Joanne Grant

Joanne Grant

Joanne Grant, the daughter of a mixed-race mother and a white father, was born in Utica on 30th March 1930. She studied journalism at Syracuse University but, unable to find a job in her chosen field, initially worked in public relations.

Grant held left-wing political views and in 1957 travelled to the Soviet Union. Later she went to China defying a Cold War ban on travel to that country. She also became research assistant to William Du Bois, the co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.

Grant became active in the Civil Rights movement and took part in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) campaigns in the 1960s. It was during this period she met the lawyer Victor Rabinowitz. The couple were married in 1965.

In 1960s Grant worked for the left-wing New York weekly, National Guardian. This included reporting on the Jim Crow Laws, Freedom Riders, Freedom Schools, Freedom Summer, Selma March and the March on Washington. As John J. Simon has pointed out: "She was not just at mass demonstrations, she was there in isolated communities where black students, conducting voter registration drives, were often rewarded with bloody beatings. Grant visited small towns in rural Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia in the early 1960s, at a time when assaults, killings and lynchings were common. As a black reporter this took courage, but Grant faced those dangers, filed her dispatches, got herself arrested, and became a member of the most militant of the civil rights groups, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)."

Joanne Grant is the author of Black Protest: History, Documents, And Analysis 1619 To The Present (1968) and Confrontation On Campus (1969). An expert on Ella J. Baker, Grant made the successful documentary, Fundi: The Story Of Ella Baker in 1981. This was followed by a biography, Ella Baker: Freedom Bound (1998).

Joanne Grant died on 9th January, 2005.

Joanne Grant - History

A film by Joanne Grant
Narrated by Harry Belafonte

FUNDI: THE STORY OF ELLA BAKER reveals the instrumental role that Ella Baker, a friend and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., played in shaping the American civil rights movement. The dynamic activist was affectionately known as the Fundi, a Swahili word for a person who passes skills from one generation to another.

By looking at the 1960s from the perspective of Baker, the "godmother of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee," FUNDI adds an essential understanding of the U.S. civil rights movement.

This film is also available in a longer 63-minute version that is available on DVD as well as for educational streaming with Docuseek.

"FUNDI does exactly what Ella Baker does: it gives us the courage to act on our own—and to affect the future."—Gloria Steinem

"FUNDI, the powerful film account of Ella Baker's contributions, can enrich us immeasurably, adding depth and texture to our understanding of an important part of our past, inspiring us with examples of lives lived fully and purposefully." —Harvard Educational Review

"FUNDI fills a gap for those who know little of the history of the black struggle [and] is a compelling portrait of an extraordinary woman who has devoted her life to struggle and to the people who take part in it." —Harry Belafonte

"FUNDI restores Ella Baker, the 'godmother of the SNCC,' to her place in the history of the civil rights movement. Rrecisely and elegantly executed. there's no pomposity, no false reverence - at least none that Baker herself can't cut right through." —Pat Aufderheide, Ph.D.

48 minutes / Color
Release: 1981
Copyright: 1981

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Study guide available

The Intolerable Burden
One black family's commitment to a quality education, from the pre-1965 time of segregation, through desegregation, and through the recent period of resegregation. **Winner, John E. O'Connor Film Award, American Historical Association**

The Loving Story
Oscar-shortlist selection, this is the definitive account of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage.

I Am Somebody
Named to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress and preserved by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Madeline Anderson’s essential work brings viewers to the front lines of the fight for civil rights.

Joanne Woodward earns first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

On February 9, 1960, the official groundbreaking ceremony is held for the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first star to be dedicated on the historic walkway belonged to the actress Joanne Woodward, an Academy Award winner for The Three Faces of Eve (1957).

