Youth & Education
Providence is ALL IN FOR EDUCATION and Mayor Elorza believes that community input, like that provided at the ALL IN Providence Education Summit, is essential to planning for the future of our city. The ALL IN Summit brought together hundreds of community members including parents, students, educators, community and business leaders, and youth serving organizations, to build and support a cohesive vision for education in Providence, and to build momentum around student-centered community action.
Mayor Elorza understands that investing in Providence children, from cradle to career, is essential to ensuring they get ahead. Because of this, Providence is ALL IN for education and the long-term success of youth. The ALL IN: Cradle to Career initiative highlights resources and opportunities for every single young person, at every age, both in and out of our schools.
Eat, Play, Learn PVD is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office, Providence Healthy Communities, Providence Parks, Providence Recreation, Providence Public Schools and Providence Art, Culture + Tourism to increase access to high quality, affordable, educational and creative summer programs for students.
The EAT, PLAY, LEARN PVD summer program recently won a $25,000 grant from the United States Conference of Mayors for providing youth with access to camps, meals and learning opportunities. Providence was one of six cities to receive the 2018 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards during the organization’s 86th Winter Meeting in Washington D.C.
Mayor Elorza believes that all children should have the opportunity to thrive in a supportive learning environment that is conducive to 21st century-learning. Investing in 21st century technologies enables educators to carry out effective personalized learning approaches, and allows our students to learn beyond the classroom. Providence has made a commitment to increase our students’ access-to-technology, so that every child in every classroom has access to a tablet, laptop or computer when they need it. Since taking office, the City has invested $1 million in 10,000 new Chromebook computers to bring the total number of classroom computers to 18,000. To date, Providence is 90 percent of the way towards achieving that goal and expects to reach 100 percent by the end of summer 2018.
Passport to Summer Learning is a collaborative effort by the Mayor’s Office, Providence Public School Department, Providence Public Library and Providence Community Library, to creatively engage students and their families and encourage young students to read during the summer break with the aim of limiting summer learning loss.
All Providence public school students Pre-K through 5th grade receive the passport before the end of the school year. It serves as a summer guide and reading tracker in both Spanish and English for learning and adventures. Within the passport, students can color in a map to track reading and discover new places throughout Providence to visit.
Providence Talks was developed during Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first Mayors Challenge in 2013. The City of Providence was the grand prize winner of the challenge and received $5 million to implement the initiative. Providence Talks proposes to do something never before attempted at the municipal level: to intervene at a critically early age, from birth to age three, to close the “30-million word gap” at a city-wide scale and ensure that every child in Providence enters a kindergarten classroom ready to achieve at extraordinary levels.
Providence Talks is the only program in the nation specifically designed to address the word gap and serves as a national model for other cities to replicate. The program recently celebrated its 2,500th enrolled participant, representing 20 percent of the city’s eligible population.
The Bradford Scholarship aims to assist Providence public school and public charter school students pursuing a college education who demonstrate financial need through individual $750 awards. As established in Edward Hinkling Bradford’s 1974 will, the scholarship grants Providence students an award “without reference to excellence in scholarship,” who may be unable to obtain financial assistance for costs beyond tuition and will also take into account attendance and extracurricular service, among other factors. In 2017, 90 scholarships providing $70,000 in financial support were awarded.
As part of the FY18 budget, Mayor Elorza invested $750,000 to create seven School Culture Coordinators at all seven of Providence’s middle schools. School Culture Coordinators provide a supportive and inspiring learning environment for our Providence Public School community. They work with administrators on site to leverage community partners for additional in-school and out-of-school assistance, increase leadership opportunities for students and offer greater levels of social-emotional support.
It has been a priority of Mayor Elorza to find innovative ways to improve the quality of education and increase access-to-technology for Providence students. As part of this vision, the city has partnered with Sprint’s 1Million Project to give 850 Providence high school students access to the internet to do schoolwork from home.
Every student should be able to learn in an environment that promotes a culture of excellence, has top-notch facilities to inspire them to learn and that allows for faculty and staff to engage with students in collaborative and innovative ways. That’s why the City invested over $10 million in public school infrastructure improvements in 2017 and because of practical and responsible budgeting practices, Providence has committed to invest up to $400 million dollars in public school facilities over the next ten years.
