Rhode Island


Implementation Grant Winner

The Newport Working Cities team envisions a community in which all its community members, particularly the most disenfranchised, can gain the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to earn a livable wage. The team aims to bring previously isolated groups together to address interconnected issues that contribute to unemployment, underemployment, and poverty. Its goal is to create resilient communities with empowered members.

The Newport Working Cities team is helping build a workforce development system that prepares unemployed and underemployed Newport residents for higher-skilled and higher paying jobs. This will also create a pipeline of candidates to fill vacancies in high-demand industries across the city.

Problem Problem

Strategy Strategy

The Newport Working Cities team has developed numerous strategies to reduce poverty and disparities between groups. Early in its life, the group broke into four workgroups that focused on residents, K-12, young adults (18-26), and adults. Each team proposed a "dream room/resource center" to serve as a one-stop career center that would help both residents and employers setting residents helping to set community members on a career path and helping employers fill vacancies.

Additional strategies include:

  1. Working with local businesses to increase job training opportunities for youth
  2. Matching students to mentors within the public schools to provide better guidance and support to students and parents
  3. Providing more in-school opportunities for experiential learning
  4. Exploring entrepreneurial- and asset-based approaches to lowering various work barriers, such as transportation and child care

Developing credential and job-training and apprenticeship programs that build on each other and lead community members down promising career pathways

Vision Vision

The Team The Team

  • Kathryn Cantwell, Strategic Initiative Director
  • Lola Herrera, Resource Navigator
  • Ellen Pinnock, School Culture and Climate AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Nycole Matthews, Community Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Phyllis Mulligan, Dream Room Strategy Lead Resident
  • Dianne Ford, Career and Education Pathways Americorps VISTA
  • Jasmine Lindesey, Cliff Effect Lead Resident
  • Joseph Pratt, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County
  • Joseph Tomchak, Deputy Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County
  • Laura Rossier, North End Resident
  • Dr. Colleen Burn Jermain, Newport Public Schools Superintendent
  • Sarah Atkins, City of Newport
  • Elizabeth McDowell and Brian Hannon, East Bay Community Action Program
  • Erin Donovan Boyle, Chamber of Commerce
  • Joseph Tomchak, Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County
  • Rhonda Mitchell, Newport Housing Authority
  • Pauline Moye, Newport Housing Authority
  • Michael Perez, Cliff Effect AmeriCorps VISTA & Cross Point Church
  • Sydney Ormerod, Elizabeth Fuerte, and Rex LeBeau, Newport Health Equity Zone
  • Jessica Walsh, Newport Health Equity Zone
  • Louisa Boatwright, Newport School Committee
  • Tom Kowalcyk, Resident and Jobs of the Future Advocate

“The Working Cities Challenge is enabling people here in Newport to better collaborate on ways to lower barriers for families living in poverty. And this is real change, it can’t be easily undone. We’ve also been able to fund pilot projects that are helping us understand how to improve existing programs, and even entire systems. This isn’t just about viewing things through an economic development lens, we’re considering other factors which affect quality of life, such as health and housing. Another critical thing we’re learning early on is how to use the strengths of each and every person and organization to solve our challenges. We know we need everyone.”

Kathryn Cantwell, Boys and Girls Club Newport