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How Papitto Opportunity Connection’s All-BIPOC Board is Higher Serving Communities of Coloration


Ting Current

Photograph by Ian Travis Barnard

“Superheroes without capes” is how individuals have described the staff behind Papitto Opportunity Connection. The nonprofit non-public basis, based mostly in Providence, works inside Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous and other people of colour communities to supply training and job expertise coaching and assist entrepreneurship.

The basis is the imaginative and prescient of Ralph and Barbara Papitto, whose long-term aim was to put money into underserved communities. After philanthropist Ralph R. Papitto died in 2019, his spouse, Barbara, turned a trustee together with John Tarantino and Ed Pieroni. The POC Foundation has a wholly BIPOC board, whose members work to find out grant and microloan recipients and distribute funding to BIPOC companies and packages. The basis additionally began the Transform Rhode Island scholarship to assist college students from underserved communities attend school. We sat down with the first advisory board members, Ting Barnard and Arnell Milhouse: 

What is the Papitto Opportunity Connection?

Arnell: Ralph Papitto grew up in humble beginnings as a son of immigrants. He got here right here believing within the American dream. He and Barbara Papitto wished to put money into underserved communities and so they created Read to Succeed in 2008, however they wished to do one thing greater to make extra of a long-term affect. The Papitto Opportunity Connection entails alternatives and connection.

TING: They created pathways to success in training, entrepreneurship and workforce growth. And we’re additionally the American dream story, the 2 of us.

What is your American dream story?

Arnell: I used to be born to a single mother in Roxbury, Massachusetts. We had been born poor. I used to be capable of be taught what it meant to beat and succeed towards all odds. We moved to Cape Cod once I was in eighth grade, and Cape Cod gave me a very completely different world view. I used to be capable of take my work ethic, my expertise I had from rising up in Roxbury and mix these with this understanding of alternative in training. At the identical time, after we went again to go to our household in Roxbury, it was regarding to see the disparity of wealth that was fifty miles aside. That set in movement for me a lifetime of philanthropy, a life devoted to giving to differents. 

TING: I got here to America [from Laos] on the age of 1. We lived on Orms Street in Providence, and we had been undocumented. There are 4 of us siblings — two ladies, two boys — every two years aside. My dad and mom raised 4 youngsters whereas talking little or no English. They labored onerous and managed to place all 4 of us via school.

How had been you chosen to be on the advisory board? 

TING: I serve on the board for Leadership Rhode Island, and I’m actively concerned within the mentorship program for College Leadership Rhode Island. John [Tarantino] known as me and mentioned I believe that is an extension of the work you’ve been doing locally via the Friendship Foundation. Arnell and I had by no means met, however we had been working individually inside our communities. Now we’re working collectively by creating focus teams, having one-on-one conversations, and asking communities, “What are your needs?” 

Arnell: John was breaking down the targets, and my analysis into the lifetime of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got here to thoughts. I mentioned that is precisely what Dr. King was engaged on within the two years previous to his assassination.

How a lot funding has been made obtainable?

Arnell: It began with $50 million, then it went to $100 million, now it’s $150 million. After Ralph handed, trustees Barbara Papitto, John Tarantino and Ed Pieroni put their heads collectively about how they’ll finest use inherited wealth to affect communities of colour. They mentioned we have to have an all-BIPOC board of advisors as a result of Barbara mentioned, “I never want to assume what communities of color need.” 

Are there organizations you’re most happy with serving to?

TING: The Center for Southeast Asians in Rhode Island. We really feel proud to know that we’ve assist from a corporation that basically cares about who we’re. 

Arnell: I’m overjoyed to see how the African American neighborhood is coming collectively and forming unity. It’s rewarding seeing recipients burst into tears as a result of they’ve been at this work for ten or fifteen or thirty years and telling us they by no means had assist like this and what it means to them.

TING: And hopefully they’re taking what they’ve realized, and in flip, being mentors and leaders for others. pocfoundation.com




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