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10 To Watch: Taino Palermo

As Community Development and Healthy Communities Program Director, Taino Palermo is making sure everyone has access to education.

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Name: Taino Palermo
Occupation: Community Development and Healthy Communities Program Director, School of Continuing Studies at Roger Williams University (Providence campus)
Age: 32
Neighborhood: Edgewood
Community involvement: Co-chair, Rhode Island Commission for Health Advocacy and Equity; board member, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation; board of governors, The Miriam Hospital

“Anchor institutions understand their role and obligation in society and the powerful impact they can have on the surrounding community,” explains Taino Palermo. In addition to directing two degree programs that are the only ones of their kind in the state, he’s working to make Roger Williams the model of an anchor institution. This year, he’s working with RWU Center for Workforce and Professional Development to launch the third male and second female cohorts of Pivot the Hustle, a career-readiness program for prisoners. He will oversee the growth of RWU’s role in Advanced Coursework Network, already the largest in the state, with more than 200 high school students taking free college credit courses. In May, he’ll graduate the first cohort of dual-enrolled students at Juanita Sanchez High School, who will receive a certificate degree in Community Development and 15 college credits. In the fall, he’ll launch Gateway to College, a first of its kind in the state intervention program that will bring students in danger of dropping out to RWU, where they will work simultaneously on a high school diploma and associate’s degree. “Roger Williams takes this role very seriously and is doing the work to prove it,” he says. “We’re taking bold and innovative steps in hopes that other anchor institutions in the state will follow our lead.”