Genesis Center Awarded $149,780 by United Way of Rhode Island to Fund Two Projects

Grants to Genesis Center are part of United Way’s $3.1 million investment in programs that focus on housing stability, lifelong learning for children and adults, and helping families meet their basic needs

Providence, R.I. (May 4, 2016): Genesis Center has been awarded two grants by United Way of Rhode Island in the amount of $149,780 to support Adult Education and Early Childhood Education and its work to provide high-quality educational and support services that lead to employment for low-income community residents. 

The grant is awarded by United Way for the first year of its new 2016-2019 competitive grant cycle, with a focus on funding efforts that help kids fall in love with learning, help adults reach new career goals, and help families meet their basic needs and achieve economic independence. In total, United Way has awarded $3.1 million in grants among the $12 million it has committed through 2019 to help change the lives of 250,000 Rhode Islanders by 2020, the overarching goal of its new strategic plan, LIVE UNITED 2020.

Through its Integrated Program Platform for adult learners, Genesis Center will be able to expand its adult basic education services that combine financial literacy, job readiness, and computer skills with targeted English and/or literacy instruction to give students the skills to compete in today’s job market.  To accomplish this, Genesis will offer classes at partner organizations and augment its online learning capacity.

In its Early Learning Center, Genesis will be implementing several strategies to improve its learning opportunities for low-income, mainly immigrant children, including holistic supports with a strong focus on helping families address barriers to success. Program enhancements will also promote the two-generation learning model, so both parents and children understand that education is a key driver to goal attainment.

“We are excited that UWRI chose to fund both our adult education and early childhood education programs.  Genesis Center has a unique arrangement that allows us to engage families around a common goal that emphasizes education as a vehicle for family success and promotes a two-generation learning model,” says Shannon Carroll, president and chief executive officer of Genesis Center.

Genesis Center submitted its funding applications in response to United Way’s request for proposals last fall. The submission was one of 224 proposals received by United Way. Funding proposals were put through a vigorous review process by a diverse group of 75 United Way community volunteers, who spent nearly six months reviewing proposals before delivering their funding recommendations to the United Way Community Investment Advisory Committee for approval. Volunteers received more than ten hours of training to become reviewers, and were tasked with taking a total of $16.5 million in funding requests to allocate the $3.1 million made available by United Way.


“While our goal of changing 250,000 lives by 2020 is ambitious, the innovative ideas of the funding proposals we received really captured the forward thinking we need to make the vision a reality,” said Anthony Maione, President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “We know that when families have access to stable housing, children receive the opportunities they need to succeed in the classroom, and adults get the support they need to advance in the workforce, there’s no limit to how strong our communities can become—and that helps everyone.”





About Genesis Center

Genesis Center, founded thirty-three years ago in Providence’s West End, is a multi-service organization offering high-quality adult education, job training, and childcare services for low-income community members, immigrants, and refugees who want to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Today, it serves more than 800 adults and children every year from over 35 countries. The mission of Genesis is “to provide the highest quality education, job training and support services to people of diverse cultures so that they may achieve economic independence and participate fully in society.

About United Way of Rhode Island

United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) has been working to improve the quality of life in Rhode Island for nearly 90 years. Together with its partners, UWRI is changing lives and strengthening our communities by investing in proven programs that work over the short-term, and are scalable over the long-term. For more information, visit


Posted on May 4, 2016 .

Genesis Chosen as a Champion in Action

PROVIDENCE – Citizens Bank and NBC 10 today announced Genesis Center as a 2016 Champion in Action® in the category of strengthening communities through workforce development. Genesis Center will receive $35,000 in unrestricted funding, media coverage, and extensive promotional and volunteer support for its outstanding work.

The Genesis Center seeks to provide the highest quality education, job training and support services to people of diverse cultures with an emphasis on economic independence. Their services include job training, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), a national external diploma program and centers for both financial literary and early education. Through their education and training programs, Genesis served more than 700 adults last year in Rhode Island.

“Genesis Center connects people to critical training and resources which lead to meaningful employment,” said Barbara Cottam, Rhode Island market executive, Citizens Bank. “By naming Genesis Center a Champion in Action, we are providing resources to enable them to increase their job training services and quality education programs for local families and individuals seeking economic independence. Genesis Center is the embodiment of the type of organization we support through our Champions in Action program.”

