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Celebrating record grantmaking in 2015
By Chris Barnett / February 16, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...

The Rhode Island Foundation awarded a record $41.5 million in grants last year. More than 1,600 nonprofit organizations across many sectors received funding.

As the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofits in the state, the Foundation works in partnership with donors and nonprofits to meet the needs of the people of Rhode Island.The Foundation also raised $43 million in new gifts from individual, family, organizational and corporate donors last year, the fourth-highest total in the Foundation’s 99-year history.

"We are indebted to our committed donors for joining with us for 100 years to address on the state’s challenges and opportunities," said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. "Their extraordinary generosity made it possible for us to make investments in Rhode Island as never before."

Many of the awards were made under the Foundation’s competitive Strategy Grant Program, which targets seven key sectors: arts and culture, children and families, education, economic security, environment, health and housing. Through these grants, the Foundation invests in organizations and programs that strive for long-term solutions to significant community issues.

Day One of Providence received $72,030 to support its work fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children and to provide victims with counseling and other services.

Hope & Main in Warren was awarded $100,000 to support its work helping culinary start-ups. The nonprofit business incubator offers assistance with quality control, product testing, distribution and marketing among other services.

Miriam Hospital in Providence received $52,203 for its Food is Medicine program. The hospital will help people reduce their risk of chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes by implementing healthy diets

“From investing in programs that ensure young people can have productive lives to helping people lead healthier lives, our grants take on the issues that will move Rhode Island forward,” said Jenny Pereira, director of grant programs.

Hundreds of nonprofits received discretionary grants, which are awarded by the Foundation’s staff and directors. The awards include:

More than $322,000 was awarded to organizations that provide services to people who are visually impaired, including the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center in Warwick and Meeting Street School in Providence.

Operation Stand Down received $15,000 to provide food and transportation to homeless veterans at its facilities in Johnston, Newport and West Warwick.

Another $325,300 was awarded to food banks, homeless shelters and free clinics that provide services to needy Rhode Islanders, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport, Welcome House of South County and the Saint Mary’s Home for Children in North Providence.

In addition to grantmaking and fundraising, community leadership is central to the Foundation’s activities and business. In 2015, the Foundation raised a record $354,247 in the fourth year of its annual Civic Leadership Fund (CLF), which enables the Foundation to go beyond traditional grantmaking to provide leadership and a forum for dialogue on critical community issues. Among CLF’s ongoing projects are the Buy Local RI economic development initiative and Community Conversations, a series of presentations on crucial issues.

“Our Civic Leadership donors recognize that change can require many different approaches. Having the resources to take advantage of opportunities enhances the work that our nonprofit partners already do,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s senior vice president of strategy and community investments.

Founded with a $10,000 gift from Jesse Metcalf in 1916, the Foundation’s assets have grown to $790 million. To celebrate its centennial, the Foundation plans a full year of community activities highlighted by a campaign to raise $10 million to preserve and improve Roger Williams Park.

The Foundation has already raised $4.5 million. The support includes $1.5 million from the Foundation itself as well as a $1.15 million gift from The Champlin Foundations to restore the historic Bandstand and Museum. In addition, nearly three dozen other donors have combined to contribute $2 million to the campaign.

“We are very excited to partner with the Rhode Island Foundation to restore Roger Williams Park. This donation builds on the investments we have made over the years to care for this wonderful place. I hope others will join us in supporting this campaign,” said Keith Lang, Champlin’s executive director.

Plans call for $5 million to be spent on repairs and improvements to the park over the next five years. Many of the current buildings, roads, bridges and sidewalks were built by the federal Works Progress Administration from 1935 to 1940. Structures such as the Temple to Music and Betsey Williams Cottage are even older. Work is expected to begin later this year.

In addition, the Foundation plans to create a $5 million endowment that will provide a permanent source of funding for the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to ongoing stewardship of the park.

See a list of our more than 1,600 grantee organizations for 2015.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 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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