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Dec. 11 is deadline to apply for $300,000 Innovation Fellowships
By Chris Barnett / December 3, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
Fri., Dec. 11, is the deadline to apply for the Rhode Island Foundation’s $300,000 Innovation Fellowships. Made possible through the vision and generosity of philanthropists Letitia and John Carter, initiative will award two applicants up to $300,000 apiece over three years to develop, test and implement innovative proposals that have the potential to move the state forward.

“This program enhances Rhode Island’s reputation as a place of innovation and ingenuity. We thank Letitia and John Carter for having the vision to encourage bold thinkers to bring their best ideas to life,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

Preference will be given to proposals that promise the greatest good for the greatest number of Rhode Islanders, a small idea that has big potential to be built to scale or new approaches to long-standing, intractable challenges.

“Letitia and I believe strongly in the promise of our state and the importance of innovation. We hope this program will continue to generate creative proposals with the potential to lead to great things,” said John Carter.

Although applicants do not have to be residents of Rhode Island when they apply, they must commit to living in Rhode Island during the term of the Fellowship if selected.

The one-page, initial application asks applicants to summarize their proposed innovation in no more than a few hundred words and to describe how it would benefit Rhode Islanders. The application and answers to frequently asked questions are posted at rifoundation.org.

Steinberg will chair the selection committee. The other members are Victor Capellan, superintendent of schools in Central Falls; Janet Coit, director of the state Department of Environmental Management; Patricia Flanagan, professor of pediatrics and chief of clinical affairs at Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Theresa Moore, president of T-Time Productions; Aidan Petrie, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Ximedica; and Dan Shedd, president of Taylor Box Company.

In February 2016, the selection panel will ask a group of semi-finalists to submit a more detailed application and a short video. The Foundation expects to announce the winners in April.

This is the fifth round of funding. The 2015 recipients are John Haley and the husband and wife team of Daniel Kamil and Emily Steffian.

Haley is working on a plan to stimulate the state’s shellfish industry by creating a more reliable method of obtaining blue mussel seed stock fixed to a growth/cultivation substrate. He will manufacture a Blue Mussel Spat Attachment Cord, pre-loaded with blue shell mussel larva -- called “spat” – made available to shellfish cultivators year-round.

Kamil and Steffian are working on the Providence Cinematheque, Rhode Island's only multi-screen exhibition space and educational facility focusing on first-run, independent film programming; repertory series, and a curriculum in film history and media literacy. They launched the first annual Providence Art and Design Film Festival in October.

The 2014 Fellows are Amy Bernhardt and David Dadekian.

Amy Bernhardt's project “Colorfast,” is a digitally printed textile facility that also houses an extensive original and vintage print collection art directed by Zoe Latta of Prince Ruth.

Dadekian is launching the "Eat Drink Rhode Island Central Market," which will house a number of food- and drink-related businesses, including a public market, commercial production and processing facilities, and an educational component.

The 2013 Fellows are Adrienne Gagnon and Dr. Lynn Taylor.

Gagnon’s “Innovation by Design” project is fostering the next generation of Rhode Island innovators with the creation of a design toolkit for classrooms. Gagnon offers free professional development workshops for educators and also engages students in designing positive change for their communities through her free Mobile Design Lab residencies.

Taylor has launched the “Rhode Island Defeats Hep C” campaign, which aims to make Rhode Island the first state to eliminate the Hepatitis C virus infection using a comprehensive approach that includes increasing awareness, testing to cure, building infrastructure for a sustainable model and evaluation.

Soren Ryherd and Allan Tear received the inaugural Fellowships in 2012.

Ryherd’s “The Retail Project” runs three e-commerce stores with the goal of opening brick and mortar stores in Rhode Island neighborhoods.

Tear‘s RallyRI project built platforms to help entrepreneurs launch start-ups in sectors such as art and design, food and beverage and advanced manufacturing. The work continues in initiatives such as DesignxRI, EdTechRI and the Founders League.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2014, the Foundation awarded $34.8 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
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