• MLK Community Center

Starting Anew in Autumn: New Preschool Curriculum 🍂

Updated: Sep 11



Our dedicated team of educators were hard at work today (Friday, September 3rd), despite our Preschoolers having the day off! Armed with disinfectant wipes, nontoxic disinfectant sprays, and the time-honored DIY cleaning solution of vinegar, soap, & water, our teachers disinfected and cleaned every surface, play center, book, art supply, and every toy - yes, every single Lego block. Deep, preventative cleaning is important in and of itself, but it also sets the tone for a new school year - and for the rollout of a new Preschool curriculum. Our educators also replaced signage and relabled supplies, in both English and Spanish, in accordance with our new curriculum.

Pictured: Our building block area, like many other things in our Preschool classrooms, is now labeled in both English & Spanish.

Our Preschool classrooms have always followed a curriculum, which has prepared our students well: a prerequisite for Kindergarten is that students recognize 40 sight words, which is something our kiddos already do, well before entering Kindergarten. They’re so ahead of the game that most are actually reading - not only recognizing sight words - before even stepping foot into their Kindergarten classroom.

After much research and deliberation, Education Director Tanya Gonzalez made the decision to move to a new and improved Preschool curriculum for the 2021/2022 school year. Tanya worked with her team of educators, including Lead Preschool Teacher Valencia Garrett-Friend, to set the bar even higher for our shining star students. Together they landed on this new curriculum, which, among other things, offers online assessments in both English and Spanish for students, as well as online professional development for teachers.

Pictured: Lead Preschool Teacher Valencia Garrett-Friend disinfects toys ahead of the new school year.

The new curriculum will first focus on setting norms with students and getting them acclimated to the classroom. This curriculum focuses heavily on individualized learning and challenging students based on their individual strengths and weaknesses. Outside of the academic learning plans, the new curriculum prompts teachers to observe students during free play, record their findings, and approach students during play to pose questions and offer suggestions. These are things our educators have always done, but recording these observations in a more formalized manner will allow for students’ individual social-emotional and academic progress to be tracked more accurately throughout the year. The curriculum also offers more for our growing number of Spanish-speaking students: with vocab and signage in both English and Spanish, students have more language-building resources available to them. Here's to the new school year!

Your generosity allows for continued innovation like our new curriculum. Click here to support the MLK today.

YOU'RE INVITED: Investing in Rhode Island’s Future - 2nd Virtual Visioning Session with the MLK

Members of the community are invited to participate in the second of two important conversations, hosted by the MLK Community Center in coordination with the Rhode Island Foundation's Make It Happen: Investing for Rhode Island's Future initiative and the Local Voices Network (LVN). This collaborative visioning session will take place via Zoom next Friday, September 10th at 12 PM and will be facilitated by Executive Director Heather Hole Strout and Community Programs Coordinator Melanie Saunders. Friday's topic will center around the issue of housing.

Unable to participate in our last session? There's still time to make your voice heard. What we discuss together will inform the recommendations that the Foundation will make this fall to the General Assembly and the Governor regarding the potential allocation of $1 billion in new stimulus funding that the state is projected to receive from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The Local Voices Network (LVN) is a national project of Cortico that is focused on changing the way we talk and listen to each other, lifting up the voices of people not normally heard, and making the most of the power of human stories to connect and deepen understanding.

Audio from these small group conversations will be recorded and shared with the Foundation’s project team and the Make It Happen Steering Committee. That will allow for our discussion to inform the final recommendations the Committee makes to state leaders. Participants will also have access to the recordings via an online portal. The recordings will not be shared publicly. Excerpts or quotes from the conversations may be used publicly, but will not be attributed to conversation participants directly. Also, if you would like to participate but prefer not to use your name, you may choose a pseudonym prior to the conversation.

Our vision for this conversation is that it will bring together a diverse group of folks from across Newport County, with a range of perspectives and experiences. We hope you’ll consider lending your voice.

Please RSVP in advance. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Melanie via email or by phone at (401) 846-4828 x124.

This is your opportunity to make your voice heard! We look forward to dreaming big together and “seeing” you soon.


Thanks to the generosity of Mobile Food Pantry sponsors, the MLK's Mobile Food Pantry brings non-perishable food, fresh fruits & veggies, milk, meat, eggs, personal care and household cleaning items into Newport County communities where transportation is often a barrier. Tuesday, September 7th's Mobile Food Pantry at Oxbow Farms in Middletown (12 - 1:45 PM) is sponsored by KindWorks, a division of RightWorks Inc. KindWorks has generously agreed to sponsor one Mobile Food Pantry every month for a year – incredible generosity that will uplift thousands in our community. KindWorks, a division of RightWorks Inc., aims to improve the lives of vulnerable demographics through monetary donations, fundraising, and volunteering. RightWorks connects the right people to the right jobs by consistently delivering a superior staffing experience, for both their client partners and job seekers. For more information on RightWorks, visit:


You can make a difference for Newport County this fall: Make your 2021 run or walk across the Pell Bridge or for the Newport Marathon in support of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center! Register to run with us online, then create your MLK fundraising page. From there, share your personal fundraising page with friends and family so they can show their support for you, the Center, and contribute toward your personal fundraising goal. *This year, fundraising on the GoFundMe platform will only be supported until September 30th - but don’t worry, the Center will still receive all donations just the same. If anyone would like to support your run but would like to give directly to the Center, they’re welcome to donate via our PayPal - just be sure to select which race you’re participating in, and indicate which runner they’d like to support.

  • The Amica Newport Marathon & Half Marathon returns to Newport on Sunday, October 10th, 2021. Team MLK's page

  • The Citizens Pell Bridge Run returns to Newport on Sunday, October 17th, 2021. Team MLK's page

Questions? Feel free to contact Alyson Novick, Director of Development, via email.


The MLK Community Center will be closed this coming Monday, September 6th in observance of Labor Day. Please plan food pantry shops accordingly, and keep in mind: our Saturday food pantry is tomorrow! Otherwise, the Center will reopen for regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday, September 7th and on-site food pantry will be held again on Wednesday, September 8th. This Saturday, September 4th (tomorrow!), our food pantry is open from 10 AM to 12 PM. Anyone new to the Center should bring along photo ID, recent mail to illustrate household size, & reusable bags, if possible. The MLK's food pantry is open the first Saturday of every month from 10 - 12.

WE'RE HIRING: AFTER SCHOOL STAFF & MARKETING COORDINATOR Join our growing family here at the MLK! We are currently hiring for part-time After School staff and a full-time Marketing Coordinator. Visit our Indeed Careers page for more information and to apply!

More Information

FOOD PANTRY FEATURE:Adult Nutrition Drinks (Ensure / Boost)

The Center’s Mobile Food Pantry, Food 2 Friends pantry delivery program, and on-site food pantry serve folks who have a wide array of needs. For many folks who are food insecure, getting adequate nutrition is often a struggle, simply given a lack of access to nutritious food. If you add mobility issues or other health challenges on top of food insecurity, this nutrition deficit is even greater.

For this reason, nutritious adult meal replacements are always in extremely high-demand in our food pantries. Many of the folks we serve rely on Ensure and Boost as a staple in their diets: these beverages are convenient, vitamin-packed, dense in calories ....and tasty! It might seem like something small, but two of our Food 2 Friends volunteers can attest to the life-altering effect adult nutrition drinks can have on people’s lives. A Food 2 Friends client, Mr. E*, now lives with a relative out of state. Prior to his move, however, Mr. E* had a host of medical issues, including some that made it difficult to swallow and difficult to taste anything. As a result, he had become dangerously underweight. Adding adult meal replacement drinks to his diet through the MLK’s Food 2 Friends pantry delivery program drastically changed his medical outlook. After each drop-off visit, our volunteers would remark about how much weight Mr. E* was able to gain and how he continued to improve with each visit. Our staff and volunteers firmly believe the addition of adult supplemental nutrition drinks through the Food 2 Friends program ultimately allowed Mr. E* to be well enough to move in with his family, where he now happily resides. Throughout the month of September and beyond, we ask for contributions of adult supplemental nutrition drinks, like Ensure and Boost, for distribution in our food pantry programs. We can accept your donations at the Center's on-site loading dock Monday - Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Thank you! *Name changed to protect client privacy.

Support Newport County, Support the MLK

HERE TO HELP View all: Google Calendar / Facebook events Please note: The Center will be closed this coming Monday, September 6th in observance of Labor Day. Stay safe and enjoy the holiday weekend! Online registration is open: You can now register for Zumba, "Toning in '21," Yoga, Lunch & Learn, and Sabores Latinos online! With this system, you can conveniently register, reschedule, and cancel appointments at your convenience. We suggest you make an account for easy account management (after you sign up, it will prompt you). If you aren't able to register online, you are always able to contact Mel via email or by phone to register: (401) 846-4828. Facebook Groups: We've recently opened two private Facebook groups: one group for Parents & Families of MLK Students<