin, Executive Director, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.
“As a leading Center for Independent Living for People with Disabilities in the greater Philadelphia Area, we applaud Santander's commitment to the community and our desire to increase affordable and accessible housing opportunities for the many Seniors and People with Disabilities who we serve throughout the region,” Thomas H. Earle, Esquire, Chief Executive Officer, Liberty Resources, Inc.
"Santander has had a long and impactful presence in the Greater Reading community. We look forward to continue working with Santander Bank and its team members in implementing this comprehensive plan, particularly in downtown Reading, where they have a large workforce and occupy almost 1/4 million sf of office space, in addition to having its name on the Santander Arena & the Santander Performing Arts Center," Edward Swoyer, President, Greater Berks Development Fund.
“This is an exciting and groundbreaking agreement that will improve our communities and transform lives. It demonstrates that banks and the communities they serve can thrive together when they work together. We congratulate Santander, NCRC, and the dozens of community based groups who worked so hard to make this happen,” Joseph Kriesberg, President & CEO, Mass. Association of Community Development Corporations.
“We believe this agreement with Santander Bank will go a long way in helping LMI communities in Waterbury CT. It provides a framework and capital for the hard-working people of the Northend section of town to rebuild a vibrant community,” Pastor Rodney Wade, President, Concerned Black Clergy Council of Waterbury.
“The Community Reinvestment Act is an important tool that empowers people in many ways. For example, the act can be used to conduct community development. As far as I am concerned, it protects LMI communities from senseless crime and violence,” Angela Mciver, Chief Executive Officer, Fair Husing Rights Center in Southeastern Pensylvania.
“This was a unique opportunity to work with fellow community organizations to determine priority needs and where we want Santander to direct their resources to help address those needs. It was also an opportunity for Santander to gain a better understanding of their community responsibility and measures needed to implement in the future. Represented organizations put a great deal of time and care into this process to ensure fairness and optimize outcomes for the communities we serve,” Majeedah Rashid, Chief Operating Officer, Nicetown Community Development Corporation.
"MAHA looks forward to continuing our partnership with Santander in reaching low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers as we both seek to close the large racial wealth gap in Massachusetts", Symone Crawford, board president, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance.
"Obviously, Home Ownership is the foundation upon which strong, thriving communities are based. We welcome the proactive steps being taken by Santander and we look forward to many years of success. Together, we can be the change that our communities need - one house at a time, one block at a time, one neighborhood at a time..." Stephen T. Gieringer, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks, Inc.
Partners in the Community Benefits Agreement:
Santander Bank, N.A. is one of the country’s largest retail and commercial banks with more than $79 billion in assets. With its corporate offices in Boston, the Bank’s 9,700 employees, more than 650 branches, 2,100 ATMs and 2.1 million customers are principally located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE: SAN) - one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 125 million customers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. It is managed by Santander Holdings USA, Inc., Banco Santander’s intermediate holding company in the U.S. For more information on Santander Bank, please visit www.santanderbank.com.
Santander Holdings USA, Inc. (SHUSA) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE: SAN) (Santander), one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 125 million customers in the U.K., Europe, Latin America and the U.S. As the intermediate holding company for Santander’s U.S. businesses, SHUSA includes six financial companies with more than 17,500 employees, 5.2 million customers and assets of over $135 billion. These include Santander Bank, N.A., one of the country’s largest retail and commercial banks by deposits; Santander ConsumerUSA Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SC), an auto finance and consumer lending company; Banco Santander International of Miami; Banco Santander Puerto Rico;Santander Securities LLC of Boston; and Santander Investment Securities Inc. of New York.
Community Liaison Job Description
Position: Upper South Providence Community Liaison
August, 2018 – January, 2019
*Note that this is a temporary assignment
The Barbara Jordan II Community Engagement process is indented to foster a meaningful dialogue with Upper South Providence residents, anchor institutions, neighborhood organizations and other local stakeholders about how to respond to neighborhood development pressures that are beginning to be felt and how housing reinvestment of the vacant Barbara Jordan II properties could benefit the community.
