Latino Policy Institute becomes independent from Roger Williams University

PROVIDENCE – The Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University announced on Monday it will become independent from the college, starting July 1.

After 14 years with the university, the group said it will become an “independent research and advocacy organization,” focusing on expanding its efforts and making a nationwide impact on the Latino community.

“During its partnership with Roger Williams University, LPI has been instrumental in shaping policy decisions related to important issues such as health disparities, driving privileges for undocumented immigrants, and housing for Latinos in Rhode Island,” said Marcela Betancur, executive director of the Latino Policy Institute. “As LPI sets its sights on national impact, it is excited to continue collaborating with Roger Williams University and other higher education institutions on research and projects that serve the Latino community.”

Roger Williams said it is proud to have been a partner of the institute.

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“While LPI is ready to start moving in new and independent ways, we still look forward to continuing to partner with them on research and projects that serve Rhode Island and the Latino community,” said Ioannis N. Miaoulis, president of the university.

Founded in 2005, the Institute became affiliated with Roger Williams in 2009. Since then, it has conducted research and analysis into the Latino experience in Rhode Island, in efforts to “shape public policy discourse” and advocate for the Latino community in the state. And while proud of the work it has accomplished so far, Betancur said the Institute felt “ready” to become independent. This will allow them to broaden their research and advocacy work and expand their reach in the region and in the country.

“What we’re hoping for the independence is to be able to have different funding sources that we’ll be able to take advantage of, and some more flexibility around our focus area,” Betancur said. “Right now, we’re the only Latino Policy Institute in the state. We’re Latino-led and Latino-focused and want to make sure, how can we continue to grow that in New England and further?”

The Institute will temporarily work out of offices in the Olneyville neighborhood, Betancur said, and will likely start the search for a permanent location in 2024.

“RWU recognizes the transformative potential of community engagement for deepening student learning, spurring innovative teaching and scholarship, and building strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with local communities,” said Margaret Everett, provost of Roger Williams. “Our collaborations with the Latino Policy Institute have been instrumental to the development of this work, and we look forward to continuing to partner with LPI in the future.”

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at