Woodward’s career began on Broadway, where she worked as an understudy to the female lead in the romantic drama Picnic in the early 1950s. It was during that production that she first met the actor Paul Newman their marriage would become one of the most envied and enduring in Hollywood. After heading west from New York, Woodward signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. Her role in that studio’s 1957 film The Three Faces of Eve, as a woman with multiple personality disorder, earned her an Oscar for Best Actress. Her romance with Newman intensified during the filming of The Long, Hot Summer (1958) and they were married in January 1958. Two years later, Woodward earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

After the official groundbreaking on the now-famous walk, construction continued for the next 16 months, and by the time it was over more than 1,500 actors, musicians and filmmakers had received stars. Today, the Walk of Fame lines both sides of Hollywood Boulevard from Gower to La Brea, and both sides of Vine Street, from Yucca to Sunset. Woodward’s star is located at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.


The text and images on these pages are under copyright by different repositories. Use without permission is an infringement of copyright.

The initial project brought faculty from the history department to collaborate with individuals in the UNLV library special collections department to produce the Nevada Women’s Archives. This collection of documents and photos provides manuscript resources for historians. After several years it became apparent that despite planning for collection diversity, additional measures were needed to achieve it.

The Las Vegas Women Oral History Project developed at a time (circa 1994) when a critical shortage of information on women’s lives existed and few oral history projects collected the narratives of women. The goal was to collect personal histories from women who were unlikely to leave manuscript resources, yet whose lives informed the wider narrative of Las Vegas’ development.

Initially a graduate student collaboration, it evolved into an extensive multi-focus collaboration between the History department and the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada. Faculty, graduate students, and community members all participated in collecting these narratives. The third project, which spanned four years, created three one-half hour televised programs called MAKERS: Women in Nevada History. A co-production of VegasPBS and the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, the shows brought the research out of the archives and into the living rooms of Nevadans throughout the state.

On this website, visitors may find the entire collection accessible for browsing, research, and teaching.

The text and images on these pages are under copyright and permission for use must be given by those institutions.

Ella Baker on the National Stage

From 1940 to 1946, Baker worked up the totem pole in the NAACP. She rose from a job as field secretary to national director of various branches. From 1943 to 1946, her role was to fundraise for the organization. She traveled all over the country, trying to convince people that they deserved a voice. Like her, many of the people she met had grandparents who were slaves, and they had trouble understanding what a nationwide organization could do to help them.

Baker decided she could best mobilize and inform the public through more local organization. She felt grassroots organization instead of national leadership within the NAACP could better benefit their constituency. Also, much as she had done while in University, Baker sought to fight bureaucracy within the NAACP.

She had a gift for listening and picking out leaders in the groups she met. At various workshops, Baker would train people on how to organize and lead grassroots groups of the NAACP.

New York Public Library Ella Baker, standing third from the right with a group of girls at a fair sponsored by the NAACP, early 1950s.

One person who attended Baker’s workshops in the 1940s was a woman named Rosa Parks. Like Baker, Parks adopted a philosophy of nonviolent protesting. It was Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. on Dec. 1, 1955, which sparked even more fervor among the Civil Rights Movement.

Baker resigned her post at the NAACP in 1946, but she still maintained her passion for advancing the Civil Rights Movement. Her contacts within the NAACP proved to be a valuable resource as the freedom movement garnered momentum.

Keep it Brief

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How befriending Mister Rogers’ widow allowed me to learn the true meaning of his legacy

Both 24, she just 11 days his senior, they were friends but not yet lovers. It was 1952 and they were in the midst of a long-distance courtship that began at Rollins College in Florida. She recalls being attracted to Fred, but they weren’t particularly physical with each other outside of the sorority and fraternity dances they attended together. Joanne — she dropped “Sara” early on, deeming it too stuffy — was raised in a Puritan home, and she was repulsed by her schoolmates who talked about “sucking face.” Any kissing she said she and Fred did was “pretty unpracticed.”

When Fred headed to New York after graduation for an apprenticeship at NBC — the first stop on his way to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” — she stayed in Florida to get her master’s degree in music. They kept in touch through the mail, though they weren’t very good writers, Joanne says. Fred told Joanne about his hopes for the future — about the kind of people he wanted the two of them to become. Even though she didn’t know him all that well by the time he proposed, that’s what she clung to — the idea that this was a man with a strong moral center.

