The upside of hope in Rhode Island

Nine individuals who are bullish and optimistic amid the state's current tough times
By IAN DONNIS  |  January 29, 2009

Photo by Frank Mullin

Angus Davis
Age: 30
Where he's from: Bristol
Level of hope and optimism for the state's future, on a scale of 1 to 10: 6.5. "Rhode Island has the ability to change itself. Rhode Island has the ability to solve its problems."
Angus Davis is keenly concerned with two inter-related problems: a shortage of good-paying jobs in Rhode Island, and the underperforming schools in many of the state's cities and towns.

"As someone who loves Rhode Island, I want something better for our state," says Davis, who serves on the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, chairing the board's charter school committee, and is co-chairing the search for the state's new education commissioner, among a handful of similar affiliations. Noting how poor immigrants are providing most of the population growth in the state, he says the woman folding laundry at the Westin "did not emigrate so that her children can fold laundry at the Westin."

As Davis notes, roughly 85 percent of the students in Providence are low-income children of color, and about half of them are not going to graduate from high school. That society allows this to go unchallenged, he says, is "a civil rights injustice that, I think, is probably the biggest civil rights issue of our time."

Davis, who was introduced to computers at a young age by one of his grandparents, went on to co-found Tellme Networks, a form of telephone applications that was acquired by Microsoft in 2007, and he remains actively involved with the company. He resides in Providence, he says, since his closest friends and family members are in Rhode Island. Even with the state's various issues, he says, "I think it's a great place to live."

Despite the intense challenge of improving public education, Davis counts himself cautiously optimistic about the state's future. Ultimately, he says, "[We have to] take a kids-first philosophy — we ought to ask ourselves, what's best for kids, and make our decisions accordingly."

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |   next >
  • An angry electorate? Eh, whatever
    Whither the rage? Rhode Island's Great Recession — greater, even, than the national model — was supposed to conjure a once-in-a-generation anti-incumbent fever. But so far, it's looking more like a modest headache.
  • Indentured servitude and other keys to the Rhode Island recovery
    Despite the continual awarding of tax breaks to various upper-income types, we Rhode Islanders are told our business climate is still near bottom. So I make these seven modest suggestions for addressing the problem.
  • Rhode Island's ticking time bomb
    This is a story about the pension crisis that's tearing apart Providence and Central Falls and just might lay waste to the whole goddamn state.
  • More more >
  Topics: News Features , Josh Miller , Providence Public Library , David N. Cicilline ,  More more >
| More
Featured Articles in News Features:
Share this entry with Delicious
    Five years ago, when Farm Fresh Rhode Island (FFRI) launched its mission of promoting Ocean State-produced food, co-founder Noah Fulmer discovered a curious disconnection in the local food chain.
  •   TICKET TO RIDE  |  February 11, 2009
    In April 1999, two weeks after I started on the job at the Providence Phoenix , the FBI raided City Hall, formally unveiling the federal investigation that would land Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr., Rhode Island's rascal king, behind bars.
    During a news conference Tuesday afternoon in the State House rotunda, proponents of significantly expanding publicly financed elections in Rhode Island — a concept they call "Fair Elections" — cited a litany of reasons for why it would be good for the Ocean State and its citizens.
  •   THE UPSIDE OF HOPE IN RHODE ISLAND  |  January 29, 2009
    Everywhere one turns these days, there's seemingly more bad news about Rhode Island: the unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation, tops 10 percent — and the state's running out of unemployment assistance.
    Former Providence Journal reporter Jan Brogan is out with her fourth mystery, Teaser .

 See all articles by: IAN DONNIS