Check out some highlights of our work over the last couple years!

Stop building for us but build WITH US


September, 2019

We have so much to share with you. While we want to highlight the success of our summer programs, we believe that we need to share ARISE’s actions and organizing in response to the state takeover of the Providence Schools.

As the state moves to take over the Providence schools, it is essential that the state formally centers the voices of students and parents who are in this system. A state takeover offers one potential avenue to address the huge, systemic shortcomings of the Providence schools: but this will only work if the state listens to, responds to, and amplifies the voices of students and parents.

To that end, ARISE -- along with our partners at the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Youth in Action (YIA), the Providence Student Union (PSU), and many students and parents -- filed a motion to intervene today with the RI Department of Education (RIDE) asking for an updated plan. A plan to be informed by the community, a plan that is clear, a plan that is transparent and accountable and to be shared with the public before it is implemented.

In the words of our Youth Organizer Nancy Xiong and recent Classical High School graduate, "We are asking that you stop building for us but build WITH US."

Represented by the Rhode Island Center for Justice, we are asking the Commissioner of Education, Angélica Infante-Green, to ensure that there is a formal role for parents and students to help inform, to preview and weigh in on the plan for improving the city’s schools, the leaders who will implement it, and the goals, progress and criteria for assessing impact. You can find a link to the press release here.

We are only asking RIDE to put in action what they have publicly stated about “needing and valuing” the input of parents and students. The Commissioner’s 122 page proposed draft to reconstitute the schools does not reflect this.

In this challenging moment, we are asking for you to please amplify the work of our young people by sharing this message using the links below as we work to make sure that this takeover is done in true partnership with parents and students. You can also donate to support ARISE’s work, including our advocacy and organizing during this time. If you are interested in learning more about ARISE’s recent work, you can also see this recent highlight in the news.

We are committed to educational justice by centering those most impacted. We will continue working and fighting as this process unfolds.

ARISE Summer Programs and more!

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June, 2019

THANK YOU to everyone who attended and supported "Discovering our Hidden Narratives: Strengthening our Roots," ARISE's annual visibility event in May. It was an amazing night to highlight the work of ARISE Youth -- you can find a full recap below. We also want to CONGRATULATE our seniors who have graduated from high school!

We also wanted to highlight our Ethnic Studies program and remind people about our upcoming summer programs. We still have spaces available, so please forward this to anyone who may be interested.

Visibility Event

ARISE Youth Leaders showcased the culmination of our year long research project on the educational experiences of Southeast Asians in Rhode Island. They courageously shared their personal experiences with ARISE, highlighting their holistic growth and passionately spoke about their foundational work on the Counselors Not Cops Campaign.

We also honored our VALUE award recipients:
ACCESS: Tina Meetran
EQUITY: Jennifer Wood
SUCCESS: Providence Student Union

If you weren’t able to make it and still want to support, please consider making a donation here.

Summer Programs

We still have space in our summer programs-- please find the registration information here. All programs are free, with food and transportation provided! Can you share this information with people you know who may be interested?

This summer we are offering:

Hidden Lotus Circle: 7/15/19-7/26/19 (M-F) 10:00am-2:30pm, RWU Providence Campus
Honoring Our History and the Warriors Who Came Before Us: 7/29/19-8/02/19 (M-F) 9:30am - 3:30pm, RWU Providence Campus
College Access: 8/12/19-8/16/19 (M-F) 10:00am-1:00pm, RWU Providence Campus

If you have any questions, please email Rosey at

Ethnic Studies

This year, we were excited to offer our ethnic studies class at Alvarez High School, Classical High School and Woonsocket High School. This course included an introduction to the concepts of power, privilege, and oppression; lessons on the war in Southeast Asia; and current social issues the Southeast Asian community is facing. We concluded with students identifying and reflecting on how power, privilege, and oppression play out in the social context of the Southeast Asian community and in their personal lives. We saw immense learning, reflection, growth, and power in our youth participants: we look forward to continuing to offer this course.

Board Shoutouts!

Sarath Suong, ARISE’s founding board co-chair, recently represented ARISE at the annual AMOR Grill Off fundraiser and was named the Grill Off champion! AMOR (The Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance) is “an alliance of community based grassroots organizations mobilizing and organizing rapid response to resist increased instances of individual and state sponsored violence.”

Todd Flaherty, ARISE’s founding board co-chair and a life-long educator was recently named the Interim President of Johnson & Wales, Charlotte, North Carolina Campus. He is continuing to serve with passion and commitment for educational justice.

