Five Rhode Island students chosen as Transform Rhode Island Scholarship finalists

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Five finalists of the Transform Rhode Island Scholarship were surprised with the news by the Papitto Opportunity Connection Foundation in front of their schools Wednesday.

The five students were chosen from 97 essay and video submission from students of color across Rhode Island, answering the question, “What would you do if you were given $1 million to make RI’s communities of color better and stronger?”

On May 26, the winner, along with second and third place, will be chosen by three national judges, including Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green.

One student from Wheeler School, one from Woonsocket High School, and three from the MET School were surprised in assemblies in front of their classmates.

“I really didn’t think I was going to be here,” said MET School finalist Jalias Ramos. “I knew it was a pretty interesting idea and that even if I didn’t win and wasn’t a finalist, I’d try to make it happen.”

The POC Foundation offered the Transform RI Scholarship for the first time this year.

“We want them to be with us step-by-step, so that we are presenting their dream, not our dream,” said POC founder Barbara Papitto. “Someone is listening to them, and that is so powerful with ideas to feel that they can be heard.”

The POC Foundation aims to empower, aid, and create individual success stories in Rhode Island’s communities of color.

“So many times, you’ll hear older adults say, ‘well they just don’t care,’ and that’s not true… we witnessed it today,” Papitto explained.

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