ChangeFest comes to URI for first time

Program seeks hard working, ambitious students to make a difference

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I.- February 20, 2017- Thrive URI, a student-run organization that helps others create projects that make a positive difference, will hold its first ChangeFest Saturday, Feb. 25 on the Kingston campus. The organization promises a day of collaboration, problem solving and friendly competition.

The event, which is free and open to college students across the state, will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road.

Thrive at the University of Rhode Island describes itself as an idea accelerator that helps fellow students find their passion and connect with like-minded people to create projects that have an impact.

During the program, students will break into small groups made up of peers from Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, Bryant University, and more, during which they will discuss topics that are important to them and design a plan on how to act on the issue. At the end of the day, each small group will make a pitch and the groups with the best or most plausible solutions will earn funding to help make their concept a reality.

Also at this year’s ChangeFest, students will get to hear from Matthew Stinchcomb, a founding partner of Etsy, an online site that gives people the opportunity to buy and sell handcrafted goods.  He will give the keynote address from 11:05 to 11:30 a.m. and will discuss his pathway to entrepreneurship and provide insight into some of his own important projects.

URI President David M. Dooley will give opening remarks from 10:50 to 11 a.m. and Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity officer Naomi Thompson will offer closing remarks from 7:40 to 7:50 p.m.

Last year, the first ChangeFest was held at Brown University with the hope of bringing college students together from all across Rhode Island to solve societal problems. This year, the focus of the event is on campus issues such as diversity and inclusion, physical and mental health, sustainability, and much more.

“Being that this is the first time that we are holding ChangeFest at URI, I am hopeful that the event will attract a good mixture of students from our campus and other campuses around Rhode Island,” said Thrive URI President Elana Rivkin. “I hope to prove to students that they are capable of doing much more in one day than they may think.”

Students interested in attending the free event are encouraged to register ahead of time at

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.