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Nonprofits serving Newport County share $270,000 in grants
By Chris Barnett / July 25, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

The Rhode Island Foundation will award more than $270,000 to dozens of nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents.

The grants, through the Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF), will underwrite a host of activities ranging from job readiness training and after-school activities to preventing relationship violence and stocking food pantries.

“From enriching arts and educational opportunities for young people to underwriting critical health and environmental programs, we are proud to work with partners that are improving lives here,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the donors who make our support possible and the local men and women who keep us closely connected to the community.”

The NCF offered grants of up $10,000 in seven key funding areas: arts and culture, basic human needs, children and families, economic security, the environment, healthy lives and housing.

In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of Newport County residents, including Anne Sage, Jack Ellis, John Trifero, Kristen Humphrey, Sally Schott and Victoria Johnson.

Established in 2002, the NCF has awarded more than $3.8 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. The NCF is one of one of several committee-advised funds at the Foundation established to fulfill the desire of donors and serving specific issues or geographic areas.

The announcement took place at Child & Family Services, which received $10,000 to expand its Friendly Visitor program to incorporate additional transportation options for homebound seniors. The program offers home-based and outpatient behavioral health treatment, caregiver support groups, protective services for older victims of crime and well-being checks for seniors who are suspected of suffering from self-neglect. The nonprofit expects to serve hundreds of elderly Newport County residents through this program.

“The program is designed to help alleviate the loneliness and isolation experienced by older adults living in Newport County who have retired from jobs, have lost friends and family members and have physical limitations that limit their ability to leave the home,” said Marty Sinnott, president and CEO.




Among the other nonprofit organizations receiving grants are:

Baby Steps in Newport received $7,500 to support its monthly educational programs and enrichment activities for families with children ages birth to 36 months. These programs are based on professionally developed curriculum, promoted through community outreach and collaboration and supported by a cadre of volunteers. The goal is to promote the involvement of parents and children in the educational and enrichment programs.

"Baby Steps assists parents, with children under age three, in developing teaching and parenting skills that can enhance a child's learning and social skills," said Linda Finn who chairs the organization's board. "Early development of learning and social skills can improve a child's education experience during the crucial formative years of kindergarten through grade three. Baby Steps is a partnership with parents and children."

The Best Buddies Newport County Friendship Project received $2,000 to support its Newport School Friendship Project for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IOD) at Salve Regina University and Rogers High School.

“Over the coming year, we will recruit, train and guide student leaders in running successful chapters on their campuses. At the beginning of the school year, student leaders will recruit high school and college peer buddies, to be matched in a mentoring friendship with a peer or an adult from the community with IDD,” said Matthew Netto, state director.

Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $7,500 to support its Aquidneck Island Experiential Environmental Education initiative through classroom education, field work and student-led outreach

“We aim to educate, inspire, and empower the children of Aquidneck Island to become environmental stewards, via a hands-on problem-based initiative to develop student awareness, sensitivity, understanding of their affective relationship to the natural environment, and how to manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably,” said David McLaughlin, executive director.

Common Fence Music in Middletown received $10,000 for its Connecting the Beats program, which brings African and Afro-Caribbean drumming and dance to the youth of Newport County through collaborations with local youth organizations and schools, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County, the East Bay Met School in Newport; Rogers High, Thompson Middle and Pell Elementary schools in Newport, Melrose School in Jamestown, Gaudet Middle School in Middletown, Portsmouth Middle School and the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s summer camps.

“Connecting the Beats will begin its eighth season of participatory concert and workshop offerings for young people throughout Newport County. Our program offers musical training and cross-cultural education in a cooperative setting and is enthusiastically embraced by parents and teachers as well as the students themselves,” said Thomas Perrotti, the organization’s musical director.

The Common Fence Point Improvement Association received $5,000 to purchase movable partitions for the new Gallery at Common Fence Point, which is located in the Common Fence Community Center.

“This is a unique and moving art experience for the Portsmouth community and its neighbors. The partitions will enable us to create classrooms and double our art programming capacity,” said Conley Zani, chair and development director.

Day One in Middletown received $10,000 to support the provision of evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse. More than 250 Newport County residents are expected to be served through the programs.

“The assistance will help us provide critical advocacy and treatment for sexual abuse victims, and expand prevention education to help end sexual violence in Newport County,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport received $10,000 to expand the number of free health and wellness program it offers. The nonprofit expects to serve 2,800 people in Newport County.

“Many of our families represent the working poor. They are employed but not earning enough to keep up with rising housing, heating and food costs. Ensuring that low-income people have access to healthy food, nutrition education, and wellness classes can help reduce health risks such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Marilyn Warren, executive director. 

The East Bay Community Action Program of Newport received $9,660 to support its Certified Nursing Assistant training program for 15 students at the Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center.