John Murphy, founding board member at large and a life-long humanitarian, received an honorary doctorate degree from Providence College this past May

ARISE Shares Learnings and Best Practices Across the Country

Pictured below: ARISE presented at the Asians Advancing Justice Conference in Atlanta, Georgia (Left) and the New England Secondary School Consortium in Norwood, Massachusetts (Right) in March, 2019


ARISE receives Next Generation Movement Award from DARE! 

Pictured below: ARISE Youth Leaders accepting the award from DARE in January, 2019.


Panels talk Southeast Asian representation in academia

Daniel Goldberg, Brown Daily Herald, November 11, 2018

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Our history is very traumatizing . . . and it gets passed on to the youth.
— Brian Aun, ARISE Youth Organizer

The day-long symposium was “the first major event regarding Southeast Asian Studies at Brown,” according to a written statement by Co-Presidents of the Southeast Asian Studies Initiative Taing Nandi Aung ’19 and Andrew Ton ’20. SEASI organized the event with the Brown University Singaporean Society, Vietnamese Students Association and Filipino Alliance. The event had been in the works since June and has garnered sponsorship from numerous centers within the University.

The symposium convened students and faculty to discuss the current state of Southeast Asian representation within academia and the community at large, the need for coursework dedicated to Southeast Asia and how such a program could be implemented at Brown.

SEASI wanted to “connect students … who want to study Southeast Asia, but don’t have the resources here at Brown to people in the area who are knowledgeable,” Aung told The Herald. Professors, doctoral candidates and student and community activists all spoke during several panels covering a wide range of topics, including issues in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and the Philippines, as well as the United States’ current relationship to its own Southeast Asian population.

To access the full article, follow this link.


R.I. Women in Action: Chanda Womack brings to light the struggles of Southeast Asian refugees

Patricia Andreu, Providence Journal, September 20, 2018

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Last year Womack, 38, founded ARISE (Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education) and through her organization, helped launch a pilot course in ethnic studies at Jorge Alvarez High School. The course focuses on the history of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Hmong people. Part of the coursework last spring was to have her 27 students (only five of whom were of Southeast Asian descent) interview “elders,” such as Heng, about their childhood experiences.

“This course is equipping our students to be researchers and historians,” Womack explains. “And, actually teaching them about the Vietnam War and the impact in those Southeast Asian countries that resulted in the resettlement of the largest refugee community in the United States.”

To access the full article, follow this link.


Thank you for a wonderful celebration!

May 9, 2018

Knowledge should not be a simple tool to use in one area of our lives. Rather, it should be used to be aware of our community, and find our own lens to create a future for ourselves.
— Symone Burrell, 2018 ARISE Scholarship Recipient

On May 9th, youth, advocates, educators, and supporters gathered to celebrate ARISE’s impactful first year. “Elevating & Amplifying Student Voice,” showcased the power of our youth, who shared their stories with the audience, as well as planned and emceed the event.

During the evening (and over a delicious dinner from The Lotus Garden), a variety of stakeholders discussed the importance of programs such as ARISE that center and highlight youth voice while building power, social consciousness, revolutionary thinking, and leadership. 

We provided scholarships to 5 different seniors in high school as a way to support their next steps into their future. Our students who received these scholarships are passionate about education as a means for justice in our community. They were each awarded $500 in recognition of the work they are doing in our community and the impact we know they are going to have in the years to come.

We also honored three community advocates for their tireless advocacy and passion for educational justice: Makna Men received the ACCESS VALUE award, Dr. Phitsamay Uy received the EQUITY VALUE, and Jamie Scurry received the SUCCESS VALUE award. All three award recipients embody these core values of ARISE.

Since our organization’s launch a year ago, ARISE has grown substantially, thriving in culturally responsive programming and supports. As highlighted at the event, our work centers the voices of youth throughout our programs, including after-school programming at three Providence high schools. ARISE is organizing an educational justice campaign in partnership with PrYSM and piloting an ethnic studies course at Alvarez High School; we have also implemented a youth leadership council, passed the “All Students Count Act,” and built capacity to support more youth.

We are thankful to the 21 sponsors for their support at this year’s event, including: Roger Williams University, the Nellie Mae Foundation, PrYSM, DARE, Superior Wireless, College Unbound, The Center for Justice, Luxurious Lash, NEA-RI, Capri Seafood, Real Estate with Chanthaly, SEARAC, Rhode Island College, the city of Providence, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, First Home Mortgage, Pawtucket Credit Union, Bank of America, Bank Newport, Cox, and The Lotus Garden.


RWU School of Continuing Studies Dean receives award from Alliance of RI Southeast Asians for Education

Roger Williams University News, May 11, 2018


Jamie E. Scurry, dean of the School of Continuing Studies at Roger Williams University, received the Success Value Award from the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education on May 9.