Champions in Action is part of Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities, the bank’s program designed to enhance quality of life and economic vitality in local communities. It provides support for small nonprofit organizations to recognize their contributions to communities throughout Rhode Island.

“Alongside Citizens Bank, NBC 10 is pleased to recognize Genesis Center, one of Rhode Island’s top education providers,” said Vic Vetters, vice president and general manager of NBC 10. “Supporting effective work readiness training is central to Champions in Action’s commitment to the Rhode Island workforce, and we look forward to working with Genesis.”

 “Genesis Center is committed to providing high-quality adult education and workforce development programs that empower individuals and families to break the cycle of poverty by increasing their employability and improving their financial stability,” said Shannon Carroll, president and chief executive officer, Genesis Center. “Thanks to the generosity of programs like Champions in Action, Genesis is creating a community that works.”

As a Champion in Action, Genesis Center will receive:

  • A $35,000 contribution in unrestricted funds from Citizens Bank;
  • Media coverage from NBC 10, including public service announcements and television profiles over the course of six months;
  • Volunteer support from Citizens’ and NBC 10’s colleagues;
  • The opportunity for the organization’s executive director to participate in a “Executive-to-Executive” mentorship with Citizens Bank’s RI Market Executive, Barbara Cottam;
  • Extensive public relations support;
  • Promotional support highlighting the Champion in Action on all Citizens Bank branch DCN screens and on its ATMs;
  • Exposure on both Citizens Bank and NBC 10 websites.

For more information about the Citizens Bank and NBC 10 Champions in Action program,
About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $135.4 billion in assets as of September 30, 2015. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle‐market companies, large corporations and institutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens helps its retail customers “bank better” with mobile and online banking, a 24/7 customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,200 ATMs and approximately 1,200 Citizens Bank branches in 11 states in the New England, Mid‐Atlantic and Midwest regions. Citizens also provides mortgage lending, auto lending, student lending and commercial banking services in select markets nationwide. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers corporate, institutional and not‐for‐profit clients a full range of wholesale banking products and services including lending and deposits, capital markets, treasury services, foreign exchange and interest hedging, leasing and asset finance, specialty finance and trade finance. Citizens operates through its subsidiaries Citizens Bank, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. Additional information about Citizens and its full line of products and services can be found at

Posted on January 22, 2016 .

PBN: 5 Questions with: Shannon Carroll





Shannon Carroll is president and CEO of the Providence-based Genesis Center.

Posted: Friday, November 6, 2015 4:51 am


Shannon Carroll is president and CEO of the Providence-based Genesis Center, a post she has held for a little more than a year after serving as vice president of programs and then senior vice president of operations. The nonprofit provides education, job training and support services to immigrants, refugees and low-income families to help them achieve economic independence. Here, Carroll discusses how the nonprofit fulfills its mission.

PBN: Of the educational, job training and support services the center offers, which generate the most demand and how are you meeting it?

CARROLL: Our primary programs are ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), job training in the fields of health care and culinary arts, early childhood education, citizenship preparation, high school credentialing and wrap-around support services, including case management, job counseling and financial coaching.

We have waiting lists for almost all of our programs, but ESOL, with over 200 individuals at any given time, sees the most demand. To address this, we have expanded our evening program, implemented a distance-learning platform, and have been reaching out to local schools to offer onsite ESOL classes to parents of their students.


An important aspect of our program design is our interconnectivity, which also helps us address the multiple needs of our learners and meet demand in an efficient manner. For example, job readiness, computer instruction and financial literacy are embedded in all of our ESOL classes, from “absolute beginner” to transitions to college and careers. Learners can acquire the critical skills to succeed in today’s economy while building English proficiency. They can also transition from ESOL to one of our job training programs once their English improves. In addition, we have onsite childcare so parents and children can learn together in one building.

PBN: The Rhode Island Foundation just awarded the center a $47,265 grant that will help expand employment counseling services and establish a hybrid e-learning resource for unemployed and underemployed adult learners. Tells us about this e-learning resource.

