LIVE: Rhode Island’s Emerging Leaders: Richard Norris

Saturday, August 19, 2017

 

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Norris Smith

United Way of Rhode Island and GoLocalProv have teamed up identifying some of the emerging leaders in Rhode Island.

Richard Norris is a Providence Public School guidance counselor at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School and the vice president of 300 Men, a local men’s group whose aim is to provide mentorship for young boys of color within the city. 

Norris has been an advocate for youth development and works tirelessly to provide opportunities for the advancement of young people.

 A native of Liberia, Norris came to the United States in 1999 to escape a civil war. Prior to coming to the United States, he lived in a refugee camp in Ghana for about three years. 

Who has been your most important mentor and why?

My most important mentors have been my parents because they have modeled hard-work, honesty, and relentless pursuit of their goals.

As an emerging leader, what have you learned from success and failure?

Success is a broad term, but however you define it, it takes true dedication to achieving it. Failure is humbling and can provide clarity in moving forward. You can’t really succeed or do better without having to fall flat on your face sometimes.

How are you helping to make Rhode Island better?

I work with a men’s group called 300 Men, that Wole Akinbi, a former GoLocal LIVE guest, also works with.

Our goal is to intervene in the lives of young men and their families to provide opportunities for them to prosper. For example, we have three boys’ leadership groups in Providence public school at West Broadway Middle School, Gilbert Stuart Middle School, and Dr. Jorge Alvarez Middle School.

We work with our young men on soft skills, provide college visits, after-school programming with a focus on financial literacy, Saturday School for extra academic support, leadership building programs, as well providing opportunities for employment.

Personally, I have been able to hire some of our guys to help with various odd jobs that I may get involved with. So far this summer, I have been able to pay our young men up to $1,000 for their work.

What is one thing you feel everyone can do to help move our state forward?

Contribute to the education of our youth. For instance, provide internships, day shadowing, go to schools to speak to students, become a one-on-one mentor for a student, or financially contribute to programs that empower youth in a way that actually prepares them to be able to compete in the local and global economy.

What inspires you in your day-to-day life and work?

I am inspired to do better because I feel it is part of my obligation to leave my community better than it was left to me.

I came from a war torn nation in Liberia and was granted an opportunity here to change my life, and I plan on being someone who has the ability to open doors for others, especially young men of color, so they may do better with their lives.

 

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