OUR FOUNDING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Ms. Niko Merritt
Mother of 4
Community Activist & Organizer
Certified Community Health Worker
Salve Regina University Education Department Advisory Board Member
Owner of Melanin Sol Creations
Why I do what I do?:
This is an important time in our history, our current political climate, the increase in awareness and civic engagement combined with the overall feeling of wanting to do something to make things better- is all around us. It's time to come together to make changes. Pretending we still don't see won't get us there. Talking without action won't get us there. Let's unite as a community, let's have those difficult discussions and take it one step further- make changes to improve our situation for us and our children.
Favorite Quote: “I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you respect for the use of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity.” Mary McLeod Bethune
IN THE NEWS
MVY RADIO'S "PERSON OF THE WEEK" - NIKO MERRITT, FOUNDING ED OF SANKOFA COMMUNITY CONNECTION
March 1st, 2018
The Person of the Week for March 1st, 2018 - Niko Merritt, Founding ED of Sankofa Community Connection
Their mission is to cultivate leadership, through a community-led initiative which helps to increase education, health and economic equity that builds a thriving African American community in Newport County.
LOCAL ACTIVIST ORGANIZES A SCREENING OF 'BLACK PANTHER'
February 23, 2018
Niko Merritt of Newport started a GoFundMe page two weeks ago to raise money to fund a trip to Island Cinemas in Middletown for 50 children.
WADK OPEN FORUM RADIO INTERVIEW WITH FRANK PROSNITZ
February 14, 2018
"...There has been a nationwide fundraising challenge to raise money to bring thousands of young people to see the film. In Newport, Niko Merritt and the Sankofa Community Connection have embraced that effort and successfully raised enough funds to enable scores of Newport youth to see the film. Niko joined Frank on this edition of The Open Forum."
CHOSEN AS A TOP TEN GROUNDBREAKER BY NEWPORT LIFE MAGAZINE 2017- COMMUNITY LEADER
July 26, 2017
The article is attached below:
DAY OF RENEWAL FETES AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND DIVERSITY
June 19, 2017
NEWPORT — A celebration of African-American culture and diversity in Newport was held Saturday, the first event of its kind for the City-by-the-Sea.
Ernest Gibbons, a Middletown resident who was born and raised in Newport, said the Day of Renewal was unique in that it was held independently of any of the local events that commemorate Black History Month or celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
“Everything that advances the African-American culture and its contributions to this community — in people, jobs, talents — should be recognized and be a part of our culture,” Gibbons said. “The Irish do it, the Greeks are well established.”
DAY OF RENEWAL CELEBRATION IS FOR 'WHOLE COMMUNITY'
June 14, 2107
NEWPORT — Newport’s Day of Renewal will be a celebration of African-American culture and diversity, but the organizer says the event is all-inclusive.
“We need to bring the community together in a positive way. It’s not only for people of color, it’s for the whole community,” said Niko Merritt, founder and executive director of Sankofa Community Connection, a nonprofit organization with a goal of helping the African-American community in Newport thrive through educational initiatives and programs
‘THERE IS AN OVERALL CLOUD OF FEAR’
November 17, 2016
Merritt, who is the founder of the local advocacy group Sankofa Community Connection, said the meeting was just the beginning.
“It is not just the hate crime. It is about what brought us to this point and how we can stop it. We are working behind the scenes to get stuff done, and I want to invite others to come together,” she said.
RALLIES BREAK SILENCE
July 14, 2016
Stunned and angered by the deadly violence and escalating racial tensions sweeping across the country, Newport joined communities across the U.S., with rallies demanding accountability, justice and change.
2016 "WILD WOMEN" HONOREE- WOMEN'S RESOURCE CENTER
June 15, 2016
Niko also has extensive volunteer experience that includes being involved in her community as a certified diabetes lifestyle coach for the Health Equity Zone, chair of the Newport Prevention Coalition, and member of the local NAACP. She has taught beauty techniques to cancer patients for the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program, and helped bake cakes for families of critically ill children through Icing Smiles, Inc.