URI Talent Development alumna creates nonprofit to provide workforce services for men of color

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

KINGSTON, R.I. — Nov. 16, 2018 — While studying psychology at the University of Rhode Island, Rhonda Price ’84 participated in the Talent Development program, learning skills that have enabled her to launch an organization that also empowers an underserved population.

Price, of Providence, R.I., studied psychology at URI and participated in Talent Development for five years. After working with state and federal courts for 20 years, she founded Man Up, Inc. in Providence to provide work and educational services to men of color.

Price is one of many Talent Development alumni who have gone on to success. The URI program serves Rhode Island high school graduates who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The majority of Talent Development scholars are students of color. From a class of 13 students when the program was founded in 1968, Talent Development has grown to more than 1,300 students and 1,600 graduates. This year, the program is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Price said the Talent Development program provided her with the education she needed for a successful career, as well as providing her with mentors such as Leo F. DiMaio Jr., the late, former director of the Talent Development program; and Sharon and Frank Forleo, who both served in the program for more than 40 years.

“I founded Man Up in 2011 through Leo DiMaio, who I was volunteering with at his college-readiness program,” said Price. “He gave me an office and the necessary tools to start the organization. When I showed him my strategic plan, he was the person who really pushed me to get started.”

Man Up is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide a broad range of workforce development and higher educational opportunities, resources and support services to men of color who have not had the opportunity to aspire to such goals. It also addresses the social, financial and legal issues that create barriers to employment and education.

Robert Bailey V ’83, of Providence, one of four case managers at Man Up, is also an alumnus of the Talent Development program. “The benefits of Talent Development are educational and academic, social, personal growth, and is a support system for students,” he said. “Students develop lifelong relationships as a result of participating in Talent Development.”

Bailey was a history major at URI, where he participated in the Talent Development program throughout his URI career. Bailey credits the Rev. Arthur Hardge, co-founder of the Talent Development program, Frank and Sharon Forleo and DiMaio, and mentor David Petty for his success.

Bailey’s career has been focused on mentoring children, youth, and families in his community and assisting them with the guidance and tools to improve their lives educationally and economically.

Bailey has worked in his family’s business, the Bailey Funeral Home; the Providence School Department; and Casey Family Services, the direct service arm of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Bailey is also a cancer survivor and an American Cancer Society volunteer.

Price compared the Talent Development program to the thoughts of author, historian and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois in his 1903 essay “The Talented Tenth.”

“Education and work are the levers to uplift a people,” Price quoted. “Work alone will not do it unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life.”

Alexa Stewart, intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and communication studies major, wrote this press release.