Since 1922, the International Institute of Rhode Island has helped immigrants coming to Rhode Island. Equally important, the Institute helped them find ways to preserve their culture while adapting to American life. Recently merged with Dorcas Place, which concentrates on ESL and Adult Education classes, the International Institute originally focused on immigrant women and girls. At a time when some social workers were criticizing Italian families for still eating spaghetti, the International Institute was strongly in favor of immigrants keeping their ethnic roots.
In 1967, the Institute housed the Cuban Club, founded by Dr. Eduardo Salabert and his wife Virginia, Cuban immigrants whose children were brought to the United States during Operation Peter Pan. El Club Cubano created a revolving fund to help new arrivals start afresh.