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.”

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).