The Papitto Opportunity Connection, headed up by local philanthropist Barbara Papitto, recently awarded 10 BIPOC Rhode Island students who exhibited the ability to conceptualize transformative ideas for their communities with scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
“Nearly 200 students from 47 public, private, parochial and charter high schools from across Rhode Island – from Woonsocket to Newport – shared personal essays, thoughtful research, dynamic videos, and multimedia presentations,” the press release read.
The question posed to students to explore was, “If you had $1 million, how would you change Rhode Island’s communities of color?”
Cranston’s Jayden Chagnon, a junior at The Met School in Providence, earned himself a top-five spot and a $10,000 scholarship for his idea, “The Art & Maker Bus,” a mobile art studio that would travel around underserved areas of Rhode Island creating access to the arts, learning opportunities, and provide exposure for artists of color.
Students engaged their creativity in sharing their visions, and winners throughout the state provided solutions for the unhoused, ESL learning, educating Rhode Islanders about their cultural histories, medical interventions for underserved communities, and providing accessible and fun solutions (gaming) to teach Rhode Island’s youth valuable life skills.
“My idea was the Art & Maker bus,” Chagnon explained, “where the back of the bus would be converted into an art studio where kids and adults could create all different types of art including clothing.”
“I also wanted to create a website that can showcase all the art created in the bus so people in the BIPOC community, like underserved neighborhoods, could get exposure,” he said.
Jayden explained that as part of the entrepreneurship track at The Met School, he has created his own clothing business, where he either upcycles resale clothing, creates items adorned with motivational or inspirational words or phrases, or