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New $2.5 million endowment will serve RI's Black community
By Chris Barnett / December 19, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...

The leadership of the Black Philanthropy Initiative and Bannister House are launching a new $2.5 million endowment at the Rhode Island Foundation to fund scholarships, youth mentoring and other services for the Black community.

Following the sale of the former Bannister House nursing home in 2015, its former board of directors approached the leadership of the Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative about a possible partnership.

“The board had a series of long discussions about where the money should be held and the types of organizations and activities it should support to honor the history of Bannister House,” explained Jane Hayward, president of the Bannister board at the time of the sale.

The board voted to partner with the Black Philanthropy Initiative, which was established at the Foundation in 2007 to address issues affecting Black Rhode Islanders.

“Since Day One, our goal has been to support positive and systemic change for the Black community. But, real change requires sustained resources. With this new partnership, our role as a perpetual source of support for the Black community grows even stronger,” said Linda Newton, co-chair of the Black Philanthropy Initiative’s advisory committee.

Since 2012, the Foundation has awarded more than $125,000 in grants through the fund. Recipients include the Rhode Island Black Business Association, the Rhode Island chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the Urban League of Rhode Island.

“The initiative was doing a lot of good work in the community, particularly around financial empowerment. This new partnership increases the size of the fund by a factor of almost 10, and that gives us the potential to really scale up its impact,” said Carol Golden, the Foundation’s senior philanthropic advisor, who will oversee the new fund.

More than 1,000 organizations and individuals have created funds at the Foundation in the 100 years since it was founded in 1916. Over the years, the Foundation's endowment has grown to more than $700 million.

“We offer a lot to someone looking for a philanthropic partner. Most importantly, we're in it for the long-term, after all we've been around more than 100 years,” said Golden, “Donors benefit from access to the type of investment advisors that being part of a sizable endowment like ours offers.”

“No matter the donor’s passion –education, health care, economic security, children and families, housing, arts and culture, history or the environment – we have sector experts on staff who can ensure their gift has impact,” said Golden.

Bannister House was founded in 1890 by well-to-do East Side families as the Home for Aged Colored Women to serve retired African American domestic servants. The facility later was renamed to honor its founder, Christiana Bannister.

Using funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bannister built a new, larger facility in 1974 on land on Providence’s West Side donated by Ebenezer Baptist Church.

After its principal source of revenue changed from private support to Medicaid, Bannister encountered financial challenges and went into receivership twice before being sold to a for-profit entity last year.

After paying its creditors in full, Bannister was able to contribute $2.2 million to the new Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.

“The Foundation seemed like the right place for the money’s financial oversight, with the Black Philanthropy Initiative being an appropriate partner,” said Brendan Kane, who served on Bannister’s board.

The new Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund will honor the original focus of Bannister House and the Black Philanthropy Initiative by continuing to serve the African American community in three core areas.

Scholarship assistance for post-secondary education African American/Black students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care at an accredited institution and are Rhode Island residents who demonstrate financial need.

Grants to community-based organizations that provide youth development and mentoring opportunities to urban African American/Black youth. The programs should target educational success, avoidance of risk behaviors, empowerment to make positive decisions, higher aspirations, increased confidence, more positive interpersonal relationships and growth and engagement that positively impacts the community.

Grants to African American/Black community-based organizations that support and promote the history and achievements of African Americans/Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the African American/Black community and strive to uplift low-income African American/Black Rhode Islanders.

The new fund will be guided by an advisory committee comprised of the leadership of the former Black Philanthropy Initiative – Linda Newton, Edward Clifton, Jason Fowler, Beverly Ledbetter and Walter Stone – and Brendan Kane, of the former Bannister board.

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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