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