CARROLL: We needed to expand our job counseling services to reach our highly motivated evening ESOL learners, who usually are attending classes after work so they can improve their English to get better jobs. With more intensive job counseling services, these learners can fine-tune their goals and get the necessary support to start on a career pathway.

The hybrid e-learning platform we are developing offers individualized curriculum options to augment classroom learning. Participants take an assessment that identifies competencies that need to be developed, and an online learning plan is developed to meet their specific learning needs. A classroom facilitator is assigned to guide each student and offer assistance, but much of the work can be completed at home to intensify and accelerate learning gains.

As the program takes off, we are confident that we will be able to serve more students in a more efficient way and, as a result, amplify our impact on the community by creating a more educated community that is prepared to meet the demands of today’s workforce. We are so appreciative of the support that the Rhode Island Foundation has provided us over the years.

PBN: What percentage of your clients are immigrants and what unique services do they require?

CARROLL: Approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of our clients are immigrants; the others are individuals who were born and raised in the U.S. and want to develop employment skills or get their high school diploma.

Last year, we convened a series of focus groups, and the overwhelming feedback was that the Genesis Center creates a welcoming environment for its learners. So, whether someone is an immigrant or not, we want everyone to feel that they are in a comfortable and safe environment that will promote learning and build confidence to attain their goals.

While we have nearly 40 countries represented in our student body and we embrace that diversity, the fact that someone is an “immigrant” is tangential to the services they receive that are always client-centered, outcomes-focused and mission-driven. Before I moved into administration, I was an ESOL teacher for adult learners, and I found that when students are engaged and relaxed, they learn better. That is the culture I still try to foster as I lead the center.

Having said this, there are pragmatic concerns when serving a large foreign-born population that covers a broad spectrum from new immigrants and refugees to immigrants who have been in the U.S. for many years. Wrap-around support services help students manage a myriad of issues, such as childcare, transportation, access to medical care, etc., that could hinder their progress.

Furthermore, our teachers need to be flexible, as a one-size-fits-all curriculum will not work. Many times an ESOL class may have a college graduate sitting next to a person who didn’t complete elementary school in his or her own country. That requires some savvy lesson planning, and our teachers are trained to adapt their materials and instruction to meet this range of learning abilities.

Our staff recognizes that our clients, while they may lack English proficiency, are highly motivated individuals who are seeking the skills to create better lives for themselves and their families. The research we did last year confirmed this and led us to create our new tagline, “Genesis Center: where the will to achieve meets the skill to succeed.” We aim to provide the tools to our learners and families to realize their goals.

PBN: The center serves more than 650 people a year in adult education and workforce development. Is this number growing and, if so, what other funding sources are you developing to help provide services?

CARROLL: It is growing, but we are limited by the space available in our facility and adult education funding, which has decreased in recent years. We hope that our partnerships with local schools, employers and our distance learning program will allow us to continue serving more participants.

We were very happy to receive a Governor’s Workforce Board Innovation grant this year that, in partnership with CharterCARE Health Partners and the city of Providence, has allowed us to develop a series of workforce trainings specifically tailored to CharterCARE. This type of partnership is what we and other education providers in the state need to be doing – providing contextualized training that builds basic literacy skills while simultaneously putting people on a career pathway.

It’s not simply about getting jobs anymore; people need opportunities to build careers that will promote family economic stability. We are confident that as more funders see the great results we’re getting, they’ll be more likely to invest in our programs. In fact, we saw the center’s highest job placement rate ever, 163 jobs in the 2014-15 program year.

PBN: As the leader of the center, what is your long-term vision for growth?

CARROLL: If we want to secure the resources to grow, we must promote awareness of our programs and our results.

A visitor to the center recently called us a “hidden gem,” and I think it’s time we no longer fly under the radar. I hope to get more exposure so we can attract more investment in our programs, which is really an investment in all of Rhode Island. The majority of our students come to Genesis to get a job, get a better job or build a career. To do that to the best of our ability, one of the critical pieces is to get employers on board.

