University of Rhode Island, Human Development and Family Studies
2006 – 2010
Relevant Courses: Human Development and Family Studies; Lifespan Development; Introduction to Work with Children; Adolescent Development.
Note: URI/CCE Downtown Providence was where Kobi discovered Human Development and Family Services as a profession. Kobi took every requirement and was truly enjoying being a slightly older college student. His earlier college attempts were strictly to satisfy the expectations of his family and societal norms. Kobi’s introductory years at C.C.R.I. in Providence, RI / Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH., never fulfilled his true educational goals or passion. Kobi’s educational experiences have allowed him to grow as a leader and community advocate. His passion for helping others grew along with his time spent in the classroom away from the community and his family as well.
During the Summer of 2010 Kobi decided to withdraw from college and pursue his dreams of becoming a “Community Leader”. The harsh reality of not obtaining a college degree and causing further financial strain to his family all became secondary but the sacrifice had to be made. Kobi focused on creating his own legacy of community advocacy through helping and caring for others full time without compensation. To date, Kobi has completed enough course hours to be a rising senior at any university. Unselfishly, he chose to allow his wife to pursue and complete her college degree and his son that will soon complete his education at URI. Kobi is extremely educated and has completed several trainings and course work. Over the years he has actively allowed his actions to speak louder than the words on any paper.
Rhode Island College, Elementary Education
09/1998 – 06/2000
Relevant Courses: Early Childhood Education and Social Work; Educational Psychology; Introduction to Childhood Development
Note: Immediately after returning to Providence, RI in 1993 Kobi decided he wanted to see more as a civilian. Kobi traveled independently for 3-4 years trying to find his place in the world. After (4) years in the United States Navy living on the water, traveling the 7 seas and visiting numerous countries he could only dream of visiting, Kobi began realizing “He was the change he wanted so desperately to see in the world.
Leadership and Service
Princes to Kings
Kobi Dennis is the founder and active member of an urban non-profit collaborative created in South Providence. The goal of the Unified Solutions initiative; to provide technical assistance, capacity building and coaching support for grassroots leaders to lead and developing their respective programs, organizations, events, and initiatives. All efforts are community led and driven to empower community members to become leaders of change in their community.
Programs of Unified Solutions include:
- Healthy eating programs
- Minority breastfeeding programs
- Youth theater company
- Project Night Vision/ teen youth
- Project Night Vision XL/ young adults
- Young women’s empowerment groups
- Youth entrepreneurship programs
- Teen Connect media group
- Music instruction programs
Unified Solutions is responsible for beginning the important community conversations between law enforcement and neighborhood citizens statewide. The program was initiated with a collaboration with the Salvation Army in Providence. After (1) year of improving the quality of life for thousands of RI residents, the program began a new partnership with Roger Williams University. The Unified Solutions main headquarters is based at the RWU Providence Campus.
Kobi Dennis re-introduced a youth summit originated in Syracuse, NY by Dr. Taino Palermo, Roger Williams University Professor/Director. Kobi Dennis and the members of the Dream Team Affiliates Community Consulting Firm created a Rhode Island variation of this amazing youth summit. In collaboration with; The Salvation Army of Providence, Rhode Island Department of Health – Office of Minority Health, The Rhode Island Foundation, Providence Public Library and R.I.D.E., the inaugural minority-focused youth summit took place during April school vacation at Times 2 Academy. Over 350 youth attended and participated in class sessions instructed by professionals from a wide range of growing employment fields. Class session titles included; “From the Hood to College”, “How to be a Police Officer”, “Engineering at Reebok”, “How to become a Doctor” and more. The goal of the youth summit is to provide youth leadership, career development and education opportunities for urban youth. The initial conference attracted over 350 youth over the course of two days. Since 2015 the team has hosted (5) youth conferences to date with the help of hundreds of community volunteers, sponsors, and donors.
