City of Providence Awarded Grant as Part of National Program to Increase Health, Economic Opportunity


Providence, RI – Mayor Elorza announced that the City of Providence has received a
two-year, $200,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation for Sowing Place. The project is
made possible through a partnership between City of Providence Department of Art,
Culture + Tourism, City of Providence Healthy Communities Office, the African
Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI), Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, West
Elmwood Housing Development Corporation and the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode

Providence is one of 23 organizations from across the U.S. receiving a grant as part
of The Kresge Foundation’s initiative, Fresh, Local & Equitable (FreshLo), which
supports neighborhood-scale projects leveraging healthy food and Creative
Placemaking for equitable economic development.

«We are the Creative Capital and that means that we support the artistic and
innovative communities here in our city,» said Mayor Jorge Elorza. «We appreciate
the investment that Kresge’s FreshLo initiative has made, and continues to make, in
our neighborhoods. This work and the work of our partners have allowed us to deepen
our community connections and support innovative projects in the arts, food and
health sectors while promoting equity citywide.»

After being selected to participate in FreshLo in 2016, the City and partners
completed a one-year planning phase for Sowing Place with a $75,000 grant from
Kresge. During the past year, the group strengthened their community partnerships,
hired artist facilitators (Vatic Kuumba and Laura Brown-Lavoie) to guide the project
and lead community engagement, collaborated on pilot arts integrated and site
specific market events and designed an implementation plan.

«We’re inspired by the work of Providence and how they engaged neighborhood
residents to create a shared vision for Sowing Place,» said Stacey Barbas, senior
program officer with Kresge’s Health Program. «Over the last year, this organization
has worked tirelessly to develop a project that reflects the culture and values of
their neighborhoods.»

FreshLo embodies The Kresge Foundation’s philosophy that catalytic change to improve
opportunity for low-income persons in America’s cities requires multidimensional
approaches – not simply one program or sector working alone. By incorporating
Creative Placemaking – the deliberate integration of arts, culture and
community-engaged design into comprehensive community development – residents and
community partners can creatively address complex issues such as food insecurity,
vacancy and health outcomes.

«Over the past year, we have worked with the City and its partners to move through
the creative process of designing a group project that each partner felt committed
to,» said the artist facilitation team of Vatic Kuumba and Laura Brown-Lavoie in a
project statement. «We are here to ensure that this project is an art project from
its very inception, with the playful and visionary spirit that such an attitude

Over the next two years, the City of Providence, along with partners, plans to
increase capacity for local food growers and artistic vendors by maximizing
collaborative assets and integrating arts into food-oriented activities. During the
implementation phase, Sowing Place will:

* Develop and support cooperative and micro business trainings specifically
oriented for neighborhood food and arts vendors

* Increase the Sankofa Market footprint through collaboration and market
extension at the Southside Cultural Center’s Southlight Pavilion

* Support the launch of new AARI pop-up markets at neighborhood healthcare

* Connect community partners to ongoing and emerging City initiatives to
strengthen public/private relationships and collaborative visioning

About the City of Providence Partnership
The Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (AC+T) ensures the continued
development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into
community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination.
The Department works to support, engage, and encourage the creative sector’s
participation in civic life. AC+T collaborates with other City departments and
partners across the the city to present public programs and PVDFest, to implement
creative placemaking initiatives, to promote art, culture, and creativity, and to
advance the community-wide goals through the city’s cultural policy, initiatives,
and investment.

The Providence Healthy Communities Office (HCO) is the City’s lead agency for health
policy, activities, and systems and environmental changes. The HCO works to ensure
that Providence residents have equitable access to the resources they need to lead
healthy lives. The HCO collaborates with other departments and community partners on
wide variety of population health-related initiatives such as substance abuse
prevention, healthy food access, chronic disease management, active lifestyles, and
creative playspaces.

About the Community Partners
The African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI) is a community-based organization that
promotes unity, economic empowerment and common good among African and other
immigrants and refugees living in Rhode Island. For more than a decade, AARI has
worked with diverse populations of refugees and immigrants in Providence’s poorest
neighborhoods to develop urban farming projects that produce fresh ethnic vegetables
for people living in food deserts. The African Alliance is dedicated to promoting
healthy life styles for all and helping promote resources that improve health,
economic opportunities and increase interaction and collaborations with the general

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) is a non-profit
organization working within an alliance of individuals to promote environmental
justice in Rhode Island through advocacy, education, networking, organizing, and
research. Their mission is to promote safe and healthy environments for ALL by
building power, leadership and action in the communities most affected by
environmental burdens. EJLRI envisions a Rhode Island where we all have a healthy
place to live, work, and play regardless of race, ethnicity, or income.
The Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island (SCCRI) connects, cultivates and
engages community through the arts. SCCRI envisions a vibrant, connected community
engaged in discovering, exploring, and creating art. The heartbeat of its Southside,
West End, and Elmwood neighborhoods, SCCRI nurtures the voices of artists of color
and cultivates leaders who lift up our people. The warmth, enthusiasm, and unity of
the cultural hub echo throughout Rhode Island, and serves as an example of inclusive
art making, kinship, and cultural expression.

West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) is a private, not-for-profit
organization incorporated in 1970. The mission is to promote the development of
healthy, sustainable communities through housing services to help individuals and
neighborhoods meet their affordable housing needs in the West End neighborhood and
other parts of Providence and Rhode Island. WEHDC strives to fulfill this mission by
enabling home ownership, community engagement and economic development.

About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to
expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in
arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community
development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling
$141.5 million, and made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million.
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