She still has most of the letters from their early courtship. They’re tucked in a tote bag that hangs by her favorite chair, so she can grab one when she wants to feel close to him. In the 16 years since Fred’s 2003 death, they’re the only token of his that she’s kept for herself.

Joanne is one of the primary stewards of Fred’s legacy. At 91, she is the chair emerita of Fred Rogers Productions and the Honorary Chair of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media on the Saint Vincent College campus. Last year, the 50th anniversary of his seminal kids program, she participated in a PBS special about Fred, helped to promote a commemorative postage stamp with his face on it and was also part of Morgan Neville’s hit documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” She was also a key figure in the development of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Marielle Heller-directed film that was released over the weekend in which Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers.

“When Fred died, she wasn’t going to step in to be Mister Rogers, but she was going to step in,” said Bill Isler, who served as the president and CEO of Fred’s company for nearly three decades and is so close to the family that he named his two springer spaniels “Fred” and “Joanne.” “I think she is incredibly comfortable with it. They were married for over 50 years and raised two sons. Fred relied on Joanne. He would often say that if it wasn’t for Sara Joanne Byrd Rogers, the ‘Neighborhood’ probably would have never happened.”

A showcase for compelling storytelling
from the Los Angeles Times.

Yet when the filmmakers behind “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” approached Joanne to get her blessing on the project, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, who wrote the film with Noah Harpster, said, “She really only had one request: that we not treat her husband as a saint.”

She was keener on imparting to the writers just how funny Fred was. If the couple was out at an event that turned out to be bland, he had a go-to way of making her laugh: passing gas.

“He would just raise one cheek and he would look at me and smile,” she said, cracking herself up.

The movie tells the story of Fred’s relationship with Tom Junod, a journalist who was assigned to profile the television host for Esquire magazine in 1998. As a cynical investigative writer, Junod was initially hoping to uncover the dark side of the cheery public figure. But as Junod spent more time with him, Fred started to turn the questions on the writer himself, more interested in learning what made the journalist tick than revealing his own inner workings. In the years following the publication of the cover story, Fred and Junod kept in touch — migrating from written correspondence to email as he typed away on a lightweight laptop that Joanne had given him one Christmas.

It was over email that I developed my own relationship with Joanne. Our virtual pen pal communication began last summer, just after the release of Neville’s documentary. I’d done a brief phone interview with her, no more than 20 minutes. Less than a week later, a message popped up in my inbox. She’d tracked down my email address and sent a note to tell me that she’d enjoyed the story I had written.

I wrote back, and so our correspondence commenced. She called me by pet names: Dear, dearie, dearest, honeybun. Her notes — always bookended with the “Sent from my iPhone” tag — were animated with red and pink heart emojis. Sometimes, if we communicated via text message, she’d include her Memoji — a customizable avatar she’d created replete with her curly gray mop of hair, glasses and tooth gap.

She wrote about the weather, her health, her visits to see live music. When a new line of Mister Rogers sweaters came out, she told me she thought they sounded comfortable, but she didn’t want one: “I’m very warm-natured and sweaters make me too hot and itchy.”

Sometimes her emails would arrive in the middle of the night. Like me, Joanne was a night owl. She usually went to her bedroom around midnight, she said, “where I put on sleeping gear and then read until I begin to yawn seriously.” She often dozed off around 2:30 a.m., she said, making sure her friends never phoned her before 10 a.m.

“That is an almost 91-year-old’s kind of sleep schedule, I think,” she wrote last February, “though most of my peers seem to be morning people … hmmm.”

That winter, she wrote to me saying she hoped to meet me in L.A. — “your neighborhood,” as she called it — where she was planning to fly if “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was nominated for an Academy Award. When the documentary was snubbed she sent an update, noting the news was “disappointing and surprising,” but that “we just need to concentrate on the doc’s created mission — Fred’s legacy — and be grateful that can continue well beyond [the Oscars].”

Fred Rogers was anything but a glutton his Thanksgiving shows were about hunger not just bounty, and he refused “to eat anything that had a mother.”

