Providence awarded Grant as part of national health and economic program

City of Providence Awarded Grant as Part of National Program to Increase Health, Economic Opportunity 

With a grant from The Kresge Foundation, the City of Providence will continue work on a project to combine healthy food & Creative Placemaking as part of the FreshLo initiative

Providence, RI – Mayor Elorza announced that the City of Providence has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation for Sowing Place. The project is made possible through a partnership between City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, City of Providence Healthy Communities Office, the African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI), Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation and the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island.

Providence is one of 23 organizations from across the U.S. receiving a grant as part of The Kresge Foundation’s initiative, Fresh, Local & Equitable (FreshLo), which supports neighborhood-scale projects leveraging healthy food and Creative Placemaking for equitable economic development. 

“We are the Creative Capital and that means that we support the artistic and innovative communities here in our city," said Mayor Jorge Elorza. "We appreciate the investment that Kresge's FreshLo initiative has made, and continues to make, in our neighborhoods. This work and the work of our partners have allowed us to deepen our community connections and support innovative projects in the arts, food and health sectors while promoting equity citywide.“

After being selected to participate in FreshLo in 2016, the City and partners completed a one-year planning phase for Sowing Place with a $75,000 grant from Kresge. During the past year, the group strengthened their community partnerships, hired artist facilitators (Vatic Kuumba and Laura Brown-Lavoie) to guide the project and lead community engagement, collaborated on pilot arts integrated and site specific market events and designed an implementation plan. 

“We’re inspired by the work of Providence and how they engaged neighborhood residents to create a shared vision for Sowing Place,” said Stacey Barbas, senior program officer with Kresge’s Health Program. “Over the last year, this organization has worked tirelessly to develop a project that reflects the culture and values of their neighborhoods.” 

FreshLo embodies The Kresge Foundation’s philosophy that catalytic change to improve opportunity for low-income persons in America’s cities requires multidimensional approaches – not simply one program or sector working alone. By incorporating Creative Placemaking - the deliberate integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into comprehensive community development - residents and community partners can creatively address complex issues such as food insecurity, vacancy and health outcomes. 

“Over the past year, we have worked with the City and its partners to move through the creative process of designing a group project that each partner felt committed to,” said the artist facilitation team of Vatic Kuumba and Laura Brown-Lavoie in a project statement. “We are here to ensure that this project is an art project from its very inception, with the playful and visionary spirit that such an attitude provides.”

Over the next two years, the City of Providence, along with partners, plans to increase capacity for local food growers and artistic vendors by maximizing collaborative assets and integrating arts into food-oriented activities. During the implementation phase, Sowing Place will:
•    Develop and support cooperative and micro business trainings specifically oriented for neighborhood food and arts vendors
•    Increase the Sankofa Market footprint through collaboration and market extension at the Southside Cultural Center’s Southlight Pavilion
•    Support the launch of new AARI pop-up markets at neighborhood healthcare facilities
•    Connect community partners to ongoing and emerging City initiatives to strengthen public/private relationships and collaborative visioning

(release from City of Providence) 

The CW