Rhode Island’s innovative nonprofits can learn a lot from each other. That’s why we present Best Practice Awards every year. It’s a great way for nonprofits to showcase their amazing work while sharing successes that have the potential to be of widespread benefit to other organizations.
This year’s recipients are something special. The Rhode Island Jump$tart Coalition, Green & Healthy Homes, the Boys & Girls Club of East Providence, Open Doors, and Girls Rock! Rhode Island emerged from a highly competitive process and an impressive group of nominees. There is something instructive in each of their extraordinary stories that can help any nonprofit accomplish more.
Their work ranges from preparing incarcerated Rhode Islanders for release from the Adult Correctional Institution to an advocacy campaign that led to the creation of the first-ever statewide financial literacy standards for public schools.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island sponsors the awards. More than 100 people joined us at the awards ceremony. The recipients will receive a $1,000 grant, a video documenting their work and tuition waivers for one of our professional development workshops or seminars.
"As a sponsor - and as a nonprofit with a social mission of our own - we at Blue Cross understand and appreciate the collective impact of the organizations being honored this year," says CEO Peter Andruszkiewicz. "Recognizing these organizations and their great work gives us an opportunity to reflect on and learn from nonprofit best practices to help Rhode Islanders lead healthier lives."
The Rhode Island Jump$tart Coalition received our Advocacy Award for a public policy advocacy effort that prompted the Rhode Island Council on Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt the state’s first-ever standards for financial literacy.
"The RI Jump$tart Coalition worked collaboratively with diverse individuals and organizations across the state to communicate our shared vision for financial literacy to key decision-makers and to the public," says President Margaret Brooks, president. “The adoption of Council for Economic Education’s National Standards for Financial Literacy standards for K-12 schools last November is an important step in advancing the financial capability of all residents, which in turn will contribute to a stronger economy.”
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative received the Collaboration Award for creating the Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes, which includes more than 75 organizations that work together to align, braid and coordinate information, resources and services to improve the health and safety of Rhode Island homes.
“We are grateful to our incredible partners in the Alliance for engaging in truly effective collaboration. We are honored to receive this recognition and proud of the work being done in Rhode Island. GHHI is proving the model of disciplined, thoughtful collaboration to be very effective in achieving positive outcomes for families,” says CEO Ruth Ann Norton.
The Boys & Girls Club of East Providence received the Communications Award for a marketing campaign that increased membership by 18 percent, the number of donors by 22 percent and participation in the club’s programs by 17.5 percent.
“As the only nonprofit youth drop-in center in our community, it’s imperative that we deepen our reach to area families. This communication strategy helped us to not only increase the number of children we are serving, but also increase the resources the agency has to help families in need,” says Executive Director Erin Gilliatt.
OpenDoors received the Innovation Award for its “9 Yards” program, which prepares incarcerated Rhode Islanders for re-entry through comprehensive long-term supports including job training, education, transitional housing and counseling. Eighty percent of the program’s graduates are currently working or in school.
"We like to say that this program is going the ‘whole 9 Yards’ to end the cycle of crime and incarceration.' It's demonstrating we really can rehabilitate the people that everyone assumes will just end up back in prison. It just requires putting together a program that does everything right,” explains Executive Director Solongel Rodriguez.
Girls Rock! Rhode Island received the Leadership Award for increasing operational efficiencies by defining strong strategic priorities such as expanding fundraising and increasing the annual budget.
"Our board has challenged itself to grow in much the same way our participants challenge themselves in our programming. They have established GRR! as a learning organization and worked hard to reach strategic and fundraising goals that enable us to reach more girls and women with music empowerment programming," says Executive Director Hilary Jones.