But there was still “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The November premiere was planned for Fred’s native Pittsburgh, where much of Heller’s film was shot. I finally had a reason to meet Joanne.

“Be on the watch as you come from the airport to look at the city when you come out of the tunnel!!” she advised in her last message to me before my plane departed for Pennsylvania. “Spectacular even if it should be raining!!”

I had been told by many how integral Fred’s legacy was to the city. Stores at the airport sell T-shirts and baby onesies with his face on them, and a 7,000-pound, 11-foot bronze statue of him sitting and tying his sneakers rests next to the Allegheny River. During a film shoot last year, Tom Hanks told me, locals were quick to impart how important Fred was to the area — in other words: Don’t screw this up.

“One day I was taking the elevator in the hotel and a guy got on and said, ‘Mr. Hanks, how is filming going? Are you enjoying your time here in Pittsburgh?’” the actor said. “I said, ‘Very much, and I must say, Pittsburgh is a great city.’ He said, ‘Thank you, I have to agree.’ And then before I got off at my floor, he said to me, ‘You know, we take Mister Rogers very seriously in Pittsburgh.’ I said, ‘I am aware of that.’ That was not a fan saying ‘Oh, my gosh’ or anything like that. The entire town knew we were there filming a movie about Mister Rogers. I think we got a proper amount of props from the people of the city — as well as some expectations.”

Joanne lives in an apartment building at the edge of the 456-acre Schenley Park, filled with a canopy of trees, an ice skating rink and botanical gardens. It’s the same apartment she moved into with Fred 38 years ago — after raising their kids in a nearby Squirrel Hill home — and she has lived there alone since he died.

A doorman took me up in the elevator to her residence, and seconds after knocking Joanne swung the heavy wooden door open.

“I’ve been looking forward to this so much!” she said, throwing her arms around me. “Let’s sit down and chat.”

Reminders of Fred abounded: magazine covers bearing his image, framed and faded family photographs, and so many awards that she couldn’t remember what they were all for.

She showed few signs of her age, save for her hearing aids. She exercises regularly with a personal trainer and drives a Lexus around town. Until a couple of years ago, she insisted on making an annual 15-hour pilgrimage to Florida on her own, preferring to drive alone because it allowed her to concentrate on the road.

“She’s understanding of the fact that she is 91 — she doesn’t drive at night or drive to Florida anymore,” said Isler, who had come to Joanne’s apartment to greet me. “But we go on road trips, and she’s great in a car — a lot of fun. Most of Joanne’s friends are younger than she is — not that she doesn’t have friends her own age. I have not noticed her slow down.”

Settling into the living room couch, I noticed Joanne’s gold jewelry — a chain bracelet that once belonged to her mother and two bands still tucked around her ring finger. One ring, designed in the pattern of a castle battlement, had been given to her by Fred in honor of Queen Sara — the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” character he’d named after her. The other, her second wedding ring, was one he’d given her many years into their marriage because she’d found the first “big, fat” diamond too “dressy.”

She gave me another hug and told me how much she loved hugging.

“I’m a hugger,” she explained. “I felt so badly for [Joe] Biden when they were going at him about hugging. I said, ‘My gosh, I hug everybody.’ I know lots of men who hug people. He’s an old man. He’s a hugger from way back.”

Joanne still doesn’t know whom she’s going to vote for in 2020 but says she’s more political now than she’s ever been.

“Trump changed it,” she said. “And I want to vote for whoever is going to beat Trump.”

When Fred was alive, she said she felt an obligation to keep her political leanings private. He was a registered Republican. Yet “he was very independent in the way he voted,” Joanne said, “but he just didn’t talk about it because he didn’t want to lose the children.” Being impartial was important to Fred, an ordained Presbyterian minister who never talked about religion on his program even though he viewed it as his ministry.

Though Joanne was a respected professional concert duo-pianist, her husband, of course, was the one whom everyone recognized out in Pittsburgh. She never resented him for his fame, she said, focusing instead on her piano and staying out of his work at PBS. But since his death, she’s felt an obligation to continue spreading his message because of how important she feels it is.