Rhode Island Housing and their planning consultants Camiros, Ltd., are seeking two Community Liaisons who are currently residents of the Upper South Providence Area to assist in the Barbara Jordan II Community Engagement process. Assistance will be needed starting August of 2018 and ending at the completion of the planning process, which is expected to be in January of 2019. Each Community Liaison will be provided a stipend of $1,500. The liaisons will be expected to contribute 100 hours of work at a rate of $15/hour to activities associated with the engagement process. The Community Liaisons will be required to:
The Community Liaison must have excellent communication and organizational skills and be able to work with a variety of people. Bilingual English/Spanish language skills are a plus.
Please email a resume and cover letter to:
411 South Wells Street Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60607
Courtesy of the Barbara Jordan II Community Engagement Project
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
2200 Southwood Drive, Nashua, NH
We invite you to be a part of the second New England Lead Conference taking place on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Nashua, NH. Hosted by the New England Lead Coordinating Committee, the conference will include a variety of educational sessions focusing on lead prevention, policy, model programs, outreach, the EPA’s Renovation, Remodeling and Repair Rule (RRP), lead abatement, compliance, and the economics of lead poisoning.
Read more >
October 4, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
The Narragansett Times: Dziobek steps down as Welcome House director
By KENDRA GRAVELLE Sep 29, 2017
SOUTH KINGSTOWN—When Joseph Dziobek accepted the position of executive director of Welcome House of South County nearly three years ago, he had expected the job would make for a simple transition into retirement.
But what was intended as a part-time gig turned into much more than that for Dziobek, who this week left his post.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Dziobek, whose last day on the job was Monday. “And it’s been very satisfying—I feel very close to the people who have been a part of it.”
Dziobek, 66, took the job at Welcome House after retiring from his career as CEO of Fellowship Health Resources. He said he intended only to stay for two or three years.
October 4, 2017 in Local Interest
Final Days to Register: 2017 Housing Fact Book Release
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Luncheon: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Location: Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street, Providence RI
October 3, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
Rhode Island College: The Defamation Experience
Monday, October 30, 2017
5:00PM - Doors Open
6:00PM - Performance
SPONSORED BY: THE DIVISION OF COMMUNITY EQUITY AND DIVERSITY AND THE DIVISION OF STUDENT SUCCESS
THE PLAY * THE DELIBERATION * THE DISCUSSION
September 27, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
NLIHC: Sign Letters to Support Equitable Housing Recovery after Devastating Hurricanes
Help ensure that low income people and neighborhoods are treated fairly after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. A broad coalition of national, state, and local organizations is calling on Congress, FEMA, and HUD to ensure that the federal response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria is complete and equitable for everyone, especially families and individuals with the lowest incomes who are often the hardest hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover afterwards.
September 27, 2017 in Local Interest, National News
Roger Williams University: Social Justice Month Events
Thursday, Oct 19
Mary Tefft White Center
How Housing Works
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sponsored by Housing Works RI and RWU Chief Diversity Officer
Keywords: socioeconomic status, race, jobs, housing, equity
Workshop with Brenda Clement, Director of Housing Works Rhode Island and Ame Lambert, RWU Chief Diversity Officer.
An overview of housing issues in Rhode Island and connections to the larger social justice agenda.
September 25, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: People on the move for the week of Sept. 17
Posted Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Rhode Island LISC
Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corportation has welcomed two new employees. Jeremiah O’Grady, of Lincoln, joined LISC as program officer after spending more than 12 years at ONE Neighborhood Builders as real estate project manager and director of asset management and operations.
Liz Klinkenberg, of Warwick, was hired as communications director. She brings more than 15 years of public relations experience to her new position, including work for The Miami Herald and The Providence Journal.
The Providence American: Reed Announces $300k in Community Development Grants for NeighborWorks Affiliates
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to promote healthy, vibrant neighborhoods across Rhode Island, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced an additional $300,000 in federal funding for three Rhode Island-based affiliates of NeighborWorks America (NeighborWorks). These federal funds will help NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, and West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation to provide affordable housing opportunities, generate job growth, and enhance economic stability for working families. Earlier this year, Senator Reed also helped to secure over $750,000 in federal funding for NeighborWorks affiliates in Rhode Island, bringing total NeighborWorks investment in the state to above $1 million for fiscal year 2017.
