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The Rhode Island Foundation is sending a Newport student off to college with a scholarship honoring Roger Williams, the state’s founding father. Ezra Monteiro won the four-year, renewable scholarship through the Foundation’s Carter Roger Williams Initiative, which was launched two years ago by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter.
“Roger Williams had the chance to further his education because of the people around him. Because of the vision of the Carter family, we have the opportunity to encourage students and their parents to think big about their future,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s executive vice president of strategy and community investments, who leads the project.
Monteiro is one of six students selected statewide based on their academic achievement, financial need, appreciation for Roger Williams’ values and record of community service. They are eligible to receive a total of $320,000 over four years. More than 160 students across Rhode Island competed for the scholarship assistance.
Monteiro is a 2019 graduate of Rogers High School. He was a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. He competed on the track and field, football, basketball and robotics teams.
In his application, Monteiro wrote about what he learned from Roger Williams’ values.
“In today’s day and age, many people have forgotten about Roger Williams’ principles and how they should apply to our everyday lives. When Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, he gave the colonists a chance to live a better life, regardless of their religion,” he wrote.
Monteiro will attend Howard University. He plans to major in economics and pursue a career in the financial industry.
“Although it may be hard, all of us need to stand up for what we believe in and stand against what we don’t. In order to build strong communities, we must work and pool unique ideas together,” he said.
“Differences between people should not be seen as challenges, but rather as advantages. Unique minds and ideas pave the way for new discoveries and the advancement of the human race,” added Monteiro.
The other five recipients are Jacqueline Contreras of Providence, Marissa Henley of Woonsocket, Angella Nakasagga of Cranston, Abel Ndungutsye of Providence and Alfusatny Saine of Woonsocket.
In addition to the scholarships, the Carter Roger Williams Initiative hosts a website – findingrogerwilliams.com — that offers educational resources for students and educators and awards grants to schools to underwrite field trips to the State House.
“By providing access to resources and opportunities inspired by our state’s founder and his teachings, we are promoting a sense of place and awareness for all Rhode Islanders,” said the Foundation’s David.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. 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 rifoundation.org.