Community and Co-Curricular Engagement

Active engagement with our surrounding communities is central to RISD’s mission to educate the public about art and design and contribute to a diverse, globally aware society.

“Art is always we, never me.” Emory Douglas, at RISD January 2017

Holistic Community Engagement Strategy

The Director of Community Relations is working with partners across the Institution to craft a comprehensive strategy for community engagement in conjunction with ongoing equity, inclusion and diversity initiatives at RISD.

This effort involves collaboration by the following:
  • Interim Provost
  • Associate Provost for Research | Global | Practice
  • The Center for Student Involvement
  • Continuing Education
  • Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design
  • Project Open Door
  • Museum Education
  • Partnered Projects
  • Career Center

Community Engagement Survey

The Director of Community Relations, in conjunction with the Vice President of Integrated Planning, is designing a survey instrument to assess the impact of community engagement across the institution and identify areas for continued growth and improvement. Survey results will be used to inform the strategic framework for RISD’s engagement activities, partnerships and goals.

RISD Community Service Programming

MLK Day of Service
The Center for Student Involvement planned and executed the MLK Day of Service during which RISD students, faculty and staff volunteered their time and talent to provide children at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School with the opportunity to engage with a variety of arts-and crafts activities.

Pre-Orientation Service Experience (POSE)
Student leaders welcomed new RISD students to Providence by engaging in community service projects with them through the Southside Cultural Center, Providence Children's Museum, Resources in Human Development Rhode Island, Blackstone Conservation Project, Artists' Exchange, AS220, Southside Community Land Trust and more.

Leadership and Community Engagement Program (LACE)
Students work on a semester-long project that tackles issues of social justice alongside community partners such as:

  • Artists’ Exchange
  • Southside Cultural Community Center
  • Southside Community Land Trust
  • International House of Rhode Island
  • Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island
  • Mt. Hope Learning Center
  • DownCity Design

RISD Leads
This leadership program highlights community partners who are doing excellent work with underrepresented communities through a free lecture series. A free meal is also offered at each RISD Leads lecture.

RISDiversity Programming


As a celebration of diverse identities throughout the college and museum, the award-winning RISDiversity programming has proven especially effective in both community-building and fundraising. Our landmark 2016 publication, RISDiversity: Community Narratives, and the accompanying series of web stories have given voice to many individuals in our community to express who they are.

Now in its sixth year, the RISDiversity: Community Narratives Project will focus on telling the stories of members of our community who are Abled Differently. The project will explore the lives, work and spirit of people experiencing physical, emotional, mental and chronic health disabilities.

Museum Community Programming

The Museum has adopted a holistic approach toward aligning our work toward social equity and inclusion, including significantly shifting acquisition priorities to ensure that the collection reflects global, racial, and gender diversity; developing new guidelines for exhibitions and programs that place an emphasis on diversity and inclusion; and creating new opportunities to develop a pipeline for greater professional diversity among museum curators and educators, including the Nancy Prophet Fellowship. This work is also reflected in a broadened marketing approach and in how, where, and to whom the Museum builds awareness of the increased opportunities for participation in our programs.

Welcome Citizen Program

The Museum announced a program to welcome newly naturalized U.S. citizens living in RI with a free one-year membership. New citizens can sign up at the visitor services desk by showing a copy of their naturalization certificate.

Art of Race

The Art of Race is a joint program, designed by the Center for Reconciliation with the help of RISD Museum staff, that explores slavery, the slave trade, racial identity and reconciliation through the Museum’s extensive collection of art and design and serves as a catalyst for conversations about race. This series uses objects and artifacts from the museum’s collection to provoke deeper thinking and dialogue around the development and perpetuation of our nation’s racial ideologies and the legacy of slavery. Each month we explore the collection of a different department of the museum.