FUTURE FORUM #4: December 12, 2019

FUTURE FORUM #4 – a collaboration among a diverse group of caring corporate futurists and exceptional Rhode Island high school students looking to solve a chronic, societal problem while enjoying each other’s company topped off by some great food.   From left to right above, Sarah Cunningham (Rocky Hill Country Day), Nehemias Rojas (Hope High School), and Donghoon Ryu (LaSalle Academy) network during the day’s lunch.


Hope High School hosted its 4th annual FUTURE FORUM on Thursday, December 12th, 2019.

FUTURE FORUM 4’s topic of conversation was ‘public education’, specifically, Providence, Rhode Island, public education.

25 corporate ‘futurists’ from companies and institutions like DataRobot, Bank of America, Working Planet, Gilbane Construction Company, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Revival Brewery, Barclays Investment Bank, Alex & Ani, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Brown University and CVS Health joined students from Hope High School’s Life Skills program as well as students from Rocky Hill Country Day, LaSalle Academy, St Raphael’s Academy, and Juanita Sanchz High School at this year’s event.  Corporate futurists facilitated collaborations among small, diverse groups of students from the participating schools to create specific, near term improvements to the quality of education in the city’s public schools.

Arnell Milhouse, Inventor, CEO of Career Devs University, and Entrepreneur in Residence at Brown University’s Nelson Center and featured in the photo above on a hover board, was FUTURE FORUM #4’s keynote speaker

The FORUM’s keynote speaker was Arnell Milhouse,

Inventor, Co-Founder and CEO of Computer Science CareerDevs University, and Entrepreneur in Residence at Brown University’s Nelson Center.   Mr Millhouse began the FORUM leading a design thinking presentation that students used in their FORUM workshops to identify ways to address the critical needs of Providence students in the urban schools.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza opened the FORUM

sharing his inspirational personal story of challenges and success.

Mayor Jorge Elorza gave an opening address to start FUTURE FORUM #4

Providence Public Education has been an issue of concern in Rhode Island for decades” states Steve Cronin, the Hope Life Skills and FUTURE FORUM coordinator.  “The FORUM provided an interesting dynamic for Providence Public School students to collaborate with private school students, facilitated by successful professionals from a variety of industries, and create potential, measurable, near term improvements in their public education in Providence, Rhode Island.  It’s an opportunity for Providence’s public school customers, the students, and people in their personal networks, to create solutions to improve their public education.  It was very interesting  to hear what the customers, the students, had to say.

John Sinnott, a Vice President Gilbane Building Company, and noted graphic designer, Nick DeCesare, (Signature Printing Creative Director and Owner of Third Effect Marketing and Design) facilitate a collaboration among students from LaSalle Academy, Hope High, St Raphael Academy, and Juanita Sanchez High School to identify improvements to Hope High School education which could be implemented on January 1st, 2020

Owen Johnson (blue shirt), MIT computer science graduate and Chairman and CEO of Revival Brewery joins James Valles, Brown University Physicist (to Owen’s left) engaging his team of LaSalle, Rocky Hill, and Hope students in the workshop portion of the FORUM.  Other Forum workshop teams begin their collaborations in the background.

Beecher Fritzmeier, Alex and Ani Vice President, elicits a number of exciting ideas from her students addressing this year’s FORUM challenge, i.e. improving Providence public school education.

Terri Monjar, Senior Relationship Manager Bank of America Merrill Lynch, encourages her team to express any idea that comes to mind which could improve Providence Public School education. 

Hope High School’s Lydia Watkins (center) and Stephanie Sequeira as well as Chris Sanacore (Director of Innovation Providence Public Schools) are excited about the creative ideas percolating among the members of their team.

The FUTURE FORUM is annual event that is part of Hope High School’s ‘Hope Life Skills’ program (www.hopelifeskills.com).  Cronin, a community volunteer, started Hope Life Skills 16 year ago at Hope High.  The program introduces Hope Juniors and Seniors to a number of skills and behaviors for lifetime success.  “Personal brand development, networking, time management, critical thinking, collaboration, data collection, segmentation, and analysis, empathy, verbal and written communication skills, resume writing and job interviewing skills are all introduced during the Hope Life Skills program.  Multiple events during the school year, like the FUTURE FORUM, are opportunities for the students to practice these skills” said Cronin.   Cronin added all of his students have business cards and LinkedIn sites.

