“This is a historic moment in the community’s commitment to the students and families of Providence,” said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “We are grateful for the generous support of Brown University, and we look forward to working in partnership with President Paxson and her team as we work to transform Providence schools. What’s more, we hope Brown’s commitment inspires Rhode Island’s corporate and philanthropic leaders to contribute even more to this compelling cause.”
After decades of disappointing student performance, Infante-Green assumed control of PPSD in November 2019. “Turning Hope Into Results: A Turnaround Action Plan for the Providence Public School District” was released in June and sets ambitious goals for change and student achievement in the city’s schools. The plan was informed by an extensive community engagement effort, and its implementation will depend on a concerted effort to remain engaged with the families and neighborhoods of Providence.
“I am deeply gratified that President Paxson and Brown University have continued to take a leadership role in supporting the educational needs of the city’s student body,” said Harrison Peters, turnaround superintendent of Providence Public Schools. “The Providence Public School District and Brown University share a common belief that the welfare and education of our young people are the collective responsibility of the entire Providence community. I am excited about the prospect of future collaborations and their positive impact on our schools.”
In a July 29 letter to the Brown community announcing the fulfillment of the $10 million funding goal, Paxson said a new oversight committee including campus and community stakeholders will be established to recommend use of the funds in ways that can most benefit Providence students. She noted that an upcoming project supported by the Fund will transform Hope High School’s library and media center, creating a 21st century learning environment for students in the Providence secondary school.
“It truly takes a village to raise a child, and it will require the support of every community member to ensure that Providence students receive the 21st century education they need to succeed,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Under President Paxson's leadership, Brown University has continued to work closely with the city and the Urban Innovation Partnership to identify needs within our local education system. I am excited to see the ways in which this fund will support the long-term and impactful changes we hope to see, like supporting innovative programs that encourage holistic growth, in Providence Public Schools.”
Since 2009, the Fund has provided financial support to PPSD schools and students for technology, supplies, musical instruments and scholarships for college-bound students from underrepresented groups. While Brown has progressively raised funds toward the $10 million goal since the Fund’s establishment and — independent of fundraising — had dedicated more than $800,000 annually in financial support for local schools and students, Paxson said the need to do more became acute in 2019. That year, an external review of PPSD schools by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy identified serious challenges with teaching, curriculum, morale, safety, governance and physical infrastructure, and led to the state’s intervention.
Brown’s actions to fulfill the Fund’s $10 million goal, create an oversight committee and launch the Hope High School project follow discussions with local education leaders to identify ways for the University to focus and strengthen support for efforts to improve public education.
As an endowment, the Fund will provide for annual spending in support of specific initiatives. With $10 million in principal, Brown expects an initial payout of approximately $400,000 to $500,000 annually. While this will serve as the core of consistent financial support from the University, Paxson said that Brown will continue to invest in the wide range of existing programs and initiatives that support Providence schools and students.