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Foundation awards nearly $270,000 to Newport County nonprofits
By Chris Barnett / June 20, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $270,000 to nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents.

The grants, through the Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF), will underwrite a host of activities ranging from workforce training and after-school activities to preventing relationship violence and protecting vulnerable seniors.

“From enriching arts and educational opportunities for young people to underwriting critical health and job readiness programs, we are grateful to work with partners that are improving lives here in Newport County,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We thank the donors who make these partnerships possible.”

The NCF offered grants of up to $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 residents from every community in Newport County.

Established in 2002, the NCF has awarded more than $4 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, which received $6,000 to support its Newport County Seniors Information and Referral Assistance Program. The nonprofit expects to serve hundreds of elderly Newport County residents through this program.

“We guide every client through the often confusing process of obtaining health insurance and other benefits they need. The goal is to provide our senior community members with the resources they need to remain independent, healthy and safe,” said Marty Sinnott, president and CEO. 

According to Child & Family Services, more than 20 percent of Newport County residents are age 65 or older. More than 50 percent of Newport’s older adults are single and a large percentage live alone, the agency reports.

“We want elders and their caregivers to fully understand and take advantage of their options for health insurance, disability insurance, housing support, transportation solutions and other state- and community-based resources,” he said.

Aquidneck Community Table received $6,400 to hire staff, engage two local farmers to sell fresh produce, and organize community groups and activities at the new North Side Community Market at the Florence Gray Center this summer.

 “Because this is Newport’s most food-insecure neighborhood, our focus is on providing residents affordable access to healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, and at the same time we’re building community by giving people a place to get to know each other as they shop,” said Bevan Linsley, executive director.

The Best Buddies Newport County Friendship Project received $2,000 to expand its Newport School Friendship Project for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IOD) to the Paul W. Crowley East Bay Met School in Newport.

“We’ll match students with and without IDD in one-to-one friendships. This will improve the quality of life and level of inclusion for kids that often feel isolated and excluded,” said Heidi Kalinkowski, area director for Rhode Island.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County (BGCNC) received $10,000 to expand its Essential Skills Program for underserved and at-risk youth to include 9th-grade classes at Rogers High School and launch a pilot program for twenty-five 10th-grade students at Middletown High School.

“The program incorporates key skills like critical thinking and problem solving. The goal is to prepare youngsters for successful futures through career readiness activities and employment-based training,” said Joseph P. Pratt, executive director/CEO.

The Choir School of Newport County received $5,000 to enable the organization to recruit and retain 10