Letitia and John Carter are well-known in the region for the R.I. Innovation Fellowship program run through the Rhode Island Foundation. Now in the midst of judging for the third class of winners, the fellowship awards up to $300,000 spread over three years to each of two chosen applicants to test and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve any area of life in Rhode Island.
The four ideas being supported so far include: the creation of an entrepreneurial hub much like Betaspring to connect Rhode Island-based creative-industry sectors; support for new retail brands online and then help for them to transition to vacant storefronts in the state; the creation of a fleet of mobile design labs aimed at out-of-school experiences for children and subsequently the creation of a design curriculum for schools; and an effort to eradicate Hepatitis C in Rhode Island.
For the innovation fellowship alone, the Carters would be worth recognition. But they created another program through the Rhode Island Foundation, giving “Spark” grants to individual projects proposed by third-grade teachers in any public or charter school in Providence. This school year the program has committed $75,000 to projects in 22 of the city’s 24 elementary schools, projects that reach beyond simple academic education in ways that stimulate both students and teachers.
The Carters’ efforts are more than generous – they reveal a deep attachment to the state and a belief in the transformative power of the individual given a little push. We all should thank them. •