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Offering grants to serve the Black community
By Chris Barnett / August 22, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

Nonprofits serving Rhode Island’s Black community have until Sept. 15 to apply for nearly $90,000 in grants through the new Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. 

“Our intent is to attract interest and applications from organizations that focus on the unique needs of the Black community in Rhode Island, including those organizations that have a tradition of serving the community,” said Adrian Bonéy, the Foundation’s program officer for special programs. 
 
The grant program has two areas of focus:

First, grants to community-based organizations that provide youth development and mentoring opportunities to urban 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.

Second, grants to Black, community-based organizations that support and promote the history and achievements of Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the Black community and strive to uplift low-income Black Rhode Islanders.

This will be the first round of grants awarded since the fund was created last year by the merger of the Foundation’s former Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI) and the board of the former Bannister House nursing home in Providence, which was originally created to serve retired African-American domestic workers.

“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.

Bannister’s board voted to partner with BPI, which was established at the Foundation in 2007 to address issues affecting Black Rhode Islanders. 
 
“Since Day One, our goal was 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, the former co-chair of BPI’s advisory committee. 
 
The combined assets of the Bannister organization and BPI created the new $2.5 million fund at the Foundation.

“BPI 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 worked with Bannister and BPI on their merger.

In addition to the grant program, the Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund offers scholarship assistance for 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. 
 
The new fund is guided by an advisory committee comprised of BPI’s former leadership – Linda Newton, Edward Clifton, Jason Fowler, Beverly Ledbetter and Walter Stone – and Brendan Kane, of Bannister’s former board.

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