Inaugural Community Racial Equity Scholarship Recipient Named
Historically, American institutions, including religious institutions, have contributed to the unequal treatment of many of its marginalized citizens, particularly those identified as Black, Indigenous & People of Color (BIPOC). Unjust policies involving housing, politics, hiring and education opportunities are depressing examples that continue to hinder this large segment of our society. Because of this, and in response to the protests following George Floyd’s murder last summer, Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ felt it imperative to take a visible stand and placed two large “Black Lives Matter” banners at the front of its Rumford, RI property. The church’s leadership also saw that a more proactive approach was necessary as evidenced in Newman UCC's ongoing, popular book study group on race as well as the Racial Equity Team from which the idea of a community scholarship was born.
As a statement of Christian ethics, Newman’s Racial Equity Team believes that growing awareness of racial inequities in our society and tangible efforts to ameliorate the current situation are important building blocks toward justice for all.
Requirements for the annual education scholarship include financial need, identity as BIPOC, and enrollment in a post high school program such as one at an undergraduate, graduate, or trade school. Outreach to the broader community was and remains an important programming goal.
The Racial Equity Team is pleased to announce its first recipient of the Community Racial Equity Scholarship (CRES); Desiree I. Weeden. Desiree was selected in late June from an inspiring slate of candidates and awarded $4000 toward her graduate studies at Providence College beginning in August 2021. Upon learning of her scholarship, Desiree expressed her gratitude:
The 2021 Community Racial Equity Scholarship that I received on behalf of the Racial Equity Team at Newman UCC means that I have been granted the opportunity to start closing the educational gap that prevents me, and others like myself, an equal education that relies on financial stability. People in my community aren’t afforded the same generational wealth and equity to attain a postsecondary education, and that within itself prevents student achievement and success. This scholarship has created an opportunity for me to break down barriers that I have experienced so I can excel in college, and pursue a career that requires me to assist students in achieving their goals as well. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the Racial Equity Team at Newman UCC, and Rev. Timoth for their generosity, support, and blessings for assisting in my academic journey!
With the creation of this scholarship Newman UCC and its affiliates hope to help level the education playing field while instilling hope for a better future in BIPOC people pursuing their dreams. Specific goals for the CRES scholarship include increasing the monetary amount and the number of available scholarships while broadening participation with community partners. Though funding for the inaugural award originated within the Newman UCC faith community, many other donations were and will continue to be vital to the program.
It is the hope of the Newman UCC Racial Equity Team that community partnerships will begin to form in support of future CRES awards. By joining together a vast array of businesses, faith communities, individuals and community organizations, the Community Racial Equity Scholarship can grow to provide the much-needed resources for our BIPOC neighbors.
Tax-deductible contributions to the CRES may be sent to:
Racial Equity Fund
PO Box 4764
Rumford, RI 02916
Or electronically at www.newmanucc.org/give
Newman UCC is an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ and extends this invitation to one and all, living out the example of Jesus’ extravagant welcome.
Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ is located at 100 Newman Avenue, Rumford, RI 02916
For more information, contact Rev. Timoth Sylvia at 401-434-4742.