The Rhode Island Foundation is committing $1 million to public education, putting its money behind a new report that calls on Rhode Island to “stay the course” in holding students to high standards.
The foundation released a report, the product of an 18-month study by a team of educators, nonprofit organization leaders and business executives, that sets broad goals for improving public education in Rhode Island.
At the beginning of 2020, Tom Giordano was excited to share the story about the Partnership for Rhode Island with Bill Bartholomew on his Bartholomew Town Podcast.
Discussing our work on education, workforce development and a positive outlook for Rhode Island
An analysis released at 12:00 AM Friday morning by the Rhode Island Department of Education conducted by the national consulting group Ernst and Young (EY) analyzed the Providence School system’s budget and identified that there may be more flexibility in how dollars are deployed than previously identified.
The analysis also finds at least one area where the City of Providence paid as much as 300 percent higher than its peer cities for a basic service.
The study was the second major analysis of the Providence Schools. It was released six months after the Johns Hopkins report that identified a school system in chaos and according to researchers among the worst-performing school systems in America.
This EY study cost $295,000 and it was paid for by the Partnership for Rhode Island -- a group of Rhode Island business and non-profit leaders.
The study finds that the cost to improve the physical condition of the schools is daunting for the state of Rhode Island. Read the full report HERE.
Providence schools' budget this fiscal year is $453 million.
Providence Public School District
By Tom Giordano | Partnership for Rhode Island executive director
The partnership addresses big-picture issues that affect all Rhode Islanders. The lessons we’ve learned can be applied to any group looking to effect change.
For example, our common belief, and one we are most invested in, is that high-quality education for every Rhode Island student is a moral and economic imperative.
To help achieve this vision, we commissioned the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy report and the Ernst & Young LLP financial analysis to provide honest, objective assessments of the issues facing the students of our capital city. While many challenges have been identified, these problems are solvable. Immediately after the reports, business leaders raised their hands to ask: “What’s the next step? How can we help?”
This kind of proactive involvement is at the root of our organization’s mission.
Complex problems aren’t going to be solved with one “big idea” or one person working alone. It takes teamwork and time.
Time, energy and funding must be invested in meaningful ways. Leveraging expert support and getting stakeholder buy-in from across industry sectors are imperative steps to project success.
We encourage the business community to continue to find ways to work together. No matter the size or the scope of the challenge, encourage your employees to keep raising their hands, to keep coming into the room with new ideas, and keep proactively asking what they can do to help.
Tom Giordano, Executive Director
Every single teacher in Rhode Island who applied to fund projects through a national non-profit called DonorsChoose.org will get their requests covered, thanks to two large donors, including the Partnership for Rhode Island and a member of the DonorsChoose board.
In a surprise announcement at the Carl Lauro Elementary School Monday, state education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green announced that every school in Providence would get their projects funded, and then went on to say that every school statewide would have their applications financed.
A total of 261 projects costing $131,648 have already been paid for, and there is about $19,000 left for teachers who have something they want, whether it’s books, furniture or a favorite project.
DonorsChoose.org is a national Web-based giving program that matches individual donors with teachers. Charles Best, the organization’s founder, brought the program to Rhode Island in 2008.
Schools don’t get the money. Donors.Choose buys the material and ships it to the teachers. In return, students write thank-you notes, take a snapshot of their project and mail them to Donors.Choose, which sends them to the individual donors. Picture a GoFundMe site for teachers.
The other major funder is Theresia Gouw, who is on the board of Brown University and the DonorsChoose board.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Accounting firm Ernst & Young has been tapped to conduct a financial analysis of the Providence public school system, Rhode Island’s education commissioner announced Monday.
Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, who is slated to issue a final order to take control of the struggling school district in the coming weeks, has previously said she wants a full financial picture of the district.
Once the state takeover begins, state law allows her to have full control over the district’s budget.
The analysis, costing $295,000, will be paid for privately by the Partnership for Rhode Island, the same coalition of local CEOs who also paid for the Johns Hopkins University report that helped spark the state takeover.
The partnership’s executive director, Tom Giordano, said the analysis is not an audit.
“Planning for the future of the Providence Public Schools starts with understanding its current financial status,” Giordano said in a statement. “We hope this analysis will help provide a roadmap for an efficient use of resources that prioritizes student achievement, principal empowerment, teacher development, and district improvement.”
