Dr. Charles Nicholas Fortes
Born in New Bedford the oldest of five children, Charles Fortes, better known as Charlie, was a merchant seaman and a member of the National Maritime Union until a serious heart attack curtailed his career at sea. Married to Rose and the father of seven children, Charlie returned to Providence in the sixties and became an employee of Progress for Providence, a state anti-poverty agency, as a neighborhood representative in the west end of Providence.
In 1969 he established and served as Executive Director of the Providence Corporation, the largest private anti-poverty agency in the United States at the time. It operated the largest VISTA program in the nation. Charlie was instrumental in establishing educational, health and social organizations that became an integral part of Rhode Island society.
He helped to establish and served on the Board of Directors of the Providence Ambulatory Health Centers, the Urban Education Center, the Opportunities Industrialization Center, LEAP program for students interested in science and the Rhode Island Hometown Plan.
He was an early supporter of Cape Verdean nationalism and independence. Along with three others, Charles founded and was the first president of the Cape Verdean American Federation. He was appointed to serve on the first Cape Verdean Heritage Subcommittee in 1975.
Rhode Island College bestowed on him an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy Degree in 1973. The Charles Fortes Magnet Academy is named for him and dedicated to his memory. Charles Fortes passed away in 1977.