Standing United

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

A message from Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO, United Way of Rhode Island.

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others have been at the hand of racist acts. These beautiful lives lost shed a light on a legacy of racism that affects the health, well-being, and hope of our colleagues, neighbors, and friends.

United Way of Rhode Island fights for greater opportunity for all and has for nearly 95 years. Much of our investments in the community are focused heavily on equity work, but if our society cannot ensure equal access to justice for all, then it is time for us to increase our engagement and elevate our role.

“For far too long, racism has left its mark on the souls of Black folks,” says Angela Ankoma, executive vice president of community investment at United Way of Rhode Island. “It’s systemic, institutional, and insidious. The riots across this nation are symptoms of deeply rooted issues, we haven’t addressed for over 400 years. It’s time. I ask that each and every one of us make the promise to create a more a just and equitable Rhode Island where all can prosper. ”

We stand in solidarity with Black mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers who fear for the safety – for the very lives – of their Black children and grandchildren. 

No words can convince them that their children are safe. We are sad and we are angry that in 2020 this is the reality for Black families in America, including Black families in Rhode Island. They deserve better.

We call on all in our community to join us in the work to solve the crisis of racism. We know that Rhode Island can do better — Rhode Islanders have a deep-rooted passion to help others in times of need. There is no better time than the present.

United Way of Rhode Island is committed to combatting and dismantling racism and discrimination in all of its forms and we denounce race-related violence. With your support, we can and will continue to:

  • Invest significantly with organizations that place equity at the forefront of their work.
  • Advocate changing policies that disproportionately affect Rhode Island’s community of color.
  • Convene and organize efforts to ensure safe, affordable housing, and high-quality education is attainable and accessible to all.
  • Educate community members about racism and facilitating change.

While many in our community want to help, some don’t know where to start. Truly listening is a great first step. Please join us this Friday, at 12 pm, for Community First Conversations, our new Facebook Live series. This week, we speak with a panel of Black Rhode Island mothers about racism in the community and their hopes for the future.

United, we stand in solidarity with our Black community. Let’s see this as the moment we make a better tomorrow for our amazing community.


United Way Worldwide’s Brian Gallagher responds to recent acts of violence.