Year in Review

Dear friends -

2015 marked the Rhode Island Foundation’s 99th year. And what a year it has been! At the Foundation and across Rhode Island, there is a palpable sense of momentum.

It was a record-breaking year for the Foundation, as we awarded $41.5 million in Foundation grants, our largest ever investment in Rhode Island. Thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of our many partners, we are seeing exciting indicators of progress.

Shared economic vitality requires a strong ecosystem. Valuable economic and workforce development intermediaries used Foundation grants to launch new programs and scale successful efforts. The Center for Women & Enterprise kicked off its micro-loan program with 10 loans for local entrepreneurs. Hope & Main in Warren launched more than 50 food businesses. And 97% of Year Up Providence’s most recent graduating class found employment or continued on to college. Learn more about our Economic Security initiative.

We know that great teachers and strong school leaders make a difference for students. With our support, Warwick brought a math coach into several of its elementary schools. The International Charter School helped the Pawtucket and South Kingstown school districts launch dual-language immersion programs. New principals from across the state came together regularly at the Foundation to share challenges and learnings. And, of course, the Rhode Island Department of Education developed a new strategic vision. Learn more about our Educational Success initiative.

Our health investments focused on reforming the way care is delivered and paid for. Six partnerships are benefitting from $2.7 million from the third round of our Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island. Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Care New England, Care Transformation Collaborative, Rhode Island Health Center Association, and Rhode Island Quality Institute are testing new models that seek to align administration, incentives, and outcomes. And the Department of Health is expanding its loan repayment program for primary care practitioners working in communities with the greatest need. Learn more about our Healthy Lives initiative.

We granted over $325,000 to community organizations meeting basic needs like shelter, food, and transportation all over Rhode Island. With our support, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless is a leader in the Zero: 2016 campaign to end chronic homelessness among veterans, and a coalition of organizations is working together to reduce water pollution that impacts Rhode Island’s shellfish beds and beaches. Over 500 students are attending school with scholarships made possible by Foundation donors.

99 years in to this work, we are guided by the belief that community is created and renewed every single day.

Civic leadership by, with, and through the Foundation continued to gain steam in 2015. Through the Community Conversations series, national experts and local practitioners shared important learnings and connected their areas of work. Our Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence, which helps build capacity in the nonprofit sector through programs, technical assistance, and education, served its 530th organization. It was also a year of unprecedented partnership with the public sector, as new leaders took office.

All of this would be impossible, of course, without the generosity of our donors. Generous donors gave $43 million to the Foundation in 2015. More than 50 donors started new funds, and 35 people pledged a portion of their estate, ensuring that their philanthropic legacies will last forever. We hope you will read the stories of many of the new funds created at the Foundation last year. Because of the foresight of donors like Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson and Letitia and John Carter, the Foundation named our 10th set of MacColl Johnson fellows and fifth round of Rhode Island Innovation Fellows.

Indeed, 2015 was a year of many milestones. We wish to thank Frederick Butler, who chaired the Foundation with steadiness and compassion for three years. We are grateful that Fred continues to serve as a director.

99 years in to this work, we are guided by the belief that community is created and renewed every single day. Community is made by investors who are willing to take confident risks. Community calls for conversation, compromise, and collaboration. It requires leadership. Community is made by change-makers who are unwilling to accept the status quo and determined to make life better for their neighbors. And it requires connection over values, space, roots, or aspirations.

And so we look to the future with tremendous gratitude to our partners and optimism for our future. Our community is growing ever stronger, Rhode Island. We are inspired by you, and we stand in your service.

Marie J. Langlois

Neil D. Steinberg
President & CEO

By the Numbers

The People's Park

“The public park is a luxury for all; its beauties and its charms and its freedom
are the undisputed possession of every man, woman, and child.”
– a philanthropist



The original 102 acres was bequeathed to the city of Providence by Betsey Williams.


The Park was designed as a place of respite and rejuvenation.


Roger Williams Park includes 435 beautiful acres over land and water.


