23 Jul 2023

Papitto Opportunity Connection Partners with Leadership Rhode Island to Make 14-year-old Siya Singhal’s Million-Dollar Idea Come to Life

Josh Pereira


Providence, Rhode Island –For the second consecutive year, the Papitto Opportunity Connection has engaged Leadership Rhode Island (LRI), the statewide leadership development organization, with implementing the Transform Rhode Island Scholarship (TRIS) winning idea.

Established more than 40 years ago, LRI’s staff has extensive experience working with emerging and established leaders around civic engagement, community building, cross-cultural training, and place-based learning.
LRI will lead implementation, working alongside 14 year-old Siya Singhal, 2023 Transform Rhode Island Scholarship winner. LRI will utilize its vast network to help implement Singhal’s winning idea, designed to diversify Rhode Island by providing youth access and connecting elementary schools to non-profit cultural organizations through interactive seminars. The seminars will share the story of each organization’s culture and traditions so that students will feel culturally confident, gain a sense of pride and go to school feeling unique, instead of different.
“Knowing people flourish when they can show up authentically, we’re eager to take the first steps with Siya in helping Rhode Island students develop cultural competency and a sense of belonging,” said Michelle Carr, executive director, Leadership Rhode Island.

“For more than four decades Leadership Rhode Island has worked with the state’s emerging and established leaders to create pathways to success,” said John A. Tarantino, managing trustee of the Papitto Opportunity Connection. “We are confident that the guidance and support LRI will provide to Siya will allow her to successfully implement her big idea and ultimately create real change in communities of color in Rhode Island.”

“Collaborating with Mariam and the local design team has been energizing and inspiring, and we’re just getting started. With her guidance, seventy-five leaders in LRI’s core program are developing a series of community initiatives, educational programs, and career connections to turn Mariam’s vision for Woonsocket into a reality,” said Carr.

Kaba was recently honored by LRI and received the organization’s 2023 Emerging Leader Award which recognizes an outstanding young person whose vision, dedication, and leadership qualities have inspired others to take action to create community change in RI.

“It’s been a great experience working with the team at Leadership Rhode Island. They have been extremely supportive and always make sure my voice is heard as we work together to implement my project,” said Kaba.

For the second straight year, the Papitto Opportunity Connection asked Rhode Island high school students of color to answer one question: “If you had $1 million how you would change Rhode Island’s communities of color?”

Nearly 200 students from 47 public, private, parochial and charter high schools from across Rhode Island – from Woonsocket to Newport- shared personal essays, dynamic videos, and multimedia presentations.
For her transformative idea, focused on improving the lives of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities in Rhode Island, Singhal has received a $25,000 scholarship and has and has a seat at the table as the Papitto Opportunity Connection invests $1 million to make her idea come to life.

Nine other students also received scholarships as a result of their transformative ideas including: Nicolas Upegui, North Providence High; Eliza Vest, Freshman, Moses Brown; Jayden Chagnon, The Met School; Zachary Pinto, Senior, Shea High School Darius Ajakaiye, Moses Brown; Keyla Citron, Classical High; Adriyonna Lockhart, Rogers High; Donovan Turner, Classical High and Krystallyah Ratsabout, Dr. Jorge Alvarez High.

About the Papitto Opportunity Connection:
The Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC) is a non-profit private foundation dedicated to listening and working together with Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to empower and create individual success stories by investing in education, job skills training and entrepreneurial ventures. Since being established in December 2020 months ago, POC has invested in more than 250 non-profit organizations across the state that provide crucial services to uplift Rhode Island’s communities of color. Learn more at

About Leadership Rhode Island:
Leadership Rhode Island is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, established in 1981, whose mission is to “engage and connect people through shared experiences that positively transform individuals, organizations and communities.” For more information about Leadership Rhode Island’s mission, programs, and initiatives, please call 401-273-1574 or visit

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