For the recent movie, Joanne spent time with many in the production, even giving Hanks some of Fred’s old ties to wear. She had a chair on the set but didn’t use it much because she found the endless takes “dullsville.” She was also one of five to vet the screenplay, though she said she didn’t make many changes. In one scene — in which she is played by Maryann Plunkett — a line of dialogue initially had her calling someone “buster,” and she objected to that.

“Something about ‘Watch out, buster!’ And I’ve never in my life said ‘buster’ to anybody,” she said with a laugh. Her only other note? She thought Plunkett’s wig was bad.

Something that didn’t make it into the film? The fact that Fred reveled in her dirty jokes. “He was not prissy. Not at all,” she said. “He ran around the house in the droopiest drawers. They were at least three sizes too big, but they were comfortable, and he liked them. It didn’t matter if there was company here — he’d wear those and a T-shirt. He was not a modest person.”

She got up to show me around the house, making note of a painting of the couple’s “Crooked House” on Nantucket and a “143" yellow production sign from the Hanks film. She kept her MacBook Air at a desk in the kitchen, where she wrote most of her emails.

“It keeps me in touch,” she said. “I can’t follow everything that’s going on. The movie stars all look alike to me now. I can remember their names — Aniston and this one and that one. I still haven’t figured out what it is that Kardashian does. What I’ve enjoyed most is Lady Gaga and what she’s done with her talent. How she can do anything she wants by just being crazy, funny-looking in outfits, you know? I think that is really smart.”

It was almost time for Joanne’s own Hollywood moment, so I left her to prepare for the evening’s premiere. Later, when we met up at the SouthSide Works Cinema, she had changed into a floral top and was carrying a gold Coach bag a friend had sent her specifically for movie-related events. As a Sony publicist tried to bring her toward the red carpet, she was besieged by guests wanting to greet her: her personal trainer, the local film commissioner and former Steelers running back Franco Harris. Nearly every reporter asked to pose for a photograph with her after their interview. Pam Surano, with CBS Pittsburgh’s KDKA News, started crying as Joanne walked away.

“I remember doing my live shot during the Tree of Life tragedy, and then someone pointed out that I was standing right in front of Fred’s old church,” a teary Surano told me, referring to the Sixth Presbyterian Church he attended a few blocks from the synagogue where 11 were killed during the deadliest mass shooting against Jews in the U.S. “There was something about that moment — needing him in that moment — that was so overwhelming and beautiful. Mrs. Rogers is right — he’s with everyone here all the time. It’s the truth. We carry him with us.”

As Joanne entered the auditorium, the audience rose to its feet to give her a standing ovation. She sat through the screening — her third time seeing it — next to one of her sons, Jim, who had yet to see the movie. A row behind them, I watched as Jim wiped away tears throughout the movie.

“Spot on,” he said as the credits rolled. “I don’t know how Tom did it.”

Before she became too overwhelmed by well-wishers — even Mayor Bill Peduto crouched down next to Joanne’s movie seat — her Sony escort returned to bring her to a waiting car. I followed behind, not ready to say goodbye.

More on Mr. and Mrs. Rogers

“I love you,” she said, as we hugged again. “Bless your heart.”

On the flight home, I became oddly emotional thinking about Fred and Joanne — about how much they’d affected so many simply by expressing genuine care and kindness toward their neighbors. As she told the moviemakers, Fred wasn’t a saint. Since his death, she feels as if he’s been placed on an even higher pedestal. And she doesn’t like it.

“He’s out there now as somebody who’s somehow way above all the rest of us,” she said. “People invariably say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, but I sure do admire him. I would love to do it.’ Well, you can do it. I’m convinced there are lots of Fred Rogerses out there.”

Inside the business of entertainment

The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Senior entertainment writer Amy Kaufman covers film, celebrity and pop culture at the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure.”

We will be open on our REGULAR SCHEDULE starting on Tuesday July 6th & Thursday July 8th


• Mystic Bank Account Books
• Primary source materials from Eva Butlers collection
• Early local records of 17th and 18th century commercial stores and industries


• Individual local family photo collections
• 1895 through 1917 negatives and prints
• Many local old home and business images


• Mrs. Butler’s hand drawn home sites of New London County before 1800
• Many locally oriented maps from all eras
• John Fanning’s farm on Fort Hill


Extensive Primary Source Material on Local Tribes
Data on family life, food, clothing, shelter, trade
Arrowheads, stone tools, pottery, baskets, bead work


• Many published genealogy volumes
• Probate notebook records
• Family genealogies and coats of arms


• Civil War Letters – Family Letters
• Colonial Records – Winthrop Papers
• Pequot War – King Phillips War


• Books, Pamphlets, Newsletters, Newspaper Clippings
• Diaries, Scrapbooks, Articles, Magazines, Letters


Latest News @ I C R C

WELCOME TO 2 0 2 1

I C R C is now OPEN on Saturday
from 10 am until 3 pm – and will
resume our regular schedule on
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 to 4
starting in July

Thank You for renewing your
membership again as we depend
on your continued support

Are you interested in becoming
a VOLUNTEER ? Click Here


Former board member who played a large role in the reconstruction and renovation of I C R C after the flood of 2010

ALLEN POLHEMUS 1934 – 2020

We Honor the memory of one of our longtime members VIRGIL HUNTLEY
a local historian who recently passed away at the age of 101 and we thank
him for remembering us in his will

* * * BREAKING NEWS * * *

Our newest gallery exhibit features
the Pines, which originated here in Mystic over 150 years ago and features many century old advertisements

After many, many decades – the four
masted schooner RUTH has returned
to her original home port of Old Mystic Conn and is available for inspection at
The Indian and Colonial Research Center

This vessel is now on display in our
gallery, come check it out and see why Charles Q Eldredge called his estate RIVERVIEW

Can you help identify the location
of a massive glacial boulder ?
See the photos on our Gallery page
and get an research update

We have recently upgraded our five
computer stations with reconditioned
equipment that is ten times faster than
the ten plus year old antiquated processors that we have been limping by with for far to long – THANKS to the local Woman’s Club for their very generous contribution towards this much welcomed improvement

Our home, the 1856 Mystic Bank building is now officially recorded with both the National & State Register of Historic Places & thanks to a grant from The William Pomeroy Foundation, we now have a new historical marker out front to make it official

The COMBINATION to the inner vault
door was re-determined after it was taken apart and cleaned

We recently reacquired the original
accountants stand up, slant top desk from the banks early days, which had
remained in the protective custody of the Schoonover family for several
generations – Thanks so much

No more dim corners – we have installed
modern L E D track lights in the rooms of the old building so bring your sunglasses

November 1888 Election
Impassioned Yawps – Chewing Gum and
Parades just too lovely for Anything !
See our GALLERY page for arousing
details and a few good laughs

We are always seeking to expand our collections, gain new members and we welcome any donations and new volunteers.
Please come and visit us soon to explore the rich history that awaits within our
archives – you will be amazed and
delighted what you might find here . . . .

Eskimos – Yes, we even have those ! !

Founders 1965

Eva Butler & family
Mary Virginia Goodman
Carol Kimball
Harry Nelson
- also -
John Bucklyn
Ken Medbury
Joe Rattigan
James Spellman

Board of Directors

George Crouse
Tobias Glaza
Paul Grant-Costa
Cora Grunwald
Richard Guidebeck
Sharon Maynard
Robert Mohr
Christopher Rose

Adella Backus
Donald Chapman
Joanne Fontanella
George Hamell
Jack & Jane Pillar
Allen Polhemus

The Autism Project has evolved significantly since 1997, but our core identity remains the same: we are a collaboration of parents, professionals, and community members dedicated to providing high-quality and accessible support, training, and programming for children, their families, and the professionals who work with them.

