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RI Department of State Announces New Rhode Island Civic Leadership Summit, Founding Partners

Non-partisan civic education program will connect local students to State government

PROVIDENCE, RI Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore and the RI Department of State Civic Education & Engagement Division today announced that the inaugural Rhode Island Civic Leadership Summit will be held April 17 through 19, 2024. The announcement comes as Rhode Island recognizes Civic Learning Week with events statewide focusing on the future of civic participation.

The Rhode Island Department of State offers a suite of non-partisan, civic education-oriented programming and events designed to spark a passion for lifelong civic engagement and empower local students to think critically, tackle challenges, and strengthen our democracy.

This programming includes a student Civic Liaison Program, through which local students nominated by their school participate in monthly workshops where they are introduced to government and community leaders and collaborate on civic action projects in their own communities. There are currently 86 students representing 41 high schools participating in the program, which began in June of 2023.

The Civic Leadership Summit will be the culminating event of the student Civic Liaison Program. The Civic Leadership Summit will be a three-day-long experiential learning program that will provide students the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, participate in professionally guided workshops, and encourage them to think critically about issues and evaluate potential solutions.

"I've spent my first year as Secretary of State visiting local classrooms to talk about civic engagement and meeting with students at the State House, so I know that Rhode Island is home to engaged students who are seeking opportunities to become more involved with their state and local governments, and democracy as a whole," said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. "I am confident that the Rhode Island Civic Leadership Program and its Civic Leadership Summit will be impactful, meaningful, and change-making for these emerging leaders in our state."

The Summit has been designed for high school students of all ages who have demonstrated an interest in civic engagement, public policy, and state government, and is based in part on Project In-Site, a program many current state leaders experienced during their high school years that has not been offered to Rhode Island's youth since 1985.

"Growing up, I was the only kid interested in government. The way in which our world could be changed through voting, debating, and bill writing was something I had to appreciate on my own. For many students, the government felt far away, which is a concerning, dejected sentiment echoed by our current voting age adults," said Sharbel Mikhail, a Saint Raphael Academy student and participant in the student Civic Liaison Program. "This student Civic Liaison Program not only made our government accessible but lit a flame of hope. A hope that I was not the only one who shared this passion for government. A hope that with the skills and tools being offered, we may enact change within our communities."

In addition, Secretary Amore today announced the founding partners whose donations and support will enable the Summit to be offered at no cost to program participants.

In support of the Rhode Island Civic Leadership Program, the Rhode Island Foundation created a new philanthropic fund and made one of the initial contributions to benefit the Department of State's non-partisan programming.

"Community foundations begin with community. Supporting civic education will deepen community engagement and build the connections that are crucial to our work improving education, health care and economic opportunity for all," said David N. Cicilline, the Foundation's president and CEO.

Corporate sponsors include The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, BankNewport, Bally's Corporation, and Cox Communications.

"Civic engagement fosters a knowledgeable and inclusive community, enhancing the quality of decision-making and facilitating innovative problem-solving for issues of public concern, ultimately benefiting personal and community development. As a community-oriented organization, Beacon encourages civic engagement, and its Foundation is supporting initiatives like the Rhode Island Civic Leadership Summit," said Amy Vitale, Esq., Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer of The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company.

Educational institutions and organizations also demonstrated their commitment to this programming through financial support, including Rhode Island College, the National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI), the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP), and the East Providence Education Association.

"As an anchor institution for our state, Rhode Island College is proud to partner with Secretary of State Amore on the inaugural Rhode Island Civic Leadership Summit. We believe that higher education plays a crucial role in developing the next generation of highly engaged civic leaders. Experiential learning opportunities like this are an important way to provide students with the tools they need to be active and empowered stewards of our lively experiment," said Rhode Island College President Dr. Jack Warner.

Through the generosity of these sponsors, students will attend the RI Civic Leadership Summit at no cost.

"I'm very honored and proud to have been selected by my teachers and represent my school. I am a "Gen Z" and we need to be more active and involved in government; this program has given me the opportunity and exposure to the inner workings of state government. Civic leadership is all about groups of people from different backgrounds finding common interests, taking action to address community issues, and advocating for a positive change across the community," said Min Lombardi, an East Greenwich High School student and participant in the student Civic Liaison Program. "The fact that this Summit is free of charge means that there are no barriers to entry; the government should be open and transparent for everybody. I'm looking forward to learning how government works and I hope it helps me explore my interests that I might have working within government."

