Community Partnerships

An artwork by Shepard Fairey titled RI Angel of Hope and Strength projected onto the RISD Auditorium exterior at night in downtown Providence
Engage with us

Areas of impact

In connecting RISD students, faculty, curators and leaders with people and organizations locally and worldwide, the Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) helps advance RISD’s mission to serve the greater good through art and design education and practice, and extends and amplifies the impact of our strategic vision.

high school students sit at a long table inside the Project Open Door studio

K-12 support

A known champion of art and design’s importance to 21st-century education, RISD has been a fixture in local education for decades, engaging with K-12 students through a variety of programs and services. 

As the only comprehensive arts museum in southeastern New England, the RISD Museum attracts more than 10,000 K-12 students each year. Many also turn to the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab to discover connections between art, design and the natural world.

RISD also helps connect local teens with opportunities to explore creative practice via Project Open Door, an arts enrichment program for under-resourced high school students in and around Providence, and through various young artist programs offered by RISD Continuing Education

"Vote" graphic

Social justice and equity

Established in 2019, the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion leads and supports several initiatives focused on issues of justice, equity and inclusion on campus. These include faculty support for related research and pedagogy, workshops and lectures, and the SEI Faculty Fellows Program. The Center for Complexity—RISD’s project-based innovation hub—also engages in justice-oriented research and practice, such as healthcare and public policy reform.

RISD students also discover numerous opportunities to turn creative practice toward the greater good. Among these are studios involving area nonprofits and civic leaders, RISD Museum programs that aim to increase representation and inclusion in museum spaces, and scholarship, grant and internship programs.

One such program is the Maharam Steam Fellows, through which select students pursue socially engaged projects with a wide range of government and community-based organizations.

Students constructing concrete polygons and submerging them into a river.


Achieving a more sustainable future is central to RISD’s approach to art and design education. This mission is supported by a campus community invested in the pursuit of environmental justice. 

Among several academic pathways specifically focused on environmental issues, RISD offers a Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (NCSS) master’s program and undergraduate concentration, and a coastal sustainability master’s program established by the Landscape Architecture department and the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Marine Affairs. NCSS also sponsors Climate Futures, a symposium that offers climate scholars, activists and others a public forum for sharing research on sustainability and design.

RISD’s Nature Lab provides several avenues for exploring the intersection of art, design and living systems. These include a state-of-the-art, National Science Foundation grant-funded biodesign makerspace.

Economic Impact Report

RISD enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with the city of Providence, which is also known as the Creative Capital. This is based on shared goals: to enrich local culture and bolster quality of life in Rhode Island’s urban center. Each year RISD publishes an economic impact report to highlight the variety of ways we contribute to the city.

2019 Economic Impact Report

Learn how RISD directly supports the local economy, creates quality of place in Providence and engages with the community through various initiatives and programming.

Center leadership

Supported by the Community Engagement Advisory Committee and with input from across the institution, the CCP is led by Executive Director Bethany Costello. In this role, Costello develops near- and longterm strategies to increase awareness of RISD’s mission, goals and agendas. She also works with internal and external stakeholders to steward new and existing community partnerships in support of RISD’s civic engagement efforts.

  1. Babette Allina, Executive Director of Government Relations
    Patricia Barbeito, Dean of Faculty
    Siobhan Boehm, Trustee and Community Relations Coordinator (Advisory Group staff support)
    Sarah Caggiano, Executive Director of Continuing and Expanded Education
    Shana Cinquemani, Department Head of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design
    Deborah Clemons, Assistant Director of Academic and Public Programs
    Bethany Costello (chair), Director of Community Relations
    Sarah Cunningham, Associate Provost for Research and Strategic Partnerships
    Kelsey Elder, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
    Gwen Farrelly, Executive Director of RISD Global
    Karen Harris, Internship Manager, Career Center
    Lili Hermann, Professor of Landscape Architecture
    Alicia Luzon, Talent Acquisition Partner
    Erika Paradis, Director of the Center for Student Involvement
    Suzanne Scanlan, Senior Lecturer in Theory and History of Art of Design
    Matthew Shenoda, Associate Provost for Social Equity and Inclusion

    Kaanchi Chopra
    Kristina Hyunseo Kim
    Jackie Oh
    Erin Roman
    Junpeng Shi
    Andrew Storck
    John Wayne

Engaging locally and worldwide

Perspectives on Praxis

RISD students test ideas about art and pedagogy by working directly with local teenagers.

New Scholarships Boost Accessibility

RISD’s Continuing Education division partners with multiple nonprofits to support BIPOC youth interested in pursuing careers in art and design.

Crossing the Pell 

RISD Interior Architecture students propose innovative designs for adding pedestrian and cycling lanes to the suspension bridge connecting Newport and Jamestown, RI.

Maharam Fellowships Support Greater Good

In keeping with RISD’s strategic plan, this summer’s 10 Maharam fellows use their design skills to promote social justice and sustainability.

Echoes of Jim Crow

An interactive on-campus exhibition brings to life the civil rights movement and ongoing struggle against racism and segregation in the US.

Dorner Prize Revived

Winning 2020 proposals for RISD Museum installations on hold since last March are finally coming to fruition.

Teens Connect through RISD

Continuing Education partners with Rhode Island Department of Education to offer free online art and design classes to underserved youth.

Saving Superman

Grad students in Interior Architecture propose new uses for a long-vacated former bank building in downtown Providence.

RISD Architects Think Small

Five affordable, net-zero homes designed in a RISD studio are being built in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood.