Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island was born out of the union of two extraordinary organizations: Dorcas Place and the International Institute of Rhode Island. Throughout the past century, we have worked to empower the most vulnerable among us through wraparound programs and services helping those in need overcome educational, cultural, economic, and language barriers.
Edith Terry Bremer leads a national movement inspiring the creation of the International Institute of Rhode Island to help immigrants resettling in the United States.
First organized by the Providence YWCA for immigrant women, the International Institute of Rhode Island becomes an organization providing casework & support to hundreds of immigrant women & their families, helping them to build a community in the Ocean State.
With WWII bolstering the US economy, the needs of immigrants shifts toward becoming U.S. citizens. The International Institute shifts gears too--to help them, while also serving those with family seeking to flee Europe.
Armenian actress Nelly Ayvasian and her family leave Italy for Rhode Island--26 years later she becomes the International Institute's Executive Director.
The International Institute--now serving people of nearly 60 nationalities—provides translation of the new Medicare regulations free of charge to the state of Rhode Island.
The end of the Vietnam War brings thousands of Cambodian, Vietnamese & Laotion refugees to the U.S. per the government's promise to resettle all who supported American troops. Within a few year's time, Rhode Island is home to 2,200 southeast Asian refugees.
Dorcas Place Adult & Family Learning Center (named after the biblical Dorcas, a charitable person who made things, especially clothing for those in need), is founded by Sister Mary Reilly, RSM, and Deborah Thompson in S. Providence. Their vision recognizing the direct link between illiteracy & problems of long-term welfare dependency, poverty, teenage pregnancy, child abuse, crime, & chronic unemployment transformed lives.
Project Persona, under the leadership of Bill Shuey, expands to teaching Survival English and more to over 600 students of 25 nationalities (on an average day). Providing complementary services, Project Persona becomes part of the International Institute with Bill Shuey named as Director of the organization.
International Institute moves into 645 Elmwood Avenue, now one of two buildings owned by Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. The second, located at 220 Elmwood Avenue houses our refugee resettlement team, adult education classes and offices as well as Children's Friend early learning center where our students' children can safely play while their parents learn.
The International Charter School, a public charter school, is founded to meet the dual-language educational needs of children.
The Career Academy at Dorcas Place is launched to provide both on-the-job training & academics in order to help students find meaningful and gainful employment.
Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island is born of the union of International Institute of Rhode Island and Dorcas Place.
A resolute proponent of equity, opportunity and social justice, Kathy Cloutier brings decades of leadership experience and expertise to her new role as Executive Director of Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island.
An evolving organization, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island experiences significant growth & expansion. This year, 4,600 people were served--the largest number ever!
Dorcas International Institute of RI celebrates 100 years of service to the Rhode Island community!
Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island strives to create a welcoming environment for all, working to empower the most vulnerable among us for the past 100 years. We meet our clients where they are by providing wraparound programs and services helping those seeking to overcome educational, cultural, economic, and language barriers. Dorcas International offers adult education, language learning, job training, citizenship and immigration services, refugee resettlement, clothing and household needs, and more.
All proceeds from these events provide funding for our programs and services.