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Working together, learning from each other
By Jill Pfitzenmayer / May 11, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...

Last night, we presented five outstanding Rhode Island nonprofit organizations with the 2016 Best Practice Awards. The honored work ranges from an initiative that links outdoor play and a summer meal program for low-income Providence children to a digital storytelling campaign that promotes Rhode Island’s strengths.

“These recipients emerged from a highly competitive process and an impressive group of nominees. There is something in each of their remarkable achievements that can help any nonprofit become even more effective,” said Jill Pfitzenmayer, vice president of the Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence (INE).

Sponsored by BCBSRI, the awards program recognizes outstanding practices by Rhode Island nonprofit organizations in the areas of collaboration, communication, innovation, leadership and volunteer engagement.

“As a non-profit organization ourselves, with deep roots and an exclusive focus on Rhode Island communities, the Best Practice Awards have special meaning for Blue Cross,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of BCBSRI. “These awards are a great example of what it means to work as a team. By working together and learning from each other, we can make incredible positive change in the lives of every Rhode Islander.”

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. 

GrowSmart RI received the Communications Award for #ShareCommunity, a digital storytelling campaign focusing on Rhode Island’s strengths. The strategy leverages the power of social media and video storytelling — and represents a partnership between GrowSmart RI and like-minded, local companies.

"We're grateful to the RI Foundation and to Blue Cross Blue Shield for recognizing our media campaign to highlight Rhode Island's many under-appreciated assets." 

– Scott Wolf, executive director


The Volunteer Engagement Award was presented to House of Hope Community Development Corporation for utilizing a unique and innovative approach to integrating volunteers directly into service provision and decision-making within the agency while ensuring that the needs of the clients served remain the primary focus.

"By empowering our peer mentors, many of whom have struggled with homelessness themselves, they gain self-worth and self-respect in knowing they are making a difference in the lives of others." 

– Jean Johnson, executive director


The Newport County Community Mental Health Center (NCCMHC) of Middletown received the Leadership Award. Through an intensive strategic planning process that involved both its Board of Directors and its executive management team, NCCMHC created a strategic business plan that addresses enhancing and diversifying clinical services; partnerships and collaboration; expanding and sustaining revenue; workforce development; and branding, marketing, outreach and communication.

"Our board members and leadership staff have worked hard this year to expand and improve our services in a way that promotes excellence and immediate access to care."

– James Lehane, President/CEO


The Collaboration Award was presented to the Partnership for Providence Parks for its PlayCorps initiative. A partnership with the Providence Children’s Museum and the City of Providence’s Department of Parks and Recreation and Healthy Communities Office, PlayCorps activates inner-city parks in conjunction with the free federal summer meals program.

PlayCorps’ trained play facilitators provide enrichment materials and active play opportunities daily at seven Providence parks in high-risk neighborhoods, promoting low-income children’s use of the parks and participation in the meals program.

"We believe PlayCorps facilitates the highest quality, open-ended and creative educational programing in combination with free summer meals." 

– Helene Miller, executive director


Sojourner House of Providence received the Innovation Award for integrating services for victims of domestic violence who have the added layer of immigration issues. As the only domestic violence agency in the state doing so, Sojourner House provides culturally sensitive assistance, resources and options to assist clients in making informed decisions about their status and how to live free from abuse.

"Immigrants and refugees who are also victims of domestic violence face unique barriers.... Our immigration program provides these clients with critical, life-saving legal advocacy." 

– Vanessa Volz, executive director


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