RISE was founded by two Brown University-affiliated physicians, Dr. Timothy Flanigan and Dr. Kevin Vigilante, who worked with incarcerated and addicted women. Flanigan and Vigilante identified an intergenerational socio-medical syndrome in their patients that may include the following symptoms: poverty, under-education, joblessness, homelessness, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, drug addiction, domestic or other violence, involvement with the criminal justice system, incarceration and premature death. The research and experience of the physicians led them to the conclusion that the best way to prevent this syndrome was through educational opportunities and mentoring. They founded RISE to provide scholarships to children of women who have a history of incarceration. RISE was officially launched in 1997 under the leadership of Founding Director, Kristen Haffenreffer. In 2004, RISE broadened the service population to include children with a father who has been incarcerated.