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For Immediate Release: April 24, 2014

Providence College Celebrates the Grand Opening of Common Grounds Café – A Collaboration between Providence College Students and the Smith Hill Community

Providence, R.I. – Providence College and a group of its students in partnership with the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation (CDC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony today for the official grand opening of the Common Grounds Café located at 233 Douglas Avenue, Providence, R.I.

“This is a terrific endeavor and a perfect example of how our students who study abroad are transformed by their experience,” said Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. “I am especially pleased at the collaboration between students from a variety of academic majors and the corresponding departments on campus. It’s a great story and a great project, and the College is proud to support it.”

The café, which had a soft opening for the past few weeks, grew out of an idea from PC students who went to Nicaragua for an Alternative Spring Break trip in 2012. The exploration focused on coffee growing and production; they visited a Fair Trade grower, and became interested in developing a longer-term project. Simultaneously, the College’s School of Business began sponsoring an Entrepreneurship Society, while the Feinstein Institute for Public Service and the Smith Hill CDC began convening an economic development incubator group as a project of the newly opened PC/Smith Hill Annex. These multiple interests coalesced as students, faculty and community came together to conceive and open the café.  

"This has not only been a great learning experience, but a wonderful opportunity to cultivate a relationship between the campus and the community, while bringing a unique small business to the neighborhood," said Amjad Talib '16. "It has been a pleasure to work with a variety of college and community leaders, and this aspect has especially offered invaluable lessons."

Michaela Bolotin '16 said, "We look forward to seeing Common Grounds Café develop into a community space and local spot among the Providence College students and Smith Hill residents."

The Common Grounds Café aims to integrate the PC campus with the Smith Hill community while serving ethically sourced goods and specializing in local products. Operated in partnership with the Smith Hill CDC, the café will employ PC students and community members. One of the primary goals is to effectively use its earnings to identify, organize and implement community improvements through programs and services, which foster economic development and support affordable housing. 

“Providence College has been a long-time supporter of the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation and the needs of this community," said Francis H. Smith, Executive Director of the Smith Hill CDC. "This is one more tangible demonstration of that commitment and how the students can impact positive change.” 


Chrissy Centazzo
Public Affairs, Community and Government Relations
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