Grants Provide Culture and Agriculture at Paul Cuffee Lower School

Paul Cuffee students take in the pageantry of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker Suite, at Providence Performing Arts Center.

Paul Cuffee student, Chris Oseghale amends the soil with organic matter in a raised gardening bed built by second grade teacher, Rob Pike.

On a cold December morning Paul Cuffee Lower School students boarded buses destined for the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy for a special student showing of the Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Second grade teacher, Mark Fleisher negotiated half-price seats for the show and obtained two grants which covered half of the transportation costs. Rhode Island State Council for the Arts awarded Paul Cuffee School A Big Yellow Bus grant and Providence law firm, Abrams and Verri, generously subsidized the venture as well.

Third grade teachers, Sandy LeClerc, Jenn Bifulco, and Lauren Galoski applied for and were awarded a Spark Grant to pay for audio equipment to be used in the Third Grade Storytelling Unit. This grant is generously funded by John and Letitia Carter through the Rhode Island Foundation.

All second graders will be able to “raise crops” as they learn about sustainability, thanks to a Lowe’s grant obtained by second grade teacher and agriculturist, Rob Pike. Rob spent last February vacation building a raised gardening bed for his students who planted peas, kale, and a variety of lettuces in an early spring garden. Thanks to the Lowe’s grant, he’ll be able to build two more for the rest of the second grade classes.


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%