Providence, with its world-class education system from elite Ivies to stellar public colleges, is not immune to “brain drain,” where the graduates from our universities head out of state to put their education to use. Travis Escobar is fighting that tide.
Born and bred in Rhode Island, Escobar describes himself as “a kid from South Providence.” He graduated from Rhode Island College and is committed to living, working, and staying in-state and wants others to do the same. This led him to co-found Millennial Rhode Island, a professional networking nonprofit run by volunteers where he serves as president. The organization is open to residents born from 1979-2000 who want to be connected to others who #ChooseRI.
By day, Escobar uses his connector skills as community relations manager at Fidelity Investments. Previously, he worked at the United Way of RI, leading lobbying efforts around education and notably helping to secure the Affordable Housing Bond Campaign for $65 million in 2021. He currently co-chairs the policy committee on the Providence Public Schools board, and is part owner of Papi’s Coquito, a startup liquor brand preparing to launch.
“The ongoing pandemic has certainly shaped my goals for the next year,” Escobar says. “We have seen all of society’s inequities magnified during this time. For my city, I just want to contribute to activities and efforts that help uplift and educate people. I believe everything I’m involved in meets that mission.”
Looking ahead, Escobar’s agenda is filling up. He is excited about rebuilding the state’s collective young professional networks with more in-person events through Millennial Rhode Island, where he’ll also focus his attention on fundraising efforts for the Lt. Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge. The first statewide business pitch competition for Rhode Island high school students, grades 9-12, the initiative is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship and promoting business ownership in the Ocean State. “That program will become more of a focus in our fundraising efforts next year to give back to our younger generation,” says Escobar, adding, “We awarded $14,000 in 2020 and are looking to get back in the swing of things in 2022.”
“There’s a lot to be hopeful for with the next generation,” says Escobar. “I think we’re going to see this combination between the two generations in our city come together and do some wonderful things.”
“Seeing my millennial peers develop and grow into amazing leadership opportunities has been great to witness over the past few years,” he continues, noting that there’s a lot to be hopeful for with the next generation. “Millennials in a lot of ways are becoming a bridge generation, a connector of Gen Z to older generations. We both have our whole lives ahead of us, yet at times, things can seem so dim. Because of that, I think those who are optimistic and have the energy within the younger generations to see a better version of Providence will stick it out to help improve our city.”
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