Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Rhode Island

Racial and ethnic disparities is the gap that exists in outcomes for children of different racial and ethnic groups in Rhode Island. Disparities exist in economic well-being, health, safety and education outcomes.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Illustration

Rhode Island's children are diverse in racial and ethnic background. According to the 2010 Census, 72% of Rhode Island children under age 18 were White, 8% were Black, 3% were Asian, 1% were Native American, 9% of children were identified as “Some other race,” and 7% as “Two or more races.” In 2010, 21% of children living in Rhode Island were Hispanic (Hispanic children can be of any race). Young children in Rhode Island are more likely to be identified as People of Color than any other age group. In 2019 in Rhode Island, 46% of children under age five were People of Color, compared with 35% of adults ages 25 to 44 and 12% of people age 65 or over.

Black and Hispanic children are more likely than White and Asian children to live in neighborhoods that lack the resources needed for them to grow up healthy and successful. At the time of the 2010 Census, nearly three-quarters (67%) of Rhode Island’s minority children lived in one of the four core cities (those cities with the highest percentage of children living in poverty). In 2010, more than three-quarters of the children in Providence (84%) and Central Falls (87%) were of minority racial and ethnic backgrounds. Children living in areas of concentrated poverty, who are more likely to be Black or Hispanic, face challenges above and beyond the burdens of individual poverty.


Our Publications

  • Policy Brief: Root Causes of Overweight and Obesity: Community-Driven Solutions to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Rhode Island, June 2023
    The conditions and environments where children are born, live, learn, work, and play greatly impact their health outcomes. We must understand the root causes of disparities in children’s health outcomes and well-being and listen to the voices of the communities most impacted to create solutions that support the health of all children and youth. Over the past six months, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT partnered with trusted community organizations to gather input on the root causes of childhood overweight and obesity in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence. The community was clear on steps we must take, and the recommendations reflect the vision we see for a healthier future.
  • Issue Brief: Multilingual Learners in Rhode Island, February 2023
    During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 15,107 Multilingual Learner (MLL) students in Rhode Island, representing 11% of all students in grades Pre-K through 12. In Rhode Island, the number of MLL/EL students nearly doubled from the 2009-2010 to 2020-2021 school year. MLL students are best taught through an asset-based approach that supports their linguistic capabilities, celebrates the rich culture they bring to the classroom through materials that reflect their identities and experiences, and creates a culture where their multilingualism is viewed as a strength and educators expect success. This report provides an overview of educational outcomes for Rhode Island's MLL students, as well as promising practices and policies to best support their success.
  • Issue Brief: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children’s Health in Rhode Island - January 2023
    Pregnancy is the beginning of development for a child. Maternal health before, during, and after pregnancy impacts the overall health and well-being of a child in both the short and long-term. Currently, there is a maternal health crisis both nationally and in Rhode Island. Beyond that, there are unacceptable and persistent disparities in maternal, infant, and child health outcomes by race and ethnicity that disproportionally impact Black, Indigenous, People of Color women and children. Addressing these disparities will require a focus on the important connection between birthing parents and their babies and focus on the health and well-being of both individuals. Our publication clearly outlines where disparities exist, the root causes of these disparities, and the steps we need to take to address this legacy of inequity.
  • Issue Brief: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in K-16 Education in Rhode Island, January 2023 - The diversity of Rhode Island is an asset; however, there are wide, persistent, and unacceptable disparities in education by race and ethnicity. This Issue Brief outlines the root causes of racial and ethnic disparities in education, and incorporates Rhode Island data across educational indicators and outcomes. Policy and community solutions to address these persistent racial and ethnic disparities are presented. 
  • Issue Brief: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children's Economic Well-Being, December 2021
    This report includes disaggregated data by race and ethnicity on key indicators of child and family well-being including unemployment rates, family income, poverty, wealth, homeownership, and postsecondary education. The report suggests solutions and actions Rhode Island can take to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities and promote equitable, racially aware, and community-driven policies. Please see the full publication, the media release, and the release event recording. 

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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