Economic Security

Economic security for all Rhode Islanders is within reach, if we work together.

The Genesis Center is helping unemployed and underemployed Rhode Islanders overcome the skills gap.
The Genesis Center is using a Foundation grant to increase education and training services that provide a 'bridge' to help unemployed and underemployed Rhode Islanders overcome the skills gap.

Economic Security is one of our three Strategic Initiatives. Across all three - Healthy Lives, Educational Success, and Economic Security - we are focused on:

  • The places where our three strategic priorities intersect. True progress in one is not possible without progress in all three.
  • Statewide investment, with priority placed on investments that will break down the barriers that hold back low income Rhode Islanders and Rhode Islanders of color.
  • Supporting cultures of civic engagement and philanthropy within these three areas, and across our state. Both are proven drivers of sustainable change.

Here is what that means for our Economic Security strategy, specifically: 
Investments of funding, and our institutional investment beyond grantmaking, are aimed at long term, demonstrable improvements in household financial stability and household wealth. We will look for equity to be demonstrated in the reduction in disparities across these measures.  

To reach our 2025 Impact Targets for Economic Security  we will focus on three strategies: 

  1. Effective workforce development. We support proven programs that demonstrate results, with an emphasis on serving high need populations (i.e. low income job seekers, people of color, and those with the greatest barriers to employment). We also aim to improve the workforce development system, by encouraging and enabling better use of data to evaluate progress and by pursuing improved coordination and navigability within the system.

    For example: Year Up supports low-income young adults as they move from poverty to professional careers in a single year. The first half of the year consists of training, skills development, and coursework as a cohort. Students then complete a six-month corporate internship. Year Up started in Boston in 2000 and Providence was the first expansion site. Providence is now one of 20 Year Up programs around the country and has assisted nearly 1,000 Rhode Island program graduates since 2005. The Foundation has been a proud supporter of Year Up Providence since its early days.
  2. Small business growth. We invest in a strong and supportive environment that helps enterprising Rhode Islanders start and grow businesses. We work to support the expansion of high quality programs that serve entrepreneurs and small businesses, with a focus on low income entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. We also invest in strengthening the resources, supports, and policy environment in which businesses start and grow.  And we build demand and appreciation for local businesses through Buy Local RI.

    An example of a grantee doing this work: The Center for Women and Enterprise provides education, counseling, and paths to funding for Rhode Island women entrepreneurs. With Foundation support, CWE has brought its programs to Rhode Island’s underserved entrepreneurs through its Community Classrooms initiative and created a microloan program for those who cannot access traditional financing.

    The Foundation hired Next Street to do an assessment of the small business ecosystem. Read the report here.

    And Buy Local RI helps to stimulate local economic activity by promoting local businesses and encouraging all Rhode Islanders to support the companies, products, and services that employ our state’s workforce. Learn more, read Building the Local Economy.
  3. High opportunity clusters. At times, we are able to provide catalytic investments in the sectors where growth and innovation is alive and well. Our aim here is to spark broader efforts and investments from other partners.

    For example: The Composites Alliance of Rhode Island is a consortium of companies focused on growing the composites industry in Rhode Island through advocacy, education, and promotion. The Foundation supported early convening and planning work for the Alliance, which has since received a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency to plan a composites center of excellence in the East Bay. 

Partner with us on this strategic initiative

Invest in the Fund for Rhode Island
Apply for a Strategic Initiative Grant

Foundation-initiated economic security programs

Buy Local RI
A program to promote local businesses and to encourage Rhode Islanders to support local companies, products, and services
Make It Happen RI
An initiative to improve Rhode Island’s economy and spur public/private collaboration
Rhode Island: It's all in our Backyard
A campaign to uncover and elevate all that’s great in our little state

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