ALL ACCESS RI / State Police and Community Development Partnership
This program was introduced and led by Kobi Dennis and RI State Police (retired Col) Steven G. O’Donnell. The program has successfully completed the planning stage by conducting several small group meetings with community members, healthcare providers, barbers, and beauticians. The primary goal of the “All Access RI” program is to provide comprehensive informational locations throughout the inner-city with a primary focus on Health Care (health disparities in minority communities), Law enforcement (focus on recruitment of minorities and increased relationships) and Higher Education (pathways to successful educational opportunities). This unique collaboration between Healthcare providers, Law enforcement, and Higher Education came together through the support of (3) Local barbershops and (3) local hair salons.
The barbershops and salons will serve as “Educational Hubs” for the inner-city community. The program will rotate viable information each quarter within all (6) locations. The information will coincide with the selected subject matter. The subject matter will change each quarter with detailed life-saving, life-changing information about the selected highlighted subjects. (Healthcare, Law enforcement, and Higher education).
“Building Bridges” Street Dedication / Community Forums
2010 – Present
Kobi Dennis initiated the street renaming for (2) community legends; Roosevelt “Bells” Benton & William “Billy” Jones. These men were pillars in the community and deserved the proper tribute that was eventually given to them by the community soon after their passing. Both events were driven by concerned citizens of South Side and West End of Providence, where both Bells and Billy completed most of their work in the community. Roosevelt “Bells” Benton also has a State training school building named after him and William “Billy” Jones was honored with a local basketball court named after him. Throughout our city/state, there are several dedications and tributes to those who have made selfless contributions to the people in their communities. These initiative stems from the lack of street names and parks being named in honor of men and women of color over the past 20 years.
Kobi Dennis initiated Community listening forums and meetings to educate law enforcement and community members on the importance of working together. Over the past (7) years community and law enforcement have experienced several incidents involving disdain, disrespect, miscommunication, and abuse on both sides. The community and law enforcement were both looking for answers to these ongoing issues and problems. The community forums were held and hosted at local recreation centers, churches, and community organizations. Hundreds of concerned citizens and law enforcement personnel from state/local agencies took part in these extremely in-depth, uncomfortable but needed conversations between both sides. Over 20 forums and conversations were successfully moderated by Kobi Dennis.
Kobi Dennis was invited to speak at TEDx Providence in front of hundreds of local community members and family. The presentation’s focus was on “Filling the Gap” in life and in service. This was a natural fit for Kobi as he has been “Filling the Gap” in his community, city and statewide for decades. The crowd was extremely receptive to his powerful presentation and in-depth personal dialogue about his family, career and most importantly his love for helping people. The video can be viewed on YouTube: TedxProvidence, Unified Solutions.
TEDx Providence and TED encourage intelligent public debate around each presentation. TEDx Providence and TED place a great emphasis on reaching local to global audiences.
Rhode Island’s Midnight Basketball League
Kobi Dennis revived the City of Providence’s midnight basketball league to increase relations with community members across the city and state. Over (25) teams were signed up to play basketball at (4) locations in the city of Providence and (5) additional locations statewide: South County, North Providence, East Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket. Over 5,000 people from across the state enjoyed the athletic night entertainment and fun. The Unified Solutions RI community group was responsible for raising and leveraging over $60,000.00 for the basketball league each summer. Financial and in-kind support was provided by:
- the City of Providence
- Roger Williams University
- The Salvation Army
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence
- McDonald’s Corp
- National Guard
- Vistar Corp
- Providence Sky Chiefs
- Hall of Grafx
- RI State Police
Kobi Dennis introduced and created, a Unified Solutions community led clean-up initiative in partnership with the current Mayor and the Department of Public Works. Kobi introduced “Clean Conversations” to the acting city leadership to create a healthy dialogue with everyday citizens in all neighborhoods city-wide. For 4 days out of the week throughout the summer months, community leaders, community youth groups, local Politicians and city workers helped to clean the streets while engaging in great dialogue with community members along the way. “Clean Conversations” concerning city environmental hazards, habits and issues were discussed while walking together removing litter from city streets. Urban involvement and goals for better trash removal. Additional discussions included; ideas and suggestions concerning recycling, how the community could actively assist with improving air quality and trash accumulation in the city of Providence.
