The KAARI, a non-profit 501c-3 organization, was founded in 1975 by a small group of Korean Immigrants. As of the 2010 US Census, there are 2,138 Koreans in RI. Despite the small number, the Korean-American community has been very active. Members consist of first and second-generation Koreans, Korean adoptees, business owners, international students, etc.
KAARI conducts various public activities and events to fulfill our mission. Examples include:
Memorial Day & Veteran's Day- Commemoration ceremony with the Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA) of Rhode Island
July 4, Bristol Parade- KAARI members march together with KWVA to honor their services during the Korean War (actively until 2017)
August 15, Korea Day- Celebration festival for Korean Independence featuring traditional performances and traditional Korean food
Rhode Island Heritage Festival-Annual celebration of all ethnic associations, featuring a flag march, dances and singing, and food
Annual KAARI meeting and Year-end party
Among our regular calendar of events, our organization has also worked to advance other projects. There have been two recent notable achievements. In 2016, Governor Gina Raimondo resurrected the 1979 resolution declaring August 15 as 'Korea Day' in Rhode Island and encouraged all RI residents to recognize the importance of the Korean Day. This gubernatorial proclamation values KAARI's contribution to the rich diversity of RI. The State of Rhode Island adopted a similar resolution in 2017 and 2020. Second, in 2017 we established the Culture Center at the heart of the City of Cranston. This was a culmination of the association's long-standing desire to own its identity since it began fundraising in 1981.
Supported by a collaboration between Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), and Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH), the Rhode Island
Expansion Arts Program (RIEAP) offers funding and organizational assistance to community-based, culturally diverse arts, and cultural organizations.
We need to recognize the shift in demographics in RI's community from traditional immigration to a new younger group of 2nd generation, college students, and families of Korean adoptees. Due to Korea's elevated economic and cultural stature globally, there's a tremendous public interest in learning Korean culture (e.g., traditional arts, dramas, K-pop, etc.). We recently received a $30,000 grant from RIEAP. This three-year grant (2019-2021) helps us offer more scaled and organized cultural programs suitable for all interested communities, including the second generation of Korean-Americans. Also, we received a one-year RISCA-intercultural seed grant. With this support, we teamed up with the local Latino Theater 'Teatro ECAS' to create a joint Korean-Latino collaboration that involves a meaningful fusion of Korean, calligraphy, dance, and K-Pop with ECAS theatric performers.