Though we focus on children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), we've also learned over the years that many of the supports and strategies that work well for children with ASD can be beneficial for all. Today, The Autism Project offers services and programs for children with ASD, developmental delays and disabilities, and social-emotional challenges, and their families and communities.

Early Years: The RI Autism Project, Inc.

The RI Autism Project, Inc. (our original name) started with a group of special educators, therapists, and parents of children with ASDs, who came together over a shared concern about the lack of resources and programming available to children with ASDs in Rhode Island.

In response to this concern, in early 1997, The Autism Society of Rhode Island formed an ad hoc committee of parents, therapists, administrators, autism specialists, union representatives, and members of the medical and Early Intervention communities. The result was a request for funding through the Rhode Island Department of Education's Office of Special Needs.

For three years, the Rhode Island Department of Education awarded a grant to the RI Autism Project through a fiscal agent, East Greenwich Public Schools. As the Project gained momentum, it quickly became clear that a single source of funding would be inadequate to meet growing needs. The Autism Project incorporated in 2000 and began looking for alternative sources of funding to support its work.

Becoming TAP

Funding through the Rhode Island Department of Education ended in September 2001. Recognizing the importance of providing a statewide coordinator for autism, TAP’s only full-time paid employee became a state employee under the Rhode Island Technical Assistance Program (RITAP) at Rhode Island College.

Executive Director Joanne Quinn was hired in 2002 to grow the business into an independent non-profit organization. The Autism Project continued to offer training and support to school districts and education to professionals and parents through a variety of mediums, including demonstration classrooms, consultation, a parent training series and a National Speaker Conference.

In the last seventeen years, The Autism Project has expanded to offer multiple levels of parent and professional training, social skills groups for all abilities, consultation and coaching for educators in public schools and community organizations, a summer camp, peer navigation and support, and advocacy. Today our programming supports all children in their development of emotional regulation, problem-solving, executive function skills, resiliency and self-worth.

The strategies and supports that benefit a child with an ASD can benefit all children.

Now & In the Future

Thanks to grants from HRSA and SAMHSA, The Autism Project has also expanded services in recent years to include support, training, and peer navigation for children with developmental delays or diagnosed disabilities and their families. TAP's master-level coaches added work to support professionals and families in their development of their own social-emotional learning that will benefit all children, especially those with communication, regulation, and other social-emotional challenges in addition to ASD.

TAP is always striving to expand our ability to provide accessible programming in the past several years, we have created online training offerings, staffed Family Support Specialists to work with families in communities in Rhode Island's core cities, forged new partnerships with family-focused organizations, and hired three staff members who are fluent in at least one other language.

Our social skills programming remains the largest and most consistent in the state and we provide a safe, therapeutic space for children, teens, young adults and their families to come and learn, connect, practice and feel supported.

As we continue to evolve, The Autism Project will retain our collaborative, education-based approach as our services and programming continue to evolve. Priorities for coming years include exploring services and programming for adults with ASDs and further increasing our capacity to serve families and professionals, especially medical professionals, in medically underserved communities in our state.

Interested in learning more about our mission or partnering with us?

Reach out to Executive Director, Joanne Quinn, to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Teapot Dome (1921-1923)

What happened: President Warren G. Harding’s Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall secretly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in Liberty Bonds in exchange for leasing former Navy oil reserves in Wyoming known as Teapot Dome to a private company. He became the first Cabinet secretary to go to prison because of his actions on the job.

Nominated by: Presidential historians Douglas Brinkley, author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race, and Robert Dallek, author of Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, who both selected this moment, independent of one another

Why it was so scandalous: “The entire administration crumbled in his first term, right out of the gate,” says Brinkley. “It infected his entire close friend group and Harding became synonymous with cronyism and corruption. Scrutiny into Harding’s personal life led to the discovery that he had a mistress. [The scandal] puts so much pressure on President Harding that he died in office of a heart attack.”

“People in the government were selling the administration to the highest bidder, using their government power to exploit bad positions to make a lot of money,” says Dallek. “They weren&rsquot interested in the national interest they were interested in their self-interest.”

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