Youth & Education: Recreational Investments
Finding affordable childcare can be challenging, especially during the summer. To address this challenge, Mayor Elorza expanded summer learning and recreational opportunities at a cost of only $5 per week for Providence residents. In addition to keeping camps affordable, the City has also expanded the number of day camps from four to nine. Summer camp participants were also served 145,000 free summer meals at all recreation centers and 33 parks citywide in 2017.
Mayor Elorza has been committed to providing more access to sports and recreation activities to residents of all ages because they improve quality of life and help make our neighborhoods safer and more vibrant. The City invested over $900,000 in recreation programming over the last year, increasing the number of day camps in the summer months – from four to nine and introduced 58 new recreational programs over the last two years.
Additionally, Mayor Elorza expanded recreation programming to take place year-round. Providence residents can participate in recreation activities in the fall and winter in addition to popular summer programs, including the Midnight Basketball League splash water parks, swimming pools, specialty camps, and more.
Providence recreation centers add to the vibrancy of our neighborhoods as places where the entire community can come together for family-friendly activities. This past year, the city served over 145,000 free summer meals to Providence youth at all recreation centers and 33 parks citywide and opened two new recreation centers: Robert F. Kennedy Center in Ward 14 and the Armand E. Batastini Jr. Center in Ward 5, bringing the total number of Providence Recreation Centers to 11. Whether it’s recreational activities, educational programs or social gathering events, our recreation centers are places for residents of all ages to come together and enjoy.
To expand programming for young adults, Mayor Elorza along with the Providence Recreation Department and Providence Police Department launched the Providence Midnight Basketball League, a free basketball program for young adults during the summer months. This league provides an opportunity for residents, ages 18 or older, to play recreational basketball, make new friends and enjoy a competitive, team building environment across basketball courts in Providence.
Jobs & Economic Opportunity
The Office of Economic Opportunity was launched in July 2017 to expand opportunities for the City’s low-income and unemployed residents to gain the skills and credentials needed to succeed in the 21st Century economy, reduce income inequality, and break the cycle of inter-generational poverty. The Office of Economic Opportunity aims to support economic growth, improve quality of life, and strengthen communities and neighborhoods.
The PVD Self-Employment Program provides up to 100 unemployed and under-employed Providence residents with the entrepreneurship training and support necessary to allow them to start their own businesses and be reemployed. This is a great opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to gain important skills and education to successfully launch and grow their business.
Under Mayor Elorza, the City created PVD HealthWorks, a specialized healthcare and social assistance (HSA) workforce development partnership that creates training pipelines, career pathways, and other workforce solutions for individuals interested in accessing careers in the healthcare and social assistance industry.
In alignment with Mayor Elorza’s vision for a city with economic and educational opportunity for all, Providence will offer more opportunities through increased funding, better alignment of existing programs, and the engagement of more program partners. The number of employed youth more than doubled from 500 in 2016 to over 1,000 in 2017.
The Providence Business Loan Fund (PBLF) formerly the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) was established more than 25 years ago to assist Providence-based businesses to grow and to create employment opportunities throughout the city. The PBLF seeks to help businesses of all types and sizes to succeed by providing loans and technical support.
The City of Providence is a hotbed for design, one of the fastest growing sectors locally and nationally. Mayor Elorza, along with partners, continues to invest in local creative entrepreneurs and design businesses through the Providence Design Catalyst. The competitive design grant program provides qualifying Providence design-driven businesses with $90,000 in grant funding capital, business mentorship, and professional development training.
Mayor Elorza believes that Providence is at its best when every single resident is given opportunities to succeed, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status. By allocating $200,000 to Amos House’s “A Hand Up Program,” Providence’s most vulnerable, underemployed, or unemployed residents can receive resources and employment opportunities. To date, more than 350 individuals have participated in A Hand Up and around 40 previous participants are now employed with full or part time jobs.
In 2015, Mayor Elorza along with the City Council proposed the Providence Neighborhood Revitalization Act (Neighborhood TSA), a tax incentive program aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods. The program provides important protections for Providence’s taxpayers and residents by creating a transparent and standardized process for developers to participate. Eligible projects must be between $250,000 and $3 million, and can include commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use projects as well as both new construction and the rehabilitation of existing properties. Nineteen of Providence’s 25 neighborhoods have been designated as Opportunity Neighborhoods, eligible for the Neighborhood TSA.