Providence Public School Department, Extended Learning Classes (E.L.S)
Kobi Dennis designed and implemented middle level school enrichment courses for the Providence public school system. The task of creating a course study that could be introduced at the Middle School level (grades 6-8) for re-direction of wayward and trouble students. The courses derived from Kobi’s extensive training with Cornell University case studies involving adolescent conflict resolution and adjustment strategies (Dayton, Ohio 2004). The program curriculum included Youth Professional guest speakers from the inner-city community being served, daily lessons on responsibility, civic participation and social and emotional skill control. Each week teachers and administrators from the school would assign students deemed unruly or uncooperative in accordance to PPSD rules and regulations. Each student would report to the (E.L.S.) location within the school on Saturday’s from 9:00am – 12:00pm. The program also included community service at the school for each student involved.
Project: Night Vision
Kobi Dennis proudly created this comprehensive evening youth program and directed it for (5) consecutive years. The original idea and program name stemmed from his United States military service. During Kobi’s time served in the United States Navy he would often be assigned to “Night Vision Watch” the Persian Gulf. During this duty during the Gulf War, he could see at night what others were unable to see in the waters and over the horizon. When Kobi returned from active duty he would go out at night in the city of Providence and once again, he felt he could see what was truly happening at night that others could not see. Kobi was extremely displeased with the lack of youth services that were being provided for inner-city residents, especially at night! Unlike during war time, he was back on United States soil and not only were the problems of his community being seen, they were also being ignored. Instead of standing by watching the demise of the youth in his community, he created
Project: Night Vision “A safe place for teens at night”.
Kobi was assisted by RISP (Ret. Col.) Brendan Doherty and Principal, RI Training School April Seppala and dozens of family, friends and community members throughout the program duration. The program consisted of 100% volunteers, no employees were compensated throughout the duration of the program. The PNV program ran for (5) consecutive years, Tuesday through Friday from 5:30pm – 9:00pm weekly. Activities and programs included: basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, swimming, homework assistance, field trips, guest speakers, food, fun, and family.
The youths were treated with respect and dignity and returned the behavior with gratitude daily. The Project: Night Vision program served over 5,500 youth throughout the state and membership was free to all. The program’s success spawned into the city of Woonsocket and plans for Central Falls and Pawtucket, RI were very close to coming to fruition before the program’s ending stages in 2015. The program operated with 95% donations and community support (5% grant support).
Project: Night Vision XL was a new program started from the interest of older youth ages 18yrs – 24yrs in the surrounding communities. The program survived a few summers but due to a decrease in volunteers and donations, Project: Night Vision XL was defunct immediately after its 2nd full session.
Both renditions of Project: Night Vision were co-operated by Law enforcement (local and state) authorities were an intricate part of the program’s success. The PNV program was featured on local and national news stations and featured in numerous publications.
Skills and Training
- Adventure Based Learning Instructor / Brattleboro, VT
- Conflict Resolution Trainer / Randallstown, MD
- Anti-Bulling Facilitator / Warwick, RI
- Youth Rights Facilitator / Providence, RI
- Rhode Island State Policy, Citizen Academy / Scituate, RI
- Licensed Barber Military / Civilian / Meridian, MS
- Registered Child / Youth Care Professional / Xenia, OH.
- Cornell University Residential Child Care Project / Dayton, OH.
- Defensive Driving Course/ Riverside, OH
- OSHA Certification / Dayton, OH. Randallstown, MD, North Providence, RI.
- Diversity Training / Providence, RI. Xenia, OH.
- Therapeutic Crisis Intervention / Dayton, OH.