September 21, 2017 in Federal News, Local Interest
The Providence American: Providence Unveils PVD Gives Donation Station
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined members of the City Council, public safety officials, and community leaders who have been named to the PVD Gives commission for the unveiling of the City’s first Donation Station at Kennedy Plaza. The retrofitted parking meter is one of ten stations that will be installed across the city to collect funds that will support local organizations that provide housing and services to those in need.
“PVD Gives and the new Donation Stations make it easier to give back,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our collective generosity can make all the difference in the lives of those striving to get back on their feet. I encourage visitors and residents to chip in and be part of the solution.”
September 21, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: Report: New England losing 65 acres of forestland per day
By Steve LeBlanc / Associated Press
Posted Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
BOSTON — New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day — a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land, both state and federal, has also been on the decline in all six states.
That’s the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University.
The study found public funding for land conservation in New England dropped by half between 2008 and 2014 to $62 million per year, slightly lower than 2004 levels.
PROVIDENCE – The latest national magazine to sing the praises of Providence was Vogue, in its March 15 edition, in an article entitled, “Why Providence Should Be Your Next Weekend Getaway” when looking for great food, music and art.
The story by writer Julia Sherman began with an evocative opening sentence: “For now, I bounce from coast to coast, but I plan to die in Providence.”
Sherman continued: “I was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design more than a decade ago, and the magic of that jewel-box of a city still pulls on my heartstrings. It’s the Victorian homes, industrial buildings, the charmingly gruff New England personalities, and concentration of Italian-American markets that have kept me coming back.”
In Sherman’s view, “The town is divided by the Providence River, separating the posh, College Hill area to its east, and the grittier, fast-developing downtown, Olneyville, Federal Hill, and Atwells to the west. Most tourists will cling to the picturesque, colonial Benefit Street, with its gas lamps and pristine mansions, but that’s only a tiny sliver of what the city has to offer. This place has chutzpah. It’s the blue-collar dive bar and the Ivy League, it’s Mayflower meets crust punk.”
Left out of Sherman’s travelogue was the West End of Providence, where tourists can encounter what many residents call the cultural mecca of diversity in Providence, with Cranston Street serving as a kind of international boulevard.
Angela B. Ankoma, executive vice president and director of Community Investment at United Way of Rhode Island and a long-time resident of the West End community of Providence, hopes that one day the West End and Cranston Street will become “a destination and not a thoroughfare.”
Ankoma, who grew up in the West End, a child of African immigrants, and who is now raising her family there, thought it was a great idea that travelers should come to Providence and see the city as a destination place those who hunger for a terrific cultural experience.
“I agree,” Ankoma said emphatically, during a recent impromptu tour of the West End neighborhood with ConvergenceRI. “They should.”
The West End of Providence, Ankoma continued, can be seen as the cultural mecca of Providence’s diverse communities. “I want the West End to be one of those places that you have to go there to experience what it is like to be among the various cultures of the world who call Providence home. I want it to be a destination, not a pass through.”
But, Ankoma added: “Let’s just make sure that people who live in Providence can stay in Providence. That’s my concern. I want to be able to stay here. I want to be able to grow old here. You should be able to [do so]. There should be thoughtful, intentional actions to ensure all of us can enjoy living here.”
What makes up an “engaged” community?
The idea of an impromptu tour grew out of a series of ongoing conversations that ConvergenceRI has had with Ankoma and others over the last year, attempting to answer what was the meaning of neighborhood and community in the digital world of the 21st century we live in.
How was a neighborhood identified and recognized? Was it by geographical or cultural boundaries? Was it where you lived? Where your family had lived? More importantly, how did residents see themselves as belonging as members of an engaged community, during a time when boundaries were becoming more fluid, where shopping was more often done online, and when social media was often the predominant source of connection?
Those questions have taken on a sense of urgency as Providence continues to attract new companies, new enterprises and the new talent to fill the job opportunities, and with it, the increased pressures of real estate development that puts stress on existing residents not to be displaced by higher rents caused by gentrification and, with it, the growing lack of affordable housing.
One response to define “engagement” has been the TogetherRI initiative by The Rhode Island Foundation, which launches this week, an attempt by the community foundation to address what Neil Steinberg, the president and CEO, called the increasing feeling of not being heard by Rhode Islanders.
A different kind of conversation will take place on Saturday, April 28, at the Neighborhood Housing Summit, to be held at the Southside Cultural Center on Broad Street, to talk with residents of the communities of South Providence and the West End to “prepare your community for the future through vision setting, housing education and dialogue.”
