NEWPORT, RI – A Newport nonprofit has received a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation as part of a program to build the capacity of organizations led by people of color. Sankofa Community Connection will receive $ 60,000 over two years.
The organization will use the funding to support annual cultural programs and events such as Renewal Day, Juneteenth and Kwanzaa celebrations, as well as to meet community needs related to the coronavirus pandemic.
J. Niko Merritt, founding executive director of Sankofa, called the grant a “game changer” for the organization.
“We use our knowledge, our lived experiences and our ability to connect with the community on a deeper level to build a powerful coalition,” Merritt said. “This will allow us to continue our work that responds to the need of residents, community members and participants to see like-minded people lead and deliver services.” are like the people we support, we share lived experiences, and we can show personal empathy in difficult situations. “
Each year, Sankofa hosts around seven community events, as well as summer camps for middle and high school students. Throughout the pandemic, the organization has also evolved to meet these needs.
“Our distinctive ability is exemplified by the way the community trusts us and views us as family,” continued Merritt. “With Sankofa, many community members, especially those of color, express that they feel especially safe, empowered and supported. We will continue to pursue our mission of educating, celebrating and empowering.”
In total, the Foundation has awarded grants worth $ 660,000 to 11 organizations in Rhode Island. The other winners were Movement Ground Farm and Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust, both in Tiverton, Mixed Magic Theater and Cultural Events in Pawtucket, Movement Education Outdoors in Woonsocket and A Leadership Journey, Reentry Campus Program, Sunrise Forever, Women’s Refugee Care, Mount Hope Community Center, and Youth in Action, all in Providence.
“Structural racism is a barrier to growth for many organizations,” said Angie Ankoma, executive director of the Equity Leadership Initiative at the Rhode Island Foundation. “Our grants give them the resources to break the ‘cycle of famine’ that limits their ability to maintain or expand their programs.”