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Dec. 16 is deadline to apply for $300,000 Innovation Fellowships
By Chris Barnett / October 24, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...

Rhode Islanders have until Dec. 16 to apply for $300,000 grants to develop, test and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically move Rhode Island forward. This year, the Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship program focuses on proposals that increase or improve civic engagement.

“We are marking our 100th anniversary with a year-long celebration of community. As we come to the end of our centennial, we could think of no better tribute than to encourage Rhode Islanders to think creatively about what that means to them,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “With this targeted emphasis, we hope to engage and inspire people to become agents of change and progress.”

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Foundation has offered the fellowships, which are made possible through the vision and generosity of philanthropists Letitia and John Carter.

“By encouraging bold thinkers to bring their best ideas to life, Letitia and John Carter bolster our state’s reputation as a home of creativity and resourcefulness,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

Up to two recipients will receive up to $100,000 a year for three years. Preference will be given to proposals with the potential to generate the greatest good for the greatest number of Rhode Islanders, a small idea that has the promise to be built to scale or new approaches to long-standing challenges.

“Letitia and I believe deeply in the capacity of everyday Rhode Islanders to solve the issues that affect our state. We are committed to making our state a better place to live and hope the public is inspired to submit proposals with the potential to lead the way,” said John Carter.

The Foundation will also give priority to applications that propose a new, novel or re-energized approach that has not been tried meaningfully in Rhode Island, the unique fit of the fellowship for the idea and the idea’s potential to generate excitement within a broader community and leverage resources from other sources.

Only individuals may apply. 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 their fellowship. The application and eligibility requirements are posted here.

The initial, one-page application asks applicants to summarize their idea in no more than 150 words and to describe how it would promote civic engagement. 

Steinberg will chair the selection committee. The other members are Elan Babchuk, director of innovation at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; Central Falls School Supt. Victor Capellan, Theresa Moore, president of T-Time Productions; Aidan Petrie, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Ximedica; Rhode Island College President Frank Sánchez, Dan Shedd, president of Taylor Box Company; and Leslie Taito, senior vice president of corporate operations at Hope Global.

In February 2017, 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.

The five previous rounds of fellowships generated more than 1,450 applications. The 2016 recipient is Ray Two Hawks Watson.

Watson is boosting the state’s tourism industry and improving social cohesion by capitalizing on Rhode Island’s cultural heritage, history and diversity through his Providence Cultural Equity Initiative.

The other previous recipients are Amy Bernhardt, David Dadekian, Adrienne Gagnon, John Haley, Daniel Kamil and Emily Steffian, Soren Ryherd, Dr. Lynn Taylor and Allan Tear.

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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