Jeromina “Niimo” Nix, Breakthrough Providence’s College Bound Program Director, has been selected to the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island’s 2019-2020 Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) class to tackle issues like pay equity, sexual harassment in the workplace, and gender discrimination, which are impacted directly by the work of leaders at the local and state level.

While 36% of the RI General Assembly in 2019 were women, gender equity at all levels of government locally and nationally has yet to be achieved. Studies show that when there is a higher percentage of women advocating for change, support for women’s issues moves in the right direction.

WPI was launched in 2008 to build a progressive movement in Rhode Island. It focuses on a broad range of women’s issues, fostering opportunities for cross-issue learning during sessions, and encouraging participants to work in coalition. WPI explicitly focuses on supporting a culture and agenda of policy advocacy within participants’ home organizations and communities. This work expands the program’s reach beyond those who directly participate.

“We’re excited to see Niimo grow and learn through this wonderful initiative,” stated Carlon Howard, Breakthrough Providence’s Executive Director. “Niimo has been instrumental in our organization’s success over the past few years, and we’re looking forward to leveraging the skills she develops through the Institute to continue building our advocacy efforts for Providence youth.”

WPI will meet monthly for nine full-day sessions beginning in September. Led by facilitator Paula Hodges of Anchor Strategies, topics covered include policy formation, community organizing, and testifying. The full-day workshops include guest presenters and community leaders involved in policy and advocacy. In the coming months, fellows will work on drafting and introducing their own legislation while creating a strategic campaign plan to guide them through the legislative session. Graduates of the program have gone on to run for office successfully; others have stayed involved in advocating for community change through a variety of organizations and coalitions.

This program is free of charge and made possible by donors and sponsors, including the Rhode Island Foundation, the Otto H. York Foundation, Trimix Foundation, Alliant Credit Union and a matching gift provided by members of the Prospect Hill Foundation.