“The goal is to train and prepare residents who are low-skilled and unemployed or underemployed for an entry level position in health care and assist them with employment once training is complete. The program provides soft skills training, C.N.A. technical skills training, clinical experience, case management support, job search skills and employment referrals,” said Susan Schenck, vice president and COO.

Friends of Ballard Park in Newport received $5,000 to support its field trip program. More than 700 children are expected to participate in the organization’s Environmental Explorations Program, which includes trips to visit the 13-acre nature preserve to participate in hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that correspond with academic subjects like geology, habitats, insects, ecosystems and animals that they are learning about in school or home school.

“Over the summer, we collaborate with organizations like the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the YMCA to offer programs that take on the 'summer learning slump,' promote socialization and keep children active,” said Colleen McGrath, executive director. “The youngsters quickly become taken by the natural environment and delight in catching insects, seeing ducks swim in the vernal pond or learning about why spiders make webs.”

The Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England received $5,000 for its Urban Outreach program, which introduces at-risk girls in grades K-8 from lower-income, Newport County neighborhoods to the benefits of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

“This helps girls discover their personal best and prepare for the future. They gain self-confidence and new skills, and that has a positive impact on them as well as their community,” said Jill Martens, manager, fund development.

FabNewport received $7,500 to train 10 volunteers from diverse backgrounds as lab coaches in order to expand the number of days each week the lab is open.

“It is essential for trained coaches to be available to assist students of all ages with the lab equipment and materials, and also to provide encouragement. This will lead to increased staff for the emerging maker space, fab labs, and after-school programs,” said Steve Heath, executive director.

Friends of Jamestown Seniors received $3,500 to refinish the floor and install a stage curtain at the Grange Hall, where the organization hosts a variety of activities older residents. It will be the first time the floor has been refinished since the building was built in 1926.

“The stage curtain will help us control heat loss when the Hall is in use. The stage area is completely open to the Hall and draws considerable heat from the room making it uncomfortable for seniors attending exercise programs and other events. Both of these projects would add greatly to the esthetics of the facility,” said Ellie Chase, vice president.

The Jamestown Arts Center received $4,000 to support the Heifetz on Tour Residency Program. Now in its fourth year, the program brings young, world-class classical musicians to Newport County and provides unique educational and artistic opportunities for residents.

“This will help us provide the necessary transportation, housing and stipends for the musicians and will allow us to continue this truly remarkable program,” said Lisa Utman Randall, executive director.

The Katie Brown Educational Program received $6,500 to provide to relationship violence prevention education to Portsmouth and Tiverton middle school students as well as youngsters from the Newport County YMCA.

“Teen dating violence is a very real, dangerous problem, and it requires real solutions. It is essential that solutions are multifaceted, long-term, comprehensive, and supported by the community. We believe education is the channel for this important work,” said Claire McVicker, executive director. “Students can pick up the life skills necessary to recognize the presence or potential presence of violence in relationships, to create safe, respectful and healthy relationships; and to choose alternatives to violent behaviors.”

Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown received $10,000 to support residential counselor personnel for the on-site emergency shelter and transitional housing. Last year, the organization served 24 women and 43 children in its on-site emergency shelter and transitional housing program. An additional 12 women and their children were sheltered in the off-site transitional housing program.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to lasting effects due to homelessness. Thus, providing quality emergency shelter and trauma-focused support services for homeless Rhode Island children is critical in preventing adverse health, social, mental health and academic outcomes later in life,” said Jennifer Barrera, program director.

The Middletown Historical Society received $1,900 to support its Golden Rule Days initiative. Fourth-graders at Aquidneck and Forrest Avenue elementary schools will visit the circa-1892 Witherbee School to experience what learning in a one-room schoolhouse was like at the turn of the century. The funds will cover the cost of transportation.

“We’ll provide a rich education by covering this history of our town’s growth, along with family and school life at the turn of the century,” said Mary Dennis, vice president. “The project highlights Middletown's physical expansion and economic changes and growth proceeding through the years, not as some isolated phenomenon but as part of a developing state and nation.”

The Newport Community School received $10,000 to continue implementing its summer learning programs, including Grade Transition Programs. Offered after grades 5, 8 and 11, the initiative alleviates student anxiety, encourages grade readiness and provides initial academic preparedness for the new grade level and aids academic performance and extended learning summer programming.

“Our summer learning initiatives produce measurable gains in stemming summer learning loss, assisting students in attaining new skills or catching up to grade-level by working over the summer months and preparing them for important grade transitions between fifth grade and post-secondary education,” said Tracy Shea, executive director. “These initiatives are intended to not only boost students' core literacy and numeracy skills, but also to ensure they have the tools they need to be academically successful as they move through school.”

The Newport County YMCA in Middletown received $4,000 to help reduce childhood obesity throughout Newport County. The "Prescribe the Y" program offers 12-week classes targeting youngsters ages 6-16 with 12 weeks of comprehensive physical fitness and nutrition education programming.

“The goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of children at risk of obesity through custom physical fitness activities and nutrition education. The benefits even extend to each child’s family through inclusion in our Family Dinners program, which focuses on healthy meal planning,” said Mike Miller, CEO. “Every participating family will also receive a free, one-year membership to the Y so everyone can continue to benefit from ongoing health and fitness programs.”

The Newport Partnership for Families received $5,000 to support educational enrichment activities for Newport students during the summer vacation in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

“During summer vacation, many students find themselves without access to mind stimulating activities and by end of the summer, many students perform, on average, one month behind from where they left off in the spring,” said Sharon Carter, director. “Reducing ‘summer slide’ by helping students maintain their literacy skills will enable them to begin the academic year ready to learn with equivalent or improved literacy skills.”

The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown received $10,000 to expand its educational programing for Newport and Middletown 2nd- and 3rd-graders to Portsmouth and Tiverton.

“The grade-wide outreach programs at schools, combined with field trips to the Sanctuary, will provide a high-dosage learning experience with multiple hours of programming that allow for in-depth presentation of concepts, repetition of STEM themes and the introduction of new concepts that build on previous learning experiences. All programs are experiential and inquiry-based, engaging children with the natural world in fun, hands-on learning activities,” said Rachel Holbert, education director.

The R.I. Chapter of the American Red Cross received $10,000 to provide disaster relief and disaster preparedness education in Newport County. The work ranges providing emergency services such as shelter to people affected by disasters to testing and installing smoke alarms in local homes.

“The main goal of our Disaster Cycle Services Program is to build resilient communities in partnership with state and local emergency management and community partners,” said Elizabeth McDonald, senior director of emergency services.

Rhode Island Black Storytellers received $5,500 to present storytelling programs, including performances for community and family audiences and a workshop for parents, teachers, librarians and others.

The Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership received $10,000 to support mentoring activities for approximately 135 children in Newport and Middletown public schools. 

“We’ll work to retain existing mentors, recruit new mentors to account for attrition, strengthen program practices through revised and additional mentor trainings, and build on our program assessment process. We believe we can maintain the number of children served through the program and ensure that each child experiences the quality mentoring relationship they need and deserve,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO.

The Salvation Army in Newport received $6,000 to provide up to 40 children a week with an exercise and nutrition program. During 16-week, fall and spring programs, participants will learn to integrate a healthy diet and exercise into their lives and improve their fitness levels under the guidance of a professional sports activity instructor.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Joseph’s Conference of Newport, received $7,500 to provide financial assistance to individuals and families facing emergencies including eviction, utility shut-offs, lack of home heating oil, need of prescription drugs and clothing.

“We receive referrals for financial assistance from Newport Housing Hotline, McKinney Homeless Shelter and Halfway House, Newport Mental Health, Newport Housing Authority, East Bay Community Action, Seamen's Institute, Red Cross and the community at large,” said Richard Turcotte, treasurer of the St. Joseph's Conference of the St. Vincent DePaul Society in Newport, which helped hundreds of households last year.

The Star Kids Scholarship Program of Middletown received $5,000 to support academic tutoring, mentoring, summer camp and after-school programs for Newport County students who have the ability to be successful in school, but may not have the support system at home to help with homework and projects.

“The grant funds will be used to provide structured, healthy, engaging and supervised out-of-school activities for at-risk students to help improve their skills socially, emotionally, physically and academically. Such academic support will assist our children in being successful within their competitive school environments, with the overall goal of graduating from high school,” said Kathy Stark, executive director.

Trinity Episcopal Church of Newport received $5,000 for its Community Meal Program, which serves complete, hot, and nutritious meals on the first, fourth and fifth Mondays of each month to anyone who needs one. In 2016, the program served more than 2,200 meals.

“Everyone is a volunteer and our meal site is open to all. Our diners include the homeless, working poor, young families and the elderly on fixed incomes. In short, we offer direct aid to the needy of Newport and Aquidneck Island in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner,” said Jeffrey Greene, community meal program chair.

Up with School Arts in Little Compton received $3,000 to support its Joy Around US program, which includes a summer string camp for students from Little Compton, Middletown and Tiverton.

“These programs address a particular need to create a more informed citizenry by providing opportunities for children to deepen their knowledge bank through an appreciation and understanding, oftentimes unfamiliar, of music, art and drama; knowledge that can create a more able adult,” said Lillian Edwards, president.

Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties in Portsmouth received $5,000 for staff and leadership development and training, particularly related to working with patients with behavioral health conditions such as depression and dementia as well as chronic medical disorders.

“Training that builds a culture of continuous learning and positive support coupled with accountability and expectations of excellence will directly benefit our patients and caregivers as well as staff,” said Candace Sharkey, CEO. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to collaborate with Newport County Mental Health in providing joint training.”

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 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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