Around the Valley: Scam targets grandparents, $80K scholarship deadline

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The following are briefs and news from around the Blackstone Valley.

BankNewport contributes $1.2 million to nonprofits

BankNewport has announced that its 2021 philanthropic efforts resulted in over $1.2 million awarded to more than 350 nonprofits in Rhode Island. The donations include all grants, sponsorships, community contributions from local branches, and year-end proactive and holiday support totaling $74,000 to nonprofits that meet basic needs for the underserved throughout Rhode Island.

Organizations in every county of Rhode Island benefitted from the giving effort, with areas of impact focused on basic human needs, children and families, education, economic security, healthy living, arts and culture and the environment.  Over the past 11 years, BankNewport has awarded $7 million in grants, sponsorships, and donations to a wide range of nonprofits to help strengthen and enrich lives and communities throughout the state.

Financial education and community involvement by Bank employees in 2021 totaled more than 7,300 hours. Through BNWise, BankNewport’s financial education program, more than 2,500 students and community members were engaged in interactive financial education presentations on a variety of topics, from saving and budgeting to credit and entrepreneurship, which were made available in-person and virtually.

BankNewport also presented two high profile campaigns generating statewide awareness of food insecurity and for those organizations serving Rhode Island’s homeless population:  Kind Souls Full Bowls benefitted the Rhode Island Community Food Bank with a $50,000 Bank gift and over $7,500 raised from the community, and Kind Heart Fresh Start collected over 4,700 personal care items impacting more than 1,000 individuals in need.

Scam targets grandparents

We have all heard about various scams involving taking advantage of the elderly. There is currently a new rip-off for which Americans should be on high alert.

Recently, a Manhattan, Kansas woman was contacted by someone who she thought was a legitimate bail bondsmen. The predators called the unsuspecting woman and informed her that her grandson was at a wedding in Florida, got into some trouble and was arrested. They claimed that he needed bail money in order to be released from jail. Desperate to help him, she provided her credit card information and is now out $5,000. As it turned out, of course, her grandson was fine, had not been arrested and didn’t need bail money.

David Stuckman, executive vice president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of this latest scam.

Firstly, while he understands how it feels like an urgent matter when you receive a call of this nature – – take a moment to breathe. Secondly, if you receive such a call from a supposed bondsmen, ask them in what jail your loved one is being held. A bona fide bail agent will readily provide the name of the jail and you should call the jail directly to verify.

Also, mention that you have a local bondsmen with whom you would like to contact for help.

“Typically, the con-man will hang up at this point,” Stuckman notes.

Lastly, Stuckman advises to never provide your credit card information over-the-phone if you receive such calls.

Caucus celebrates Black History Month

The Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus held their annual Black History Month celebration Tuesday in the library of the State House

The caucus honored the National Pan-Hellenic Council, also known as the Divine 9, which are nine historically Black fraternities and sororities that came together in the 1930’s at Howard University to foster brotherhood and sisterhood in the pursuit of bringing about social change through the development of social programs that create positive change for African Americans and the country.

Rep. Karen Alzate of Pawtucket, the chairwoman of the caucus, presided over the event. 

“Black history is American history, it is our history.  Black History Month allows us to recognize the contributions African Americans have made to our great nation and it makes us have conversations about uncomfortable truths that we need to face so that our country continues to grow and prosper,” said Alzate. “The Divine 9 has consistently demonstrated to Black Americans the formula for success in life and their legacy will continue to make a lasting impression on countless generations to come.  The RI Legislative Black and Latino Caucus thanks them for all that they have done, and continue to do, and it was an honor to have these wonderful representatives of the Divine 9 joining us at the State House.”

House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney, a member of Omega Psi Phi; House Municipal Government and Housing Committee Chairman Raymond Hull; and Reps. Brianna Henries and Jose Batista all delivered remarks.

Representatives from the following organizations attended the event and received legislative citations honoring the Divine 9’s contributions to our country’s history and culture:

·         Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Founded 1906 at Cornell University

·         Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Founded 1908 at Howard University

·         Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Founded 1911 at Indiana University

·         Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Founded 1911 Howard University

·         Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Founded 1913 Howard University

·         Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Founded 1914 Howard University

·         Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Founded 1920 Howard University

·         Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Founded 1922 Butler University

·         Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Founded 1963 Morgan State University

The Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus represents and advocates for the interests of disadvantaged people throughout the State of Rhode Island. It seeks to increase a diverse participation and representation in all levels of government. The goal is to close, and ultimately to eliminate, disparities that still exist between white and non-white Americans in every aspect of life.

Rhode Island Foundation offers college scholarships to promote Roger Williams’ core values

High school seniors have until Feb. 28 to apply for college scholarships of up to $20,000 a year through Carter Roger Williams Initiative at the Rhode Island Foundation. Conceived of and funded by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter, the program honors the principles of the state’s founding father.

“Roger Williams was a complicated man, but the pillars he aspired to still resonate today. Thanks to the vision and continued commitment of the Carter family, young people throughout the state will continue to be able to discover and connect with his values,” said Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

Rhode Island high school seniors who display an appreciation for values like freedom of conscience and learning from others that Roger Williams practiced are eligible for up to $80,000 over four years based on financial need and academic good standing.

Applicants must be residents of Rhode Island, high school seniors and attend a public, parochial or independent high school in Rhode Island. Since the program started in 2017, 29 students have been awarded scholarships totaling $1.68 million.

Applicants will be evaluated based on financial need, comprehension and application of Roger Williams’ principles, and record of academic and community achievement. For more information about applying for a Carter Rogers Williams Scholarship, visit rifoundation.org.

While the Carter Roger Williams Scholarships are the largest scholarships the Foundation awards, they are among $4 million in scholarships that are available this year.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

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