My Story

Without an excellent public education, the majority of children will struggle to succeed for the rest of their lives. I can say from experience that receiving a high-quality education was one of the determining factors in my life. I grew up in Queens with parents who immigrated to the US from Trinidad. They instilled in me the belief that education is the most important determining factor in a young person’s life. I did pretty well in school, and then something happened that changed the trajectory of my life. My 5th grade teacher set me on a path to success when she recommended I test into a high-quality middle school. I was admitted and I went on to receive an extraordinarily generous high school scholarship to a private boarding school, from which I went on to study at Brown University. That scholarship, along with one teacher’s belief in me early on, arguably made all the difference in my life. I decided to go into education because I wanted to improve public schools that are full of little kids who look like me and deserve the opportunities that I had.

I believe high quality public education should be the norm and not the exception.

While in my Master's program in teaching at Brown I discovered that I felt called to do what I could to improve public education for all students. After teaching first grade for a handful of years, I deferred my acceptance to Columbia University’s doctoral program so that I could work with public school teachers on a larger scale. I started a professional development organization whose high-quality, teacher-led, proven PD garnered national attention from the New York Times and NBC.

Christine Wiltshire Alves, Executive Director

RISPE’s Story

The Rhode Island School for Progressive Education (RISPE) is a direct result of more than a decade of work in Rhode Island’s urban public schools. RISPE is Rhode Island’s first residency-style graduate school of education. I began designing RISPE over four years ago, and my team and I finally received unanimous approval to operate as a brand new institution of higher education from the state in March 2019. RISPE’s goal is to improve outcomes for all students in Rhode Island’s urban public schools by diversifying the teacher pipeline, training actively anti-racist educators, and placing RISPE residents with highly effective mentor teachers for an immersive yearlong residency. RISPE will use best practices that have been piloted and proven in public schools across the country to train and prepare highly effective teachers of color for Rhode Island’s urban public schools.

With your help, we can change urban public education in Rhode Island and make RISPE a national model for education reform. RISPE’s goal is to make the type of education I received in high-priced private schools available to all our state’s urban school children. More children need access to excellent educators, and we need an effective, sustainable way of recruiting a diverse group of the best of the best individuals into the teaching field, preparing them for success in the classroom, and supporting them in their professional growth. That’s what RISPE will do for Rhode Island’s urban public schools.

Your Role in RISPE

I wouldn’t be here today without the philanthropic gift that allowed me to be a successful student. And if you agree with me that a high-quality education is a basic human right, please help me recruit and fully support a diverse cohort of 12 aspiring teachers for RISPE’s first cohort. We still need $500,000 in philanthropic support to fully cover the cost of tuition and provide a living stipend of $20,000 to all of our residents. My team and I are devoted to raising the full cost to support all five of our first cohorts—a grand total of $5 million—but we are asking for grassroots support of this first cohort from our larger community to complement foundation support from the Rhode Island Foundation, United Way of Rhode Island, the Joukowsky Family Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Any amount of support you can provide means the world to me. Join me and the rest of our supporters if you are willing to take bold steps to strengthen public K-12 education and close staggering equity and achievement gaps, specifically for our students of color and students living in urban, high-poverty communities.

Join Us!

Become a Grassroots Member: $25-$100 Become a Community Patron: $500

Become a Diversity Cheerleader: $1000 Become an Equity Champion: $5000

Fellowship Naming Opportunities

Support a Resident: $70,000

Support a cohort: $600,000

Or support us at any level! We appreciate every contribution.

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If you prefer, checks can be made payable to The Rhode Island School for Progressive Education and mailed to 225 Dyer St, 2nd Floor, Providence, RI 02903.