Voicing our commitment to support the students, teachers, school leaders of the Providence Public Schools
With unemployment low, employers are struggling to recruit enough skilled talent to fill great jobs in high-demand fields. And increasingly, they are creating their own solutions – engaging with policymakers and educators to build not only the workforce, but the education system of the future.
...Tom Giordano, who directs the CEO roundtable Partnership for Rhode Island, says the effort to connect educators and employers with Rhode Islanders who need jobs, is working to not only help the state’s economy and the state’s residents, but to attract new businesses and create more opportunity. The message to students is: “Work hard, get an internship, ask for help and find it. Find a pathway that fits your skillset. Because we are ready for you.”
Rhode Island Gathering Showcases Collaboration Between Government, Employers, Educators
"We have tackled (the lack of communication with higher ed institutions) in a very meaningful way" Tom Giordano, Executive Director, Partnership for Rhode Island
More than three-quarters of Rhode Island voters approved Ballot Question No. 1 in November. The referendum will see $250 million invested in public school facility improvements across the state over five years. Why did the Partnership for Rhode Island – which includes representation from major corporations, colleges and universities, and nonprofits – endorse the referendum?
We supported the bond measure because the bond measure is good for Rhode Island. A recent study found that Rhode Island’s 306 school buildings are operating with more than 50,000 deficiencies. Ranging from leaky pipes to broken windows to severe structural issues, these deficiencies are putting kids at risk and directly impacting students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach. By approving Question 1 in November, Rhode Island voters gave every school district in Rhode Island a chance to address these problems.
Beyond throwing the organization’s weight to one side of the scale, did the Partnership for Rhode Island advocate for the measure in any other ways?
In the last month of the campaign season, the Partnership for Rhode Island invested in a non-partisan digital advertising campaign in an effort to raise awareness about the ballot referendum and educate Rhode Islanders about the many benefits that would come with this once-in-a-generation investment.
Why did the Partnership for Rhode Island choose to take a stand in the election?
We supported Question 1 because it fit our mission. We believe Rhode Island’s students and educators deserve to spend their schooldays teaching and learning in warm, safe, dry and up-to-date facilities. It’s also important to remember that the benefits of investing in our public school buildings will extend far beyond our students and teachers. It’s going to improve the state’s standing in the regional business community, as we’re sending a message to employers and business leaders that Rhode Island is investing in its future. It’s going to improve the day-to-day lives of our employee’s families, as studies show that newer, more up-to-date school buildings result in higher achievement and significantly fewer students sick days. This investment is a win for everybody in Rhode Island.
How does the public-school bond referendum relate to the partnership’s four core focus areas?
The Partnership for Rhode Island is committed to support causes and initiatives that make Rhode Island a better place to live and work. Our four core focus areas are high-quality K-12 education; infrastructure; lifelong workforce development training to help the state reach full employment; and attracting new businesses. The school bond is obviously in line with the education and infrastructure fronts – but we believe it will also move the needle with the state’s business community. Our state’s children need 21st-century learning environments in order to reach their full potential and prepare to enter the 21st-century workforce. Plus, having the ability to showcase new-and-improved, freshly renovated public school buildings will improve Rhode Island’s standing with businesses looking for new places to set up shop.
How will the Partnership for Rhode Island continue to support the implementation of the referendum into 2019?
The first step was approving the ballot referendum in November, which—as you mentioned earlier—Rhode Islanders did with nearly 80 percent of the vote. The next step is to get to work; break ground on projects; and give our students and teachers the warm, safe and dry schools they need and deserve.
Tom Giordano, Executive Director
PROVIDENCE – As aides to Governor Gina Raimondo spent the spring mulling what to do about Care New England’s planned merger with Partners Healthcare in Massachusetts and whether or not to intervene in the struggling Providence school system, they approached the same group for help.
The Partnership for Rhode Island, a little-known but influential organization comprised of 12 of the state’s most powerful executives – whose companies shell out $100,000 a year to be members – agreed to pay for a consultant to assist Care New England, along with Lifespan and Brown University, as they worked to try and establish an academic health center.
Around the same time, the partnership paid researchers from Johns Hopkins University to conduct an independent assessment of the capital’s schools. The study laid the groundwork for Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green to order a state takeover of the school department.
The group’s willingness to wade into two of the state’s most pressing issues is exactly what its elite membership had in mind when the partnership was formed in late 2016. Now business leaders and elected officials are keeping close tabs on the organization as it considers taking on a more public role in the effort to turn around Providence schools.