Boys & Girls Club, Newport Choir School are 2 of only 14 nonprofits statewide to receive grants to mark Black History Month

To mark Black History Month, the Rhode Island Foundation announced on Wednesday that they have awarded grants to two local nonprofit organizations to fund programs for local African-American children.

“Providing the Black community with the resources to thrive goes to the core of commitment to equity and our vision for ensuring that the future is bright for a changing Rhode Island,” said Adrian Bonéy, the Foundation’s program officer for special programs, in a prepared statement.

The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County was awarded $5,000 to provide African-American children with scholarships to attend its Kids Clubhouse after-school program.

“This funding is critical as it allows us to serve minority families with financial need and provide a place where they can find an abundance of resources and support to help them achieve academic, social and emotional success,” said Joseph Pratt, executive director and CEO in the statement. “We offer enrichment activities, including music, athletics, dance, homework assistance and a computer lab, that put young people on the path to great futures.”

Children living in communities of concentrated poverty are more likely to attend schools where the dropout rate is high and test scores are low, and to live in neighborhoods with higher crime rates.

“Our quality afterschool programs provide youth with a number of supports, including a safe environment, academically enriching activities, consistent adult role models, leadership development and character building experiences, healthy snacks and meals and opportunities for physical activity,” said Pratt in the statement.

The Choir School of Newport County received $7,500 to recruit African-American children and their support network of parents, guardians, teachers and social service providers.

“For some low-income children, participating in the Choir School may be one of the few anchors of stability in their lives,” said Peter Berton, founding executive director, in a prepared statement. “This new initiative will empower the adults in their lives to support these children’s choral education as we form lives of character and service.”

The grant will also enable the school to begin organizing the archival materials of The Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist in order to document its history as an institution founded by African-American layman Peter Quire, who prior to moving to Newport worked with Quakers on the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia.  The Choir School was founded in 2014 at St. John’s, Newport, and has been an independent nonprofit since 2017.

“Maintaining the historic connection between St. John’s and the Choir School, particularly with regard to our roots in the African-American community, is extremely important to the distinct identity of each institution,” said Fr. Nathan Humphrey, rector of St. John’s and founding chairman of the board of the Choir School, in the statement.

The grants are among 14 the Foundation made statewide through its Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.

The fund supports nonprofits that offer youth development and mentoring, promote the history and achievements of Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the Black community and strive to uplift low-income Black Rhode Islanders.

The fund is guided by an advisory committee comprised of Linda Newton, Edward Clifton, Jason Fowler, Brendan Kane and Beverly Ledbetter.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit

Ryan Belmore

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  He 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.

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

In 2020, he was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.

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

Born and raised in Rhode Island, he spent 39 years living in Rhode Island before recently moving to Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two rescue dogs. He still considers Rhode Island home, and visits at least once a month.