A third approach to redefining the West End community is the more tangible construction of Urban Greens, with its poured concrete and steel in the ground, the first full-service large grocery store in the neighborhood.
As Ankoma described the importance of Urban Greens, “It’s good to have a diversity of choices – a corner store if you want.” But, before the expansion of Urban Greens, “There were no large full-service markets in the neighborhood.”
Ankoma continued: ‘You can become an investor; you can be a member. You can go there to shop, maybe have a meeting, or have some coffee. I think it is time for us to have that option in the West End neighborhood.”
Another important approach to redefining community is the work being done by the West Elmwood Community Development Corporation and its Sankofa Initiative, which has built affordable housing and connected it with urban growing spaces, including a hoop greenhouse, and a new commercial kitchen, to complement its Sankofa summertime marketplace.
Defining boundaries in the West End
The impromptu tour of the West End began on Bucklin Street at the West End Community Center and the West End Recreation Center, adjacent to Bucklin Park, which Ankoma called “the Central Park of the West End, because it is the center of everything.”
On a cold Saturday morning in mid-March, there was a steady stream of children and parents entering and leaving the recreation center.
Originally, the park had once been a spring-fed pond, surrounded by farmland, and the location of the Bucklin Ice Company, according to Ankoma.
The name of Bucklin came from James Bucklin, a Providence architect who was the designer of The Arcade in downtown Providence.
At some point, the pond was filled in as the neighborhood changed and became the home of manufacturing and jewelry factories.
Today, the community center, which is separate from the recreation center, has lots of different social services, including a food pantry, a before and after school care program for kids, and a daycare program. The recreation center includes an outdoor pool; the park is home to a host of programs and leagues, including the West Elmwood Intruders football team, and adult baseball and softball leagues.
Given the heavy use of Bucklin Park, the Mayor’s Office has held community meetings about plans to invest in improvements, according to Ankoma.
“From what I understand, this summer there is going to be a substantial investment in an upgrading of [Bucklin Park] and amenities at the park, which will be good,” she said.
In 2016, 300 volunteers and MetLife built a new playground in a day, adjacent to the recreation center, according to Ankoma.
Also in 2016, a group called Friends of Bucklin Park organized residents to work with the city and plant trees and create a butterfly garden, to be more thoughtful about park stewardship, according to Ankoma.
Evolution of a changing neighborhood
The neighborhood of the West End is still largely defined by its former life as the home to numerous factories and manufacturers, which provided steady jobs, and with that, two- and three-family homes that served as affordable residences for workers, attracting each new wave of immigrants to the city for decades.
Today, many of the brick factory buildings are abandoned; others are being repurposed as commercial development; still others have been housing sites.
Ankoma pointed out the abandoned factory where her uncle used to work as well as the former factories that had been recently sold for commercial development to create an indoor shopping space. A third former factory building on Burwell Street is being repurposed as mixed used, including housing, a kind of speakeasy, and a food incubator, according to Ankoma.
“I heard that there is a new ice cream company, The Fountain, that plans to be located there,” ConvergenceRI said.
“An ice cream company? That’s cool,” Ankoma said, and laughed.
Turning onto the congested Cranston Street, crowded with pedestrians and shoppers on a Saturday morning, entering and exiting a multitude of stores, Ankoma talked about the fact that the West End was one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.
“We should celebrate that,” she said.
What’s the best way to celebrate that diversity? ConvergenceRI asked.
“By honoring each culture,” Ankoma responded. “I always think that here we are on Cranston Street, and maybe we should have flags representing all of the different cultures of the neighborhood on display.”
Ankoma continued: “That’s what makes this community great; that’s what makes America great,” and burst out in a peal of laughter, realizing that she invoked President Donald Trump’s trademark phrase, but with a different intent.
How would you designate Cranston Street? ConvergenceRI asked
Ankoma answered: “By [acknowledging] that Cranston Street is an international boulevard, and display flags and murals of all the cultures represented in the community.’
If we were to do cultural celebrations, she said, “We could do it on this street.”
Cranston Street, Ankoma continued, is a corridor – it is the corridor into Providence if you are coming from Cranston. “This is the gateway.”
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