News and Analysis

Catholic College Funded Gender Ideology Organizations

Catholic money should never be “leveraged” to support organizations that promote sex changes to children or have sexual conversations with kindergartners.
"Providence College coeducational, Roman Catholic university located about two miles west of downtown Providence, Rhode Island, United StatesMore Providence Images"
DenisTangneyJr. Getty Images.

Providence College, a Catholic university in Rhode Island, donated thousands of dollars in grant awards to several nonprofit organizations that openly promote gender ideology to children. Two organizations — Youth Pride RI and Young Voices — directly solicit LGBTQIA+ or gender and sexuality programs to children. Another grant recipient, Rhode Island Kids Count, testified in support of bills teaching gender identity to students and supported the Rhode Island Department of Education’s guidance on transgender school policies keeping secrets from parents. Lifespan, a current Community Partner with Providence College, provides “gender and sexual health services” to children.

The most egregious error in religious discernment is found in the $10,000 grant award to Youth Pride RI in 2021, the same year Youth Pride RI launched a program titled “Little Unicorns” for adults to talk to children ages 5 to 9 about gender and sexuality on weekly Zoom sessions without parents. Youth Pride RI also consults with RI public school gender and sexuality (GSA) clubs, organizes a multi-state GSA conference, and backed a bill making Rhode Island a sanctuary state for “gender-affirming care” and abortion. Youth Pride RI’s support for transgender and abortion sanctuary state status came after the Providence College Partnership was established.

How did a Catholic college in the most Catholic state in America fail to vet such an anti-Catholic organization as a grant recipient? Its name alone should have acted as Catholic repellant to any Catholic institution vigilant of the two things that nearly broke the Catholic church in 2002 — kids (“Youth”) and sexuality (“Pride”).

Youth Pride RI is “the only nonprofit in Rhode Island specifically dedicated to meet the needs of LGBTQIA+ Youth 25 and under.” It received $165,000 in government grants in 2019.

The $10,000 Providence College grant was awarded by the Making A Difference Board (MAD) consisting of students in a philanthropy class taught by Dr. Rick Battistoni. Dr Battistoni is a professor of Political Science and of Public and Community Service Studies, as well as the Director of the Feinstein Institute for Public Service. He has been at Providence College since 1994.

In a separate 2017 interview, Dr. Battistoni explained that his students learn to be “engaged in the issues and the root causes that create the need for philanthropy in the first place,” because philanthropy is “more than just writing a check.”

The students act as a philanthropy foundation board deciding which local RI nonprofits should receive Providence College grants. Organizations donated $50,000 for the class to distribute in grants this year. Each student writes a research advocacy paper to decide “the most pressing injustice … that needs philanthropic support in Rhode Island.”

MAD decided that an organization promoting gender ideology to children and soliciting sexuality conversations with kindergartners was the best recipient for a grant from a Catholic college. In the past, MAD has decided that certain organizations were “not appropriate” as grant recipients. Apparently, organizations promoting gender ideology — which was deemed incontrovertibly antithetical to the Catholic faith even by the liberal Pope Francis because it would “‘destroy at its roots’ God’s most basic plan for human beings” — do not fall squarely into the category of “not appropriate.”

Perhaps this lapse in judgment had something to do with Dr. Battistoni’s affinity for Youth Pride RI since he donated to it as an individual in 2014.

Students invite organizations to apply for the grant with a request for proposals and visit finalists on-site. It is hard to believe Dr. Battistoni and his MAD students were unaware that Youth Pride RI furthered goals antithetical to Catholic teachings given Dr. Battistoni’s stringent research standards and his own familiarity with the organization.

Dr. Battistoni stated in 2017, “Students learn that philanthropy can be leveraged to create greater change in a community.” Catholic money should never be “leveraged” to support organizations that promote sex changes to children or have sexual conversations with kindergartners.

Compare Providence College’s transgression to The Catholic University of America, which fired a professor for inviting an abortion doula to a required lecture. That was one class. This is $10,000 of Catholic money supporting anti-Catholic schemes. Also compare this to the Rhode Island priest removed from active ministry after allegations that he talked to adolescents about their sexual orientations. Catholic institutions should not fund or otherwise support organizations engaging in the same sexualized interactions with children it prohibits from priests after the massive sex abuse scandal of 2002.

Another organization, RI Kids Count, received $20,000 from Dr. Battistoni’s MAD board in January 2024. RI Kids Count is “a children’s research and policy advocacy organization that works to improve the health, economic well-being, safety, and development of Rhode Island’s children,” and recently declared that it “stands firmly in support of trans youth” at a “Speak Up For Trans Youth” event on October 18, 2023. This event was meant to demonize my earlier event educating parents about gender ideology in school. Deputy Director Stephanie Geller stated RI Kids Count opposes “hateful legislation” excluding gender identity from sex education. Youth Pride RI was also in attendance.

Oversight for the MAD student board appears to lie solely with Dr. Battistoni, but Providence College exercised dubious judgment beyond Dr. Battistoni’s philanthropy class.

For example, Young Voices, is a current Community Partner of Providence College, and it solicits children to complete an interest form on its landing page. Children completing the form are required to provide their name, grade, school, email address, and phone number. A child interested in Young Voice’s “LGBTQIA+ Networking Night” will receive a “follow-up email with more information.” No parental consent or minimum age is required to fill out the form.

Young Voices’ mission is to “to transform urban youth into powerful advocates who have a voice in every aspect of their lives.” The goal of its Providence College partnership is, in part, to “[b]uild a more inclusive bridge for high school students in Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls to access and learn about life after college including higher education options at PC and beyond.” What do “LGBTQ+ network nights” for kids have to do with “higher education options at PC and beyond?”

Lifespan is another questionable Providence College community partner because Lifespan provides “gender and sexual health services” to children. Lifespan and some member providers, including Michelle Forcier, were sued last October by detransitioner Isabelle Ayala who alleges she was rushed into a sex change at 14 years old.

My own former Lifespan pediatrician discharged my children after I complained about “safe zone” stickers promoting gender identity on the walls of children’s exam rooms.

If vetting is too burdensome to ensure Catholic money does not promote anti-Catholic initiatives, perhaps Providence College can include an eligibility clause on grant applications disqualifying applicants whose organizational activities — specifically promotion of gender ideology and abortion — are in contravention to the Catholic faith. Additionally, require a certification that applicants have read the eligibility requirements and make it clear that misrepresentations will result in a return of funds.

Providence College and Dr. Battistoni did not respond to a request for comment.

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Nicole Solas is a senior fellow with the Education Freedom Center at Independent Women’s Forum (

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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