PHS receives $225K grant from van Beuren Charitable Foundation

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Through the assistance of the Kate Grana Music & Arts Association (KGMAA), the Portsmouth High School has been chosen as the recipient of a $225,000 grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation (vBCF).

This generous grant will be used to directly support the upgrade of the PHS Auditorium and allow the school to focus on three main components: improve student participation in the Career and Technical Program, advance Technical Education efficiency, and provide access to a safe, welcoming, and functional community space for local outside organizations to use during off hours.

“There is no way to thank the KGMAA board enough for all of the hard work they have done to get us this grant,” said Portsmouth Superintendent Ana Riley. “KGMAA is not only benefiting our students’ education but they are truly benefiting the entire

“This is a huge step forward for the Kate Grana Music and Arts Association’s mission to reimagine and modernize the long-neglected Portsmouth High School Auditorium and Music Suite,” said KGMAA Board President Margie Brennan. “We cannot thank
vBCF enough for this much-needed grant. They are truly helping us further the education and safety of our students.”

The high school was built in 1959, and though the building has had three major renovations and additions over the years (1963, 1981, and 2000), the auditorium has remained untouched for almost six decades.

Some of the problems facing the auditorium currently include out-dated technical systems (light and sound), substandard accommodations, and safety concerns.

The Portsmouth High auditorium is a centerpiece for the community and has been used by Portsmouth and Aquidneck Island citizens throughout its history for assemblies, plays, band performances, choral concerts, school functions, fundraisers, town gatherings, and much more.

During the day, the auditorium is used as a classroom for theatre classes and the new Academy for Media Communication and Digital Video Production program.

Certified by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the Career and Technical Education program (CTE) is a unique program that delivers specialized instruction in communication and video skills. This program is offered to all of Aquidneck Island, Tiverton, Little Compton, Bristol, and Warren students.

Through the collaboration with KGMAA, stage one of the theater renovation will include new lighting and sound equipment and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2019. New seating is projected to be installed summer of 2019.

Established in 1986 in Rhode Island, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation is a family philanthropy dedicated to protecting and preserving the unique characteristics of Newport County and improving the quality of life for its residents. The foundation has focused on enhancing the effectiveness in three main areas; landscapes and the built environments, education and health. To learn more go to

Kate Grana Music and Arts Association (KGMAA) is a 501(c)(3) formed in 2018. Its purpose is to review current technical and structural needs of the PHS Auditorium and Music Suite and to assist in fundraising for improvements in order to establish a center for Music and the Performing Arts.

New seating, stage lighting, sound equipment and much more are all part of the dream to bring these much-neglected areas of the
Portsmouth High School into the 21st Century. The vision is to build a creative and inspirational hub that will not only benefit the students of PHS but the whole community.

In recognition of Kate Grana and her decades of influence and dedication to Portsmouth, the new auditorium will be named in her honor. To donate or join the cause, visit

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