Meg Stowe (foreground), Director of Innovation at Rocky Hill Country Day School, collaborates with her team on changes for Providence Public Schools which could be deployed in early January of 2020 while Tyronne Ross (standing in the background) challenges his team on a financial literacy program which could draw a significant interest from the student body while preparing students for a post-high school success.

LaSalle Academy’s E.C. O’Hair shares her idea while Claudia Cardozo, President of Cardozo Coaching, and Hope High senior, David Narvaez, listen intently.

Hope High School’s Ambar Tavarez (far right) shares her idea with Hope High’s Arthur Bonga (immediately to Ambar’s right), Dr Dioscaris Garcia (Senior Research Scientist, Co-Director, The Diane N. Weiss Center for Orthopedic Trauma Research as well as other endeavors), Abby Tillinghast (Rocky Hill Country Day), and the other members of their team.

(from lower right in photo to left around the table) Kevin Torres (Hope), Jackson Lifrak (LaSalle), Katelyn Tavares (Hope), Sara Wong (LaSalle), Jarlene Carona (Hope), Soren Ryherd (President and Co-founder of Working Planet), Natalie Hogan (Chief Administrative Officer DataRobot), and Narine Lemme (Business Transformation Leader Harvard Pilgrim Health) ponder Sarah’s interesting idea for change.

Cronin began the FUTURE FORUM in 2016.   “I initially started the FORUM because of the significant impact technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI), was and continues to have on the very dynamic local and global marketplace which the Hope students would soon be competing in for career opportunities.  Since the Life Skills program has always been a community effort, friends and associates from area companies were quick to respond to a ‘future forum’ concept.  All realized the FUTURE FORUM would be the perfect venue, not only to inform students about AI and other 21st century technologies, but also for developing the basic life skills introduced in the Hope Life Skills program.

Nehemias Rojas (Hope) shares his “pre-club” idea with Owen Johnson, James Valles, and the rest of his team.

Hope High School’s Faith Souza (bottom left in photo) shares her idea with her team as Don Mays (Director AFRI Productions) records Faith’s suggestion.

Hope High’s Hector Guererro passionately shares his idea for change at Hope High School while Rocky Hill Country Day’s Sarah Cunningham listens intently to Hector’s idea.

Mariely Brito Leonardo (Hope High) shares her perspective that could hopefully transition into a potential option for improvement and change in Providence Public Schools while Christine Flanagan (President and Founder of Kinetic Seeds, far left in photo) and students weigh the impact of Mariely’s suggestion.  

Cronin added that including private school students with diverse interests and backgrounds at the FUTURE FORUM reinforced diversity’s value in a personal network.  “Network diversity educates, expand horizons, and builds empathy.  Diverse networks create opportunities for personal development”.

Hope High School’s Arthur Bonga (right in photo) offers his perspective on Providence public school education as Rocky Hill’s BJ Jenkins and Sarah Tillinghast as well as others in their group consider the ramifications.

Hope High’s Juan Severino adds his opinion to the collaboration while Rocky Hill’s Marlon Monterroso reflects on Juan’s thought.

Upon the completion of the workshop sessions, groups transitioned to enter their ideas into a FORUM WORKSHOP template. Brown University Physics Professor James Valles facilitates his team entries by holding the students’ prioritized suggestions.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Terri Monjar (far right) leads her team as Hope High’s Carla Pepin enters their findings into the FORUM template.

LaSalle Academy’s Marc Isabella (seated in gray sweatshirt) enter his team’s recommendations, held above by Josiah Diaz (Hope), into the computer while Penelope Simpson (LaSalle) and Sinead Burnett (Rocky Hill) look on.

From right to left, David Narvaez (Hope), EC O’Hair (LaSalle), and Abby Tillinghast (Rocky Hill) present their team’s recommendations to the FORUM audience following the team collaborations.

Millhouse announced to the FORUM attendees that a team of Brown University graduate students affiliated with Brown University’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship would be collecting and analyzing the data from the workshop groups then sharing the student recommendations with all FORUM attendees, Mayor Elorza, the superintendent of Providence Schools, and the press.

90 people attended this year’s FORUM within the friendly confines of the Hope High School library.