I want employers to recognize the hugely valuable resource available to them through adult education providers, and to get to a place where we can work directly with employers to develop and implement programs that meet their hiring needs. We have eager future employees ready to train – and we can provide tailor-made, contextualized, high-quality trainings at a low cost. It’s a win for our learners and the employers.

We are also working to develop closer ties with higher education to provide seamless transitions to college credit-bearing classes so our students can acquire the necessary credentials to continue on their career pathways. I believe that a consolidated effort among community-based training providers, employers and higher education institutions can create a more workable world for all Rhode Islanders.

Posted on November 16, 2015 .

"Like" The Bottaro Law Firm and Raise money for Genesis Center


Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorneys, The Bottaro Law Firm
We are extremely excited and proud to kick off our charity partnership program this month with theGenesis Center, a wonderful organization that serves over 600 individuals in adult education, workforce development, and over 100 children in its childcare program each year. For every NEW page like the Bottaro Law Firm receives this month, we will donate this non-profit $1, so be sure to share this with friends and family to help raise awareness and donations! Thank you.


Posted on November 16, 2015 .

Genesis President Receives Prestigious Award

Genesis Center is proud to announce that our president, Shannon Carroll, is one of this year's recipients of the College of the Holy Cross Sanctae Crucis award!  Read more here.

From left, John Mahoney, chair of the board of trustees; Rev. John H. Vaughn ’82; William K. Olsen, Jr. ’86; Joan Hogan Gillman ’85; Shannon C. Carroll ’92; David G. Butler, M.D. ’61; Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president. Image by Shannon Power

From left, John Mahoney, chair of the board of trustees; Rev. John H. Vaughn ’82; William K. Olsen, Jr. ’86; Joan Hogan Gillman ’85; Shannon C. Carroll ’92; David G. Butler, M.D. ’61; Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president. Image by Shannon Power

Posted on September 23, 2015 .

Chef Joshua Riazi to Compete in Armory Market Annual Seafood Throwdown

Two Local Chefs.... One Mystery Fish

Come see Chef Anthony of Table and Chef Joshua of Genesis Center duke it out at the grand opening of the Armory Farmers Market in the third annual Seafood Throwdown!  On Thursday, May 28 at 4 pm at Armory Park, the two chefs will face off by preparing a delicious dish using only a "surprise" seafood ingredient and a few items purchased at the market.

The event is co-sponsored between Farm Fresh RI and Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. Event hosts are Robin Dionne of the arcade providence and John Taraborelli of... just about everything. Culinary Creations will be judged by Peter Gobin of Mijos Tacos, two time Seafood Throwdown champion, Jim Nellis of RI FOOD FIGHTS, Julius Kolawole of African Alliance of Rhode Island and Jen McCann of Rhode Island Sea Grant. Come on out and learn about local seafood, buy some delicious veggies, and find out who this year's champion will be!

Posted on May 20, 2015 .

Genesis Center chosen as a 2015 Local Hero by Edible Rhody Readers


Farm Farmer – Diana Kushner – Arcadian Fields
Chef Restaurant – Matthew MacCartney – Jamestown Fish
Food Artisan – Andrea Colognese – Village Hearth Bakery
Beverage Artisan – David Lanning – Dave’s Coffee
Food, Wine or Retail Shop – Grapes & Gourmet
Food Related Nonprofit – The Genesis Center Culinary Arts Training Program



Posted on March 24, 2015 .

Providence language teacher helps newcomers from diverse backgrounds succeed in English Published: August 31, 2014 11:20 PM

Malaika Alexander, 33, the daughter of Peace Corps volunteers, teaches English at the Genesis Center in Providence .

Malaika Alexander, 33, the daughter of Peace Corps volunteers, teaches English at the Genesis Center in Providence.


Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Her parents met while serving in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone. She grew up in various countries, but not the United States until she was 15. As a little girl, she dreamed of serving in the Peace Corps, too, and she did, in Jamaica.

Malaika Alexander, 33, teaches English to speakers of other languages. The Providence resident knows what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange country, and she is most at home “surrounded by lots of diversity and different outlooks.”

She works at the Genesis Center, a nonprofit that provides education, job training and support to, as its mission statement says, “people of diverse cultures so that they may achieve economic independence and participate fully in society.” The center is at 620 Potters Ave. in the West End.