In an effort to help spur business development in the land formerly occupied by I-195, Mayor Elorza signed a tax stabilization ordinance into law. This tax incentive program offers developers a transparent and predictable process to invest in Providence. Developed with partners at the state and federal level, the tax incentive program works as a tool that will encourage economic activity and help strengthen Providence’s resurgence.
As momentum for the former I-195 land continues, there have been many new developments. This includes a 1.4-mile Enhanced Transit Corridor in Downtown Providence, the completion of South Street Landing, the development of the Wexford Innovation Complex, Chestnut Commons, a Pedestrian Bridge built on the pylons of the former highway and the Johnson & Wales Science and Innovation Center.
Providence is a city on the rise and has both the quality of life and the quality of space to build an economy and workforce of the future. The city has over 60 significant projects that are either under construction or in the pipeline. Whether it’s the redesign of the 6/10 Connector, our growing Innovation and Design District, or the Woonasquatucket River Corridor, there is now more development happening in Providence today than at any time over the last decade.
Providence has become a world-class destination due in part to the vibrancy of our amazing neighborhoods. To advance the momentum taking place in our communities, Mayor Elorza has continued strategic investments and partnerships with local community organizations. His administration has hosted a series of Community Conversations and Neighborhood Planning workshops in order to build a City that works for everyone.
Collaborative projects include the Celebrate Broad Street Initiative that includes $4.3 million in funding for bike and pedestrian safety improvements and cultural tourism initiatives. Additionally, the city has dedicated $1.3 million to the Illuminating Trinity creative placemaking partnership, which allows community partners to come together and enhance the cultural vitality of Trinity Square. As partners continue to collaborate, the Broad Street area is positioned to be one of the most diverse and culturally-rich corridors in the capital city.
Another area that has seen rapid development is the Woonasquatucket River Corridor, which focuses on Arts and Innovation, but also possesses ample space for light manufacturing, processing and commercial industries. Over the last year, the city hosted Woonasquatucket Vision Plan Workshops, which incorporates residents’ thoughts and ideas into the redevelopment process.
The City has also announced new investments in the Valley and Olneyville neighborhoods, including a Food Hub that will host the new Farm Fresh RI facility, which received a loan through the Providence Business Loan Fund; revamping the 6/10 Connector, the largest ever single project in RIDOT history; a $6 million extension of the Woonasquatucket Greenway; and a partnership with One Neighborhood Builders, who are focused on revitalizing the Olneyville and Elmhurst neighborhoods through new commercial and housing development.
The Providence Port is an industrial and economic engine for our entire state and region. To expand capacity in the port, Mayor Elorza advocated for the State of Rhode Island to pass a $20 million-bond in 2016. The expansion of the Port could increase Providence’s revenue, imports and exports and create good-paying jobs for residents.
As part of Mayor Elorza’s commitment to long-term planning throughout the City, Providence has adopted a five-year comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to borrow $45 million for infrastructure improvements throughout the city. The goal of the CIP is to facilitate and prioritize future capital improvements within the City’s current and future financial framework while creating a predictable and appropriate list of planned investments. The CIP outlines projects that need investment to keep Providence strong from the ground up.
In 2015, Mayor Jorge Elorza created the EveryHome program in an effort to revitalize and fill every abandoned home in the City of Providence. Since its inception, the City is utilizing a suite of tools to bring the City’s vacant and abandoned residential properties back into productive reuse. As the suite of tools evolves to best fit resident’s needs, EveryHome works to protect, restore and renew Providence’s neighborhoods.
In 2016, the City of Providence served 145,000 free summer meals to youth at recreation centers, parks, and in collaboration with youth based organizations and programming.
Meals under the program are available to all enrolled participants without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and will be served at no separate charge. The program under the Parks Department purview is available in 11 of the City’s recreation centers, offered Monday through Friday, including school vacations to residents under the age of 18. Those interested can check with their local recreation center for meal time and menu.
The opioid epidemic is a growing public health crisis that has swept across our nation. In response, Mayor Elorza announced the creation of Providence Safe Stations, which provides individuals suffering from opioid-dependence and other substance use disorders the ability to speak with the trained staff on duty and immediately get connected to treatment, support and recovery services in Providence. Based on a successful program model from Manchester, NH and in alignment with the State of Rhode Island’s Overdose Prevention Action Plan, Providence Safe Stations is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, at all of Providence’s 12 fire stations.
Body-Worn Cameras (BWC’s) are being utilized by the Providence Police Department to help promote officer safety, provide evidence for criminal prosecutions, assist in resolving citizen complaints and to foster positive relationships within the community. BWC’s will be worn directly on the officer’s uniform, in the center of their chest and in plain sight to the public. Officers will be required to activate their BWC’s when responding to most calls for service or official activities that occur during their scheduled tours of duty or detail assignments.
When officers respond to incidents where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, for either the officer or a member of the public, officers will be generally prohibited from activating their camera or continuing to record.
In November 2015, Mayor Elorza issued an executive order commissioning the Advisory Council to Reduce Gun Violence. The council, composed of criminal justice, conflict resolution and social justice experts, work to develop a collaborative strategy for gun violence reduction that is based on best practices. Mayor Elorza and the Gun Advisory Council continue to pursue means to address gun violence and support state legislation that increases the quality of life for all residents in Providence.
In November 2016, Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an executive order creating the Muslim-American Advisory Board as part of the One Providence initiative. The Muslim-American Advisory Board is charged with creating a system that better serves and empowers the Muslim-American community in Providence, helping guide Mayor Elorza’s policy decisions that affect Muslim-Americans and enhance the understanding of the religion of Islam by encouraging dialogue and promoting mutual understanding amongst religions.
Mayor Elorza has been an outspoken national voice in support of immigrant and refugee communities. As co-chair of the United States Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) Task Force for Immigration Reform, the Mayor has signed on to various letters urging Congress and the Administration to enact comprehensive immigration reform; continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and in opposition of the travel ban. Mayor Elorza has met with members of Congress, White House officials including US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, to discuss the impact of immigration policies in cities. Since the presidential election, the City has also helped organize “Know Your Rights” forums, citizenship clinics, and immigration workshops. In early 2017, Providence Public Schools opened a newcomer program that provides specialized support and resources to students who recently arrived in the US. The City will launch a municipal identification program in spring 2018 to help underserved communities that face difficulties acquiring state-issued identification, including immigrants. Mayor Elorza also serves as Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Community Development and Housing and is a member of USCM’s Advisory Board.
In an effort to reduce homelessness in Providence, Mayor Elorza announced the launch of PVD Gives to help raise funds for local organizations that provide housing and services to those in need. Through the online donation platform and Donation Stations throughout the City, you can donate today to help individuals experiencing homelessness in Providence.
PVDFest, Providence’s signature art festival has grown to be the largest festival in the state. Along with founding creative partner Firstworks and the Providence ACT, PVDFest brings the culture and culinary community together with artists from across the country and globe to deliver a once in a lifetime experience. Live music, dance, food, and visual art installations transform the city into a four-day, multi-arts take-over of public spaces, parks, and outdoor stages in the heart of Providence.
Turnaround Arts: Providence is part of a national public-private partnership that uses the arts to help schools across the nation. Through the Department of Arts, Culture + Tourism, Turnaround Arts was launched in DelSesto, Gilbert Stuart and Roger Williams middle schools. The program provides arts supplies, musical instruments, licensing rights and kits for school musicals and high-profile Turnaround Artists who work with students and teachers.
Providence is one of 15 localities from across the nation that was selected by the Kennedy Center and President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
The Downtown Transit Connector and Intermodal Center will change how RIPTA buses move through Kennedy Plaza. The Intermodal Center is being planned by RIDOT and will allow for passengers to move closer to the Providence train station in the Capital Center. The Downtown Transit Connector is funded by a $13-million U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant and a $4 million grant awarded to the City by RIPTA. Construction is set to begin during spring 2018.
Mayor Elorza announced that the City of Providence will launch JUMP Bikes, one of New England’s first electric bike share systems in summer 2018. The program will offer 400 JUMP e-bikes spanning 40 bike share stations citywide. The JUMP Bike share program is a membership-based system that can be used for commuting, exercise, and recreation. Providence residents and visitors can use bike share for one-way trips between neighborhoods, shops, restaurants, and jobs; bike shares also help people be more physically active. JUMP e-bikes have a pedal-assist motor, which allows for speeds up to 20 miles per hour. The pedal assist makes it easier for people to travel over hills and across longer distances in a shorter amount of time.
Every great city ensures that families have easy access to welcoming and dynamic public parks. Providence has invested $3.5 million in green spaces and has made major renovations to the majority of the 113 Providence Parks, including the iconic Roger Williams Park. With these investments, Providence parks will not only allow for residents to enjoy the outdoors but will also bring people closer together to share ideas and ultimately builds a stronger and healthier community.
A City That Works
Mayor Elorza established the Mayor’s Center for City Services (MCCS) in July 2015 to promote accessible and equitable constituent services. Providence residents, visitors and business owners deserve responsive, high-quality city services. Through the PVD311 system, MCCS constituent representatives assist with various types of service requests, direct questions and concerns.
To ensure Providence is a city that’s efficient, transparent and accessible for all, Mayor Elorza established the PVD311 system. The system offers a 3-1-1 hotline, a mobile app available for download on iOS through the Apple App Store and for Android on Google Play, and a webpage for 24/7 access to a range of city services.
Through the Mayor’s Center for City Services (MCCS), over 25,000 constituent cases have been completed and the PVD311 app has been downloaded over 4,100 times.
In response to feedback from the business community, Mayor Elorza has worked with Providence City Council, the Board of Licenses Office and business owners to improve policies, procedures, and services. Since 2015, the Department of Innovation has worked with the Board of Licenses Office and the Department of Inspection and Standards to reduce the number of applications from 40 to 3 and digitize the licensing and permitting process.
Additionally, in November of 2016, Mayor Elorza introduced a Licensing Kiosk to the business community to streamline licensing processes and improve customer experience. Overall, business owners can now spend more time on their businesses and not be waiting in line at City Hall.
Mayor Elorza created the Office of Innovation in February of 2015 to work with internal and external stakeholders to streamline the delivery of city services, promote public entrepreneurship and enhance citizen engagement. The mission of the Innovation Department is to streamline the delivery of City services to ensure we are a “City that Works” for its residents and customers.
Mayor Elorza, along with the Department of Innovation has worked to improve services for those doing business in City Hall. To streamline the permitting process, the Office of Innovation has implemented an online permitting system for the Department of Inspections and Standards (DIS); which allows the public to apply for building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and zoning permits online, and allows customers the ability to use credit cards and electronic checks for payment. Residents can also create an online profile to start and save their progress to finish at a later time, eliminating the need to return to City Hall.
In an effort to fight climate change, Mayor Elorza created SustainPVD, a city-wide sustainability initiative to make Providence a greener, healthier, and more livable city by reducing greenhouse gas. Through SustainPVD, the City of Providence has increased recycling, expanded composting programs, and made municipal buildings more energy efficient. Residents can also help Providence reduce its environmental impact by saving money and energy at home through the National Grid’s EnergyWise program, participating in the Find Your Four program or exploring solar energy alternatives. Information on these opportunities can be found at the Office of Sustainability or online at providenceri.gov/sustainability. With these efforts, Providence has set a goal to become a carbon-neutral city by the year 2050.
CodeRED is an emergency notification service that allows emergency officials to notify residents and businesses with time-sensitive emergency information by telephone, cell phone, text message, email and social media. The types of emergency messages that users may be alerted with include Amber Alerts, notifications of hazardous incidents, boil water advisories, evacuation notices, parking bans and severe weather alerts.
To create a more inclusive and welcoming city, Mayor Elorza announced the “One Providence” initiative in November 2016. The initiative was launched to give reassurance to Providence’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents that the City would continue to support them, despite the results of the presidential election. A series of announcements, events and initiatives were highlighted leading up to and following the 2017 presidential inauguration.
The announcements included a community forum in response to the election results, the creation of the Muslim-American Advisory Board, the launch of a Hate Crime Hotline, Neighborhood School Painting Projects, a National Immigration Day of Action, and more. The initiatives aligned with Mayor Elorza’s vision of “One Providence” and focused on advancing a society that reflects the values of inclusion, equity and respect for the dignity of every individual.
The 1-877-3HCRIME (1-877-342-7163) phone line allows individuals to report hate crimes citywide and gain access to valuable resources and support networks. The hotline is part of Mayor Elorza’s One Providence initiative. Residents who have experienced bias, violence or discrimination are encouraged to call 1-877-3HCRIME, which is available 24-hours a day and seven-days a week. The hotline is a direct connection to emergency management support. In the event of an emergency, please call 9-1-1.