The Providence Rotary Club Levels the Literacy Playing Field

From athletes to journalists, a fundraiser welcomes inspiring legends while raising funds for public schools


What do Kevin Stacom, Vinny Paz, Malcolm Mitchell, and former Attorney General Arlene Violet have in common? You may know them as stars in their fields of basketball, boxing, football, and law, respectively, but they will also be among dozens of accomplished professionals having dinner with guests at the Providence Rotary Club’s annual Legends for Literacy Gala on October 25 at the Providence Marriott Downtown. One of the legends will be seated at each table, sharing stories from their worlds and posing for selfies with their fans and dinner companions.

It’s a fundraiser that’s also fun – and we should mention that Barry W. Fain, co-publisher of this magazine, as well as past president and foundation trustee of the Rotary Club of Providence, is honorary chair of the event.

The Legends for Literacy and guests will gather to help address one of the most critical problems facing Providence: the dismally low achievements in literacy among students in the city’s public schools. “While top state, city, and district officials grapple with high-level issues of governance, funding, labor relations, etc., our Childhood Literacy Initiative is focused on providing and measuring the effectiveness of innovative literacy teaching tools at the classroom level,” says Art Norwalk, chair of the club’s literacy committee.

Using a literacy toolkit purchased by the Childhood Literacy Initiative last year, teachers at Harry Kizirian Elementary School in Smith Hill helped significant numbers of at-risk students make measurable progress toward literacy, with some achieving grade-level proficiency.

“The upward progress of some students was certainly gratifying,” says Natalie Hartley, literacy coach at Kizirian, “but the statistical results for the whole at-risk group showed that much work remains to be done. The tools we’ve received from the Rotary Club have been a valuable supplement to what we get through the school department’s limited budget.”


Tickets and sponsorship information for the Legends for Literacy Gala are available at


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