Individuals or organizations who are interested in learning more about the Summit, the Rhode Island Civic Leadership Program, or the Department of State's efforts around civic engagement can reach out to Eileen Sweeney, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement, at esweeney@sos.ri.gov. Donations can also be made online through the Rhode Island Foundation at www.rifoundation.org/riclp. Sponsorship opportunities are available at all financial levels, and the RI Department of State looks forward to welcoming additional founding partners.

To learn more about the RI Department of State's civic education programming, visit sos.ri.gov.

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About the RI Department of State The RI Department of State serves Rhode Islanders by promoting transparent government, supporting businesses, and strengthening our democracy through a commitment to civic engagement, secure elections, and empowering voters. Learn more at sos.ri.gov.

About the Rhode Island Foundation The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through civic leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is improving the lives of all Rhode Islanders. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

About Bally's Bally's Corporation is a global casino-entertainment company with a growing omni-channel presence of Online Sports Betting and iGaming offerings. It currently owns and manages 16 casinos across 10 states, a golf course in New York, a horse racetrack in Colorado, and has access to OSB licenses in 18 states. It also owns Bally's Interactive International, formerly Gamesys Group, a leading, global, online gaming operator, Bally Bet, a first-in-class sports betting platform, and Bally Casino, a growing iCasino platform. With 10,500 employees, the Company's casino operations include approximately 15,000 slot machines, 600 table games and 5,300 hotel rooms. Upon completing the construction of a permanent casino facility in Chicago, IL, and a land-based casino near the Nittany Mall in State College, PA, Bally's will own and/or manage 17 casinos across 11 states. Its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BALY.

About BankNewport Founded in 1819 and headquartered in Newport, BankNewport offers a full suite of loan and deposit products and services for families and businesses throughout Rhode Island. BankNewport is one of the longest-standing community banks in the United States and, as a mutual organization, is committed to the financial success of its customers, employees, and communities. BankNewport has 19 branch locations and a commercial lending office in Providence. OceanPoint Marine Lending, a business line of BankNewport, specializes in consumer marine and recreational vehicle financing programs.

Through its All In Giving program, BankNewport is committed to supporting nonprofits with areas of impact focused on basic human needs, children and families, education, economic security, healthy lives, arts and culture, and the environment. BankNewport has awarded over $9.8 million in grants, sponsorships, and donations over the past ten years to a wide range of nonprofits to help strengthen and enrich lives and communities throughout Rhode Island. Financial education and community service performed by employees totals 10,000 hours annually. For more information, please visit www.BankNewport.com.

About the Beacon Mutual Insurance Company For over 30 years, Beacon Mutual has proudly served as the leading provider of workers' compensation insurance in Rhode Island. Beacon is committed to protecting employers and employees through high-quality safety training programs and educational resources to prevent workplace accidents, and to return injured employees to work with compassion and care. For more information, please visit: www.beaconmutual.com.

About Cox Communications Cox Communications is committed to creating meaningful moments of human connection through technology. As the largest private broadband company in America, we operate fiber-powered networks in more than 30 states, providing connections and advanced managed IT and cloud services for nearly seven million homes and businesses nationwide. We're dedicated to empowering others to build a better future and celebrate diverse products, people, suppliers, communities and the characteristics that make each one unique. Cox Communications is the largest division of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned business founded in 1898 by Governor James M. Cox.

About the East Providence Education Association The East Providence Education Association (EPEA) is a dedicated group of educators committed to fostering excellence in education within the East Providence community. Our primary mission is to ensure that every student in East Providence receives a high-quality education that prepares them for success in the 21st century. Learn more at https://www.epeducationassociation.org/.

About the National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) The National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) is a union and professional organization with a proud history of serving Rhode Island since 1845. NEARI is 12,000 members strong, we are classroom teachers; education support professionals; higher education faculty, staff, and graduate assistants; municipal and state workers; and retirees. We are affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA) and RI AFL-CIO. Learn more at www.neari.org.

About Rhode Island College Rhode Island College is a regional comprehensive public college that serves approximately 5,800 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students through its five schools: The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Business, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work. Established in 1854, it is Rhode Island's first public institution of higher education, and the first four-year college in the state to be a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution.

About the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals The quality of our schools and the availability of affordable health care continue to be two of the most talked about issues in our state. These issues are at the cornerstone of the RIFTHP. The Federation is a diverse organization, representing more than 12,000 members who work as teachers, nurses and other health professionals, school related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, and state and municipal employees. Learn more at https://www.rifthp.org/.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
  • Online: http://www.sos.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 03-14-2024

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