20 thoughts on “FUTURE FORUM #4: December 12, 2019

  1. Life Skills Community and Future Forum participants: Thank you for an outstanding day learning and co-creating with innovators and game-changers. I am referring to YOU! When authentic and passionate people come together to work on a meaningful challenge, the possibiliites are endless. I invite you to reach out to me if I can be of any assistance to you.

  2. The future forum was a great experience. I was able to interact and network with great individuals. I got the opportunity to network with students from Rocky Hill Country Day School and La Salle Academy. The food was great! Overall, Future Forum 4 was a great experience. I’m glad I was a part of it. Thank you, mr.Cronin, for this opportunity.

  3. The Future Forum was such an amazing experience. I was able to network with a diverse group of business men and women as well as students from private schools. We shared ideas, help and get to know others beyond just socializing. I would definitely attend next years Future Forum.

  4. The photos capture much more than I can say about how engaging, exciting and thought provoking this forum was. It underlined for me the power of sharing perspectives in problem solving. The creativity, passion, and group work skills displayed by the students were outstanding. I am also grateful for the warm hospitality of the Hope High staff and faculty and the life skills students.

    Arnell’s honey badger metaphor was igniting!

    Steve your vision, your students, your commitment. — inspiring.

  5. The best part of this future forum was the diversity among students and business futurists. I think this diversity should take place in the next future forum too. The different experiences each participant brought to this FUTURE FORUM contributed to the wide range of ideas created in the FORUM workshops that the Providence Public School Department could implement to improve public education in the city.

  6. One of the best experiences I’ve had so far. Participating in this years future forum was eye opening. Listening to other students perspective on how to change/ improve school was great. Would definitely consider to go again next year.

  7. One of the best experiences I’ve have had so far. Interacting with other students and understanding our Different perspectives on how to change/improve school was amazing. Would definitely consider to come again next year.

  8. Great discussion! I noticed how everyone was networking with different people. Too bad I wasn’t able to attend. I’m looking forward to attending next year

  9. This forum is amazing and unique. I feel fortunate to have been a part of it and to have been able to witness first-hand the enthusiasm and creativity of the students in our workshop group. Hats off (again!) to Steve Cronin for his tireless efforts in organizing a one–of-a-kind experience for all who attended.

  10. This was a really great and inspiring experience for me. I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend and look forward to future connections with the futurists. Thanks Mr. Cronin!

  11. Hope High School’s Future Forum is a rare opportunity for all of Mr. Cronin’s students. The privilege to be in a room with entrepreneurial minds is a chance for exposure. Students and adults were gathered together to discuss Providence school improvement ideas, and for the first time in a long time, we felt listened to. We were able to network with a multitude of people (students/adults) and had the assurance that our ideas would be taken seriously, and potentially implemented. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity Mr. Cronin has consistently offered his students for over 16 years. I plan to not only be part of his network, but to assist him with future projects.

  12. Though I was not present, I could imagine myself in the middle of all of this listening to students express their ideas and frustrations…hearing and watching all of the great solutions to improve upon the issue at hand come to fruition. I am sure that all of those who attended were blown away by the students from all of the schools that attended.

    Thank you to Mr. Cronin for his continued push to accelerate the thought process in these students to show them how good it feels to share their ideas, and promote their brand, along with how easy it is to network and grow.

  13. Really impressive to see leaders in the community investing in our future! A common theme throughout the article is about teaching the students the value of your network and building your brand….what better way to do this than with your peers and community leadership at an event like FUTURE FORUM. So cool, great job!

  14. sin duda una de las mejores experiencias que he tenido en este año escolar, para mi fue un evento bastante constructivo y estoy segura de que lo fue para muchas personas más.

    Without a doubt, one of the best experiences I have had this school year. For me, it was a very constructive event and I am sure it was for many more people.

    • Ambar- You are inspiring to this community. Continue to share your voice, express your ideas, connect with the people in this growing network. We are all here to support you. Thank you for an outstanding day. ~Meg Stowe

  15. So, so good!!! Still cant believe this is the 4th annual forum!! Wow!! Looks like such a successful event (the picture at the end of all those chairs awaiting attendees was pretty neat ;)) I can only imagine how much work went into planning and coordinating such a day. I really hope at some point I can attend ….. it really looks life changing.

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