In her class, which is Level II ESOL, she might have “a Buddhist monk sitting next to someone who just came from a refugee camp in Africa sitting next to a woman from Poland.

“I’ve had up to 15 different nationalities in the class,” she said. She teaches in English. “Magic happens in the classroom.

“You just have to do a lot of acting. A lot of drama, a lot of repetition,” she said. “You really just have to teach with love, because love is a universal language.”

More than 600 adults a year learn at the Genesis Center, which cares for up to 100 children so their parents can attend classes. More than 25 countries and 10 language groups are represented, the center says on its website. Clients learn English and life skills and get job training so they can support themselves and their families. In July, the center was chosen by Vice President Joe Biden as one of the nation’s 30 model programs for the National Skills Coalition, which organizes and advocates to raise job skills.

With people from so many countries, Alexander said, “you have to practice a lot of nonjudgmental diplomacy, compassion and just love, because it’s intimidating to come to the U.S. and you don’t know a word of English. And God knows what they have just survived in their countries.”

She makes a point “to smile really brightly and say, ‘Good morning, it’s a beautiful day and how is everyone doing today?’ I try to stay as positive as I can, and it’s amazing how the energy just changes in the class.”

Sometimes she team-teaches with her mother, who teaches the beginning class at the Genesis Center, adults “who have maybe just arrived here. They cannot read or write in their own language, let alone English.”

Malaika Alexander’s parents, Judy and James Alexander, met when both were serving in the West African nation of Sierra Leone in the late 1960s. He was from Alabama and she from Ohio, and they got married in New York. They rejoined the Peace Corps and served in Liberia before returning to Sierra Leone, where Malaika was born. Malaika means angel in Swahili, Judy said.

Then the family moved to Sri Lanka in South Asia, where Malaika remembers a birthday when a neighbor’s baby elephant gave rides. They moved back to Africa, where they lived in Sudan and Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, she went to Hippo Valley Elementary, she said.

“I can relate firsthand” to how someone might feel who has just arrived, she said. “I can relate to a lot of the cultural struggles of being in the United States.” She offers encouragement to her students, saying, “It’s not easy. Take it one day at a time.”

It’s exciting, she said, to watch a student become a citizen.

“At the Genesis Center, when somebody gets their citizenship, when they finally take their citizenship exam and pass, that’s an amazing thing to see.”

What comes across from them is the importance of citizenship and freedom, she said, “Being proud to be an American.”

Another milestone for students is getting a job. “When you see someone who started off with my mom, an absolute beginner, and two years later they’re not only filling out their own application, but getting hired for a full-time job … things like that make you really happy to see.”

On Twitter:  @donita22

Posted on September 2, 2014 .

Genesis Grad opens new cafe on West Side

Lunch & Dinner / 7 days a week  401- 270-5533

Lunch & Dinner / 7 days a week

401- 270-5533

One of our very own just opened Blend Cafe featuring modern Latin American Cuisine.  The restaurant is located at 745 Reservoir Avenue in Cranston, RI.  Take your taste buds on a trip to Blend Cafe for original Latin cuisine.

Posted on August 19, 2014 .

Genesis chosen by Vice President Biden as a "model program."

July 22, 2014


Donald S. Keel, President and CEO of The Genesis Center is pleased to announce today that The Genesis Center has been chosen today by Vice President Joseph Biden for an honor bestowed upon only 30 nonprofit organizations around the country as part of the National Skills Coalition. The Genesis Center was selected as a "model program."

At noon, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) bill and Vice President Biden released the review of federal workforce programs that exemplify success.

Since January, the President has been shining a brighter spotlight on job-driven training as an essential pillar of our nation's economic strategy.

Today, the Administration has called for job-driven training across federal agencies and has profiled successful local efforts that he wants to see replicated throughout the country.

Link to the White House Report

watch the announcement, read the report and then scroll down to the map to find us.

The Genesis Center is honored to be one of the local efforts featured as a national model, " where the will to achieve meets the skill to succeed", The Genesis Center has been educating and enabling people from around the globe, not only how to speak English, but also how to become computer literate, build financial literacy, and make it in the American workplace.

Posted on August 7, 2014 .