Sankofa Community Connection will officially open a location in Newport with a  ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, November 30 at 3 pm.

The ceremony will take place at its new location at 2 Broadway in Newport, RI. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, organizers say the ribbon cutting will be held outdoors, socially distanced and attended by Executive leadership of  Sankofa, Mayor Jamie Bova, Newport Chamber of Commerce, media to capture the event and a few local dignitaries. 

Sankofa Community Connection’s mission is to “increase pride of place within the African American Community of Newport County , through a community-led initiative with  3 main focus areas: 1. Community events and gatherings to increase our social cohesion 2. Community Meetings where we discuss  the impact of institutional racism and racial oppression to promote dialogue and create solutions to the issues  3. Historical Education to reveal, honor and celebrate the cultural heritage of African Americans of early Newport”.

Niko Merritt, Founding Executive Director said “It has taken four years and I am so proud to have a physical location  where we can host our community gatherings and conduct our trainings. We will meet virtually until it is safe to resume  in person meetings. For local organizations and businesses, we will offer anti-racism and implicit bias training on a  regular basis. We will also continue to host community events. Sankofa is a place of pride and a space that welcomes and centers the Black Community. We have a unique relationship as both the board members and leadership of Sankofa  live in, work in or are from the community that we serve. We are different than the traditional, larger non-profits as we  look like the people we support, we have common lived experiences and are empathetic in situations that we have not  experienced personally. The community has come to trust us, they feel safe and supported and we see them more like  family than community. We will continue our support, the only thing that is different is the dedicated space to do so in.” 

Board President, Ellen Pinnock said “It is with great pride that I have been asked to be a part of Sankofa Community  Connection, the only Black woman run organization on Broadway. Sankofa is a much-needed space, we finally have a  safe place, right in the heart of downtown Newport- where we can be our authentic selves and do the work that needs  to be done to uplift our community and educate others. 

Find out more about Sankofa Community Connection at

Ryan Belmore is the 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.