May 25, 2018

East Providence teen a winner in statewide college scholarship competition

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Providence, RI – The Rhode Island Foundation is sending an East Providence student off to college with a scholarship honoring Roger Williams, the state’s founding father. Taliq Tillman won the four-year, renewable scholarship through the Carter Roger Williams Initiative, which was launched last year by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter.

“Roger Williams had the opportunity to further his education because of those around him. Thanks to the vision of the Carter family, we are able to encourage students and their parents to think big about what’s possible for their future,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s executive vice president of strategy and community investments, who leads the initiative.

Students from throughout Rhode Island competed for the scholarship assistance. Tillman was selected based on academic achievement, financial need, appreciation for Roger Williams’ values and record of community service.

Tillman co-founded Diversity Talks, participated in the Highlander Institute Culturally Responsive Design Team and interned with the Trinity Repertory Company. A senior at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Training Center, he plans to attend Dartmouth College.

In his application, Tillman wrote about what he learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“Roger Williams was extremely conscious of promoting tolerance through all of his endeavors. He took the initiative to go against a traditional system and propose ideas that were considered dangerous for the time,” he said. “From my personal experiences, I have come to understand that that same initiative, passion and determination are exactly what’s needed in order to truly change a system.”

Tillman is proud of his work co-founding Diversity Talks, which aims to increase academic performance and achievement by providing school districts, colleges, community-based organizations and corporations with student-led professional development grounded in the cultural competencies of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“By working with Diversity Talks , I have been able to make an innovation within our education system that is long overdue. Our discussions have been emotionally charged and productive, yielding solutions that are sustainable rather than uncertainty and Band-Aid solutions to a broken system,” he explained.

“As a student facilitator and co-founder of the business, I strive to alleviate politically tension, and make an impact in our education system by helping teachers and students alike engage in discussion that unify them,” he said. “I’m committed to ensuring that school environments promote inclusivity, learning through inquiry, and an awareness of identity -- all of which are proven to be conducive to academic and personal growth,” he said.

Tillman is one of seven Rhode Island students to receive scholarships through the Carter Roger Williams Initiative at the Foundation. The winners are eligible for nearly $300,000 in college aid over four years.

In addition to the scholarships, the Carter Roger Williams Initiative offers a website – findingrogerwilliams.com -- that includes educational resources for students and educators and awards grants of up to $400 to underwrite school field trips to the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence.

“By providing access to resources and opportunities inspired by our state’s founder and his teachings, we are promoting a sense of place and awareness for all Rhode Islanders,” said the Foundation’s David.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking 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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