TogetherRI initiative will promote civil dialogue over a neighborly meal in Newport on March 28

The Rhode Island Foundation is launching a new initiative designed to get people talking with each other again and Newport will host one of the first “TogetherRI” community conversations March 28. The get-togethers will give people the opportunity to talk face-to-face over family-style meals.

“We’re offering a place for listening, reconnecting and inspiring civil dialogue at a time when people are more ‘connected’ via social media, yet more disconnected from each other personally than ever,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Our hope is that participants will meet someone new and will leave knowing that their voice was heard.”

TogetherRI will be in Newport Wednesday, March 28, at Rogers High School from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. People can register to attend at togetherri.org, but RSVPs are not required.

“This is an opportunity for everyone – no matter where they live or what they care about – to come together to strengthen social connections, to be heard, to discuss opportunities and challenges and to strengthen the foundation of our community,” said Steinberg.

The Newport event is among the 20 get-togethers scheduled across the state through May 5. The locations were selected to provide convenient places to gather no matter where people live or work in Rhode Island. The full schedule is posted on the website.

“Each and every Rhode Islander has a role to play in ensuring our collective success. These conversations will be a neutral place for dialogue on topics that are critical to our common future, and a place where we hope the recent tendency toward divisiveness and polarization will be left at the door,” said Steinberg.

Independent, professional facilitators will guide the sessions. The University of Rhode Island’s Social Science Institute for Research, Education, and Policy will collate the information shared at TogetherRI conversations and administer and aggregate data from a brief, anonymous, participant survey. 

The Foundation expects to announce the topline results at its annual meeting May 24 and to release a complete report this summer. 

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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