ARISE prepares, promotes and empowers Rhode Island’s Southeast Asian students for educational and career success. Its core values are access, equity and success. In presenting its 2018 ARISE Values Awards, the alliance also gave Makna Men the Access Value Award, and it gave Phitsamay Uy the Equity Value Award.

The Success Value Award recognizes a person committed to working toward getting all students to realize their full potential and to gain skills and core competencies that are important to their holistic development as critical thinkers and doers.

To access the full article, follow this link.


Mission-driven leadership requires stewardship as well

Chanda Womack, Providence Business News, January 12, 2018

What I have come to understand about nonprofit work is that we do not “own” resources. We must recognize, as nonprofit leaders, the organization only exists to address a need, ultimately meaning the assets and resources acquired belong to the organization’s mission. We only serve as stewards.

In turn, this realization necessitates that we operate in alignment and authenticity to our mission.
— Chanda Womack, Executive Director of ARISE

To access the full article, follow this link.

ARISE presents at College Board's National Forum

October 26, 2017


On Thursday, October 26, ARISE had the honor and privilege of presenting alongside other local and national community leaders at the College Board National Forum on the topic of debunking the Model Minority Myth.  The room was energetic and engaged, and the panelists provided attendees with information that helped them to identify the aspects of the stereotype of the Model Minority Myth, learn more about the current national and local advocacy and policy infrastructure, and understand the emerging systemic and strategic comprehensive supports and interventions needed for Southeast Asian students.  Panelists included Sarath Suong, Executive Director of Providence Youth Student Movement in Rhode Island, Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center in Washington, DC, and Chanda Womack, Executive Director of ARISE.  The session was moderated by Ducha Hang, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Salve Regina University. 

It was great to share stories of our SEA students with both post-secondary and higher education staff and administrators! We hope that our session not only provided a new perspective on the different lived experiences of individuals within the 50 different Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups but that it also provided participants with a framework of how local and national organizations can come together to create policy change that meets the needs of our diverse student population. 


Chanda Womack awarded the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award

October 26, 2017


The NAACP Providence Branch announced Executive Director of ARISE, Chanda Womack, as the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award for her advocacy work.  The Thurgood Marshall award is given to individuals who advocate, promote and facilitate the economic, cultural, and social benefits of the people of color in their inclusion in American society. We are extremely proud of Chanda!

YWCA honors Chanda Womack at the 13th Annual Women of Achievement Awards 

Chanda Womack, She Shines, November 14, 2017

At age 37, I have come to understand that the “American Dream” never existed for a family of refugees and education alone will not level the playing field. My parents’ true desire was not for me to become a prominent doctor or lawyer but to have a fulfilling life with unlimited access and opportunity. I am a descendent of WARRIORS, warriors who escaped mass annihilation. Resiliency is embedded in my DNA, to honor them I will continue to fight for social justice.
— Chanda Womack, Executive Director of ARISE

To access the full article, follow this link.

ARISE participates in SEARAC’s “Moving Mountains Equity Summit"

October 2017


Executive Director of ARISE, Chanda Womack, represented ARISE at the Southeast Asian Resource and Action Center’s first annual "Moving Mountains Equity Summit" in October.  Womack spoke at a plenary that convened key leaders of the successful individuals Asian American and Pacific Islander data disaggregation campaign in California, Rhode Island, and Washington. The speakers discussed the history of data disaggregation campaign in their state/region and shared information about their campaigns, challenges, lessons learned, and the fight moving forward with summit participants.


Our community is making history!

June 2017


ARISE is so thrilled to announce the appointments of two of our supporters and trailblazers, Pu Vilai Or and Jonathan Mendelsohn.  Both have been appointed to serve as Principals in the Providence School District.  Pu Vilai Or is the first Southeast Asian to serve as a Principal in the Providence School District, and Johnathan Mendelsohn is the first Korean Principal.  We want to extend our congratulations to them!


Rhode Island House Passes Act That Would Expose Asian-American Achievement Gap

Kimberly Yam, Huffington Post, June 29, 2017


“The high percentage of undiagnosed PTSD in our community results in intergenerational trauma for our students,” Womack explained. “Southeast Asian students also experience intergenerational conflict, as their acculturation is not guided by their parents.”

Rhode Island’s act would call on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to break down demographic data on a variety of stats, including educational proficiencies, graduation rates, attendance rates and access to educational resources. Womack said this would enable lawmakers, along with fellow Rhode Island residents, to get a better sense of what the Southeast Asian community’s true needs are.

To access the full article, follow this link.