Save Chocolateville: Central Falls, RI

What is Save Chocolateville™?

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Central Falls had been colloquially known as "Chocolateville" for its innovation and entrepreneurial spirit as a chocolate manufacturer. As time wore on, the name Chocolateville dissipated with the decline of the American manufacturing scene. Amidst the most recent financial crisis, in 2011 Central Falls became the only city in RI to enter bankruptcy.

Rhode Island's leaders have asked the question, "how can Central Falls once again become a prosperous city?" They have agreed that the solution lies within a strategic combination of community engagement, social entrepreneurship and a common, powerful desire to invoke positive change. While it is not a cure-all for city, the Save Chocolateville initiative is certainly one gigantic step in the right direction.

What does "Save" Chocolateville™ mean?

Years of financial and social struggle led to bankruptcy, making Central Falls the epitome of the failing American industrial city. This initiative is a localized call-to-action... a modern day "barn raising"... a collaborative, inside-outside effort to resurrect the spirit of ingenuity and community.

Leadership Rhode Island 2012 Theta II class took on the task of creating positive change in the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island. Although the city measures only one square-mile, its issues are no less daunting than any other city. If successful, their efforts could be a model for other cities across the United States.

Of the fruits of LRI’s labor, one stood out as particularly delectable (quite literally). Mike Ritz, executive director of LRI, teamed up with Andrew Shotts, the master chocolatier behind Garrison Confections, to create a combination of irresistible chocolate and positive social impact—the Save Chocolateville initiative.

The chocolate itself is sourced from Guittard Chocolate Company, making it Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified and from the oldest family owned chocolate company in the U.S. Everything else about the bar is as local as can be.

Mike_Ritz Andrew_Shotts
design Barrington_Printing
(From top left, clockwise) Save Chocolateville initiative by Mike Ritz, Executive Director of Leadership Rhode Island; chocolate made by Andrew Shotts of Garrison Confections; printing by Barrington Printing; design by Casey Spencer.

Over 2,800 chocolate bars have been enjoyed since the initiative’s inception. This translates to over $7,100 raised for the children of Central Falls. The bars were sold at Whole Foods University Heights in Providence from February 7th through Easter. They are now available at the following locations: AAA Southern New England in Cranston, Providence, Warwick, Hamden and Boston; Navigant Credit Union in Central Falls and Pawtucket; and Adams Memorial Library in Central Falls.