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Black Philanthropy grants expand equity and access
By Chris Barnett / January 15, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...

Five nonprofit organizations that serve the African-American community will receive $25,000 in grants from the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI), a field-of-interest fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.

“By funding proposals that promote equity and access, we can improve the lives of Rhode Island’s Black community. Encouraging long-term, systemic changes will create pathways to achievement and success,” said Linda Newton, who co-chairs BPI’s advisory committee.

The following organizations received grants:

The Urban League of Rhode Island received $8,000 for its Helping Others Prosper through Empowerment Initiative, which serves people of color, including veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals. The grant provides support for career counseling, mentoring and financial fitness.

“The major outcome will be greater emotional intelligence and behavioral changes resulting from motivational empowerment related to career development and financial fitness,” said Belinda Philippe, the Urban League’s interim CEO. The training session will begin in February. For more information, contact Philippe at (401) 351-5000, x130.

Capital Good Fund received $5,000 to offer its Financial Empowerment for Families program to 40 low-income, Black families. Participants will receive 20 hours of one-on-one coaching that covers the basics of budgeting, banking, credit, debt management and savings. In addition, families will be encouraged to eat healthy on a budget, access primary care and health insurance, reduce emergency room visits and sign up for public benefits such as food stamps.

“Clients come out of our Financial Empowerment program with a new budget, debt management plan, and a whole host of other skills and tools that empower them to set and met goals and get on a path to financial and life success,” said CEO and founder Andy Posner.

Higher Ground International received $5,000 for its “Picking Up the Pieces” workforce development initiative, which serves youth and young adults of West African immigrant families living in Providence. The 6-week program will prepare people age 16-to-26 for employment and community leadership.

"This will empower young people who are at-risk, whose families have experienced the atrocities of civil war and are now struggling to adjust to their new lives. They will gain the foundational career skills necessary to become productive members of their community and sustain a high quality of life. We are grateful for the support of the Black Philanthropy Initiative as we continue to expand our work in the underserved community of West African immigrants in Providence." said CEO Henrietta White-Holder.

The Refugee Dream Center received $5,000 for its Refugee Adult Job Readiness Training program. By offering English classes and computer training, the initiative will prepare adult refugees from Africa and the Caribbean for self-sufficiency and employment.

“Our emphasis is on competence-based job development. Participants will learn read, write and speak functional English, operate computers at a basic level, develop job interview skills and understand workplace ethics and expectations,” said Omar Bah, founder and executive director of the Refugee Dream Center.

The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) received $2,000 to support its financial literacy and small business seminars. The workshops will focus on generally accepted accounting principles customized to the needs of small business, including assessing financial status, financial reporting and disclosure and summarizing financial activity.

“Because of lack of access to capital, most black owned businesses are self-financed with relatively low annual revenues. Poor recordkeeping is frequently cited by agencies and organizations that prepare minority businesses to apply for loans. With increased access to capital, these businesses will be in position to expand and to hire,” said RIBBA President Lisa Ranglin.

These grants come as BPI launches a fundraising appeal. The fund is a permanent endowment at the Foundation dedicated to advancing equity and social justice for Blacks in Rhode Island.

“With your support, we can continue to fund initiatives like these that will improve the economic security of Black Rhode Islanders. Your contribution will create a permanent source of funding for Black empowerment,” said the Honorable Edward Clifton, who co-chairs BPI’s advisory committee with Newton. Supporters can donate to BPI on-line.

Established in 2009, BPI is the first fund at the Foundation devoted exclusively to causes and issues affecting Black Rhode Islanders. In addition to Clifton and Newton, the members of BPI’s advisory committee are Jason Fowler, Beverly Ledbetter and the Honorable Walter Stone. Over the years, the fund has awarded more than $110,000 in grants.

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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