Our zip code shouldn’t determine our success in life.

We believe our state will prosper when every community in it prospers. That’s why we focus on making sure that every local community has the basic resources it needs, including good homes that people can afford, access to learning opportunities for children and adults, and fair treatment of all community members.

With a focus on community first, our public policy and advocacy work seeks equity for Rhode Islanders in three fundamental areas:

  1. Building strong communities through housing
  2. Making education work for all
  3. Finding justice in justice reform

Building strong communities through housing

United Way is a leader in the Homes RI campaign—a coalition of organizations working to expand housing opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

Together, we believe that the state must make a significant commitment to a well-funded, ongoing line item for housing in our state’s budget. The line item is the best way to promote economic and workforce development, build strong families and communities, and end long-term homelessness.

In the 2019 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly, we seek increased state funding for:

  • Construction and preservation of affordable housing
  • Rental subsidies for low-income families and individuals
  • Supportive services for people placed in permanent housing

We also support:

  • Removal of legal, administrative, regulatory, and economic barriers to quality housing

Making education work for all

We believe that giving every Rhode Islander access to high-quality learning opportunities is among the best investments we can make in our state’s future. Giving Rhode Islanders the tools to participate is key to building our economy.

The realities across our state are concerning:

  • Only 40% of children statewide are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
  • 40,000 youth are eager—but unable—to afford and attend quality afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • More than 1,000 working-age adults are on waiting lists for learning opportunities that will help them do better for themselves and their families.

In the 2019 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly, we support:

  • A state-dedicated funding stream to help children and youth access quality afterschool and summer learning programs
  • Universal Pre-Kindergarten
  • Expansion of RI Promise for working-age adults
  • Expansion of the Real Jobs program, including increased funding to reduce the learning opportunity waiting list

In addition, we’ll recommend strategies to the new, state-operated Out-Of-School Time Commission in support of our afterschool network partners—agencies that focus on children, youth, and families who live at or below the Federal Poverty Level and speak a language other than English at home.

Finding justice in justice reform

The State of Rhode Island annually spends $270 million to support the incarceration, probation, parole, and home confinement of 50,000 Rhode Islanders.

Following incarceration, many have a permanent blemish on their record—one that prohibits them from engaging in productive careers. This makes it nearly impossible for them to support their families or participate in our collective success by contributing to the state’s economy.

In addition, families of incarcerated individuals need support to thrive and be successful in our state.

We support:

  • Eliminating the residual impact of incarceration by investing in targeted programming that supports affected individuals and their families
  • Enhancing policies that foster an individual’s return to the community after completing their sentence and help them continue their pursuit of equality and opportunity

If you have any questions or would like to know more about UWRI’s advocacy work, please contact Travis Escobar.