The Park makes fitness and recreation accessible to all.


The Park hosts community festivals, church picnics, historical tours, and notable pieces of public art.


The Park offers public gardens, a planetarium, carousel, swan boats, and much more.

Community is created in shared places, where history feels present, relationships begin, differences are celebrated and harmonies are discovered, and new possibilities imagined.

Roger Williams Park is one of Rhode Island’s most treasured community spaces. That’s why the centerpiece of our centennial commemoration is a campaign to preserve and enhance the Park.

It all happens here:

  • History: The original 102 acres of farmland and woodland that became Roger Williams Park was bequeathed to the city of Providence by Betsey Williams, great, great, great granddaughter of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. The gift included a portion of the land that was originally granted to Roger Williams by the Narragansett tribe.

  • Heritage: As Providence was rapidly becoming a center of industrialization in the late nineteenth century, the Park was designed to serve as a place of respite and rejuvenation.

  • Nature: Roger Williams Park includes 435 beautiful acres over land and water. It is truly an oasis within the city.

  • Recreation: With walking trails, tennis courts, ball fields, and waterway access, the Park makes fitness and recreation accessible to all.

  • Culture: Roger William Park is the People’s Park. It hosts community festivals, church picnics, historical tours, and notable pieces of public art.

  • Fun: The Park offers public gardens, a museum of natural history, planetarium, playgrounds, carousel, swan boat rentals, and the region’s premiere zoo.

Roger Williams Park is a gift from a previous generation, but it needs new investment and care. We intend to steward this special place for future generations. Join us.

2015 New Funds

See the list of more than 1,400 funds generous Rhode Islanders have established at the Foundation.

Complete list of funds

Meet the members of our 1916 Society, individuals who have named the Foundation in their estate plans or have established deferred gifts.

1916 Society

2015 Financials


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Generous Rhode Islanders have entrusted their philanthropy to the Rhode Island Foundation, and we take very seriously our responsibility to steward their legacies.

The Foundation deploys prudent, long-term financial strategies to ensure that we can maximize our grants to the Rhode Island community each year while also preserving and growing the endowment for the future.


Investments are managed by a committee of Foundation directors and advisors with expertise in the field. With the support of an investment consultant and the Foundation’s chief financial officer, the committee establishes the investment policy, selects investment managers, and monitors their performance.

Investments follow a broadly diversified asset allocation strategy. Over the past decade, the Foundation has increased the proportion of equity investments and expanded its portfolio to include investments in emerging markets, alternatives, and global fixed income. The Foundation is committed to a 'total return' investment goal to ensure that our endowment grows in perpetuity. Any investment return earned over the spending policy is added to principal.

We set high performance standards for our investment managers and our endowment returns consistently rank in the top quartile compared to our community foundation peers. In 2015, a year of uneven investment performance across asset classes worldwide, our investments had an average return of -1.6 percent.

Operating Expenses

With the support of a finance committee made up of Foundation directors and advisors, we are committed to carefully managing our operating expenses. Our 2015 operating expenses were managed to within approximately one percent of our total assets, which is well within the industry standards for community foundations.

Spending Policy

Our spending policy determines the amount of dollars available for grants and operations. It is reviewed annually by the Foundation’s board. The spending policy ranges between 5.0 and 6.53 percent, depending upon the fund type, of the trailing sixteen quarter average endowment value. This allows us to provide a predictable stream of grants while growing the endowment over the long-term. Actual spending in 2015 averaged 5.8 percent.

Thanks to the diligent work of our board, committees, and staff, we distributed $41.5 million in the community in 2015, a record for the Foundation.

For more detailed financial information, download our Balance Sheet. 

Who We Are

Board of Directors

The Foundation is led by a board with the highest commitment to excellence.

More at

Staff Members

Meet the team members at Rhode Island Foundation who make it happen.

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Discover more about our Foundation and how to get involved:

Foundation Strategy  Our Grant Programs  Giving through the Foundation  Volunteer Advisors

One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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