$8M initiative seeks to create better opportunities for Central Providence residents


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island has been awarded an $8 million grant for opportunities in Central Providence, Governor Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday.

In a Facebook press conference, the governor said the pandemic has further highlighted inequalities in the state. The initiative, set to start next month, gets money into areas like housing, jobs and even WiFi for the Providence area.

The governor was joined by Mayor Jorge Elorza and agencies also working on the project, including the Rhode Island Foundation, Blue Meridian and One Neighborhood Builders.

“It’s an unfortunate reality but in America, and in our state, too often your access to high quality education, your access to healthcare, your ability to get a good job, decent housing, does correlate with your zip code, your race, your gender, your immigration status,” Raimondo said.

The initiative is set up to distribute the money towards housing, childcare, education, workforce development and small business.

Elorza said the money is much needed, as Central Providence has been one of the hardest hit areas in the state with the pandemic.

“People are working harder and harder every day but its like a hamster wheel, they’re just not getting ahead,” the mayor said.

One of the initiatives also includes free WiFi, which will help students having to distance learn during the pandemic.

“About 5 million square feet of the Olneyville neighborhood, serving about 4,000 residents, will now have free high speed internet,” Executive Director of One Neighborhood Builders Jennifer Hawkins said. “Olneyville has among the lowest rates of in home internet in the whole state.”

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