Newport County – Bank of America has announced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center as a 2017 Neighborhood Builder. The nonprofit is being recognized for its longtime contributions to the Newport County community, improving economic and social progress throughout the state. Through Neighborhood Builders (#NeighborhoodBuilders), the bank provides nonprofits with a unique combination of leadership development (for the executive director and a developing leader in the organization), $200,000 in flexible funding, a network of peer organizations across the U.S. and the opportunity to access capital in order to expand their impact in the Rhode Island community.

“The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center has been an integral part of the Rhode Island community for almost a century,” said Bill Hatfield, Rhode Island Market president, Bank of America. “By addressing critical community needs through the various programs offered, from hunger relief to educational support, the center has worked to improve the economic well-being for numerous residents throughout Newport County.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center is a privately funded, non-profit community center incorporated in 1922 and renamed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. A multi-service agency, The MLK Center provides hunger relief, nutrition awareness and counseling, education and community support to hundreds of individuals and families throughout Newport County. The center currently offers the area’s highest-volume food pantry and only daily meal site. The funding of the Neighborhood Builders award will help the center acquire the infrastructure and technology needed to support continued growth and to increase organizational efficiency in the nonprofit and for-profit Newport County ecosystem.

“The MLK Community Center of today is a nimble, responsive, fiscally-sound organization serving all of Newport County,” says Marilyn Warren, Executive Director.  “The Neighborhood Builders award could not come at a more opportune time.  We have just embarked on a new 3-year strategic plan and are collaborators in several city-wide initiatives that will change the future for many of our struggling neighbors. We are humbled and grateful to Bank of America for leading us on this journey to bring to fruition new programs and services in our second century of service to the Newport County community.”

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.