FabNewport strives to close the equity gap in Rhode Island among middle and high school students and since our founding the majority of our resources and practices serve BIPOC youth in low performing school districts. We serve about 5,200 youth year-round in Providence and Newport.
In January, 2022, FabNewport developed the Heart Club in Thompson Middle School.
Initially, Ellen Pinnock, Director of Community Engagement, gathered individually with students who had above average dean referrals. From these one-on-one conversations, she started small group meetings of what was named the Heart Club, where the goal was to provide an additional level of support and empathy that the students were seeking . During these gatherings, Ellen listened to their stories of being misunderstood and made to feel less than and started to build trusting relationships with the students. Chris Gross, FabNewport’s Chief Empathy Officer started to accompany Ellen and quickly became her partner in the Heart Club. The pair have been leading the initiative for two years.
Since it’s inception, The Heart Club has provided a social emotional safe environment where students feel respected and can put into practice their developing life skills.
Ellen and Chris act as personal coaches to students, operating through a social emotional lens. The group plays games, has conversations around restorative practices, accountability, and take field trips among many other activities. Many Heart Club students have improved in attendance, dean referrals and overall happiness. At this time there are over 40 students that are part of Heart Club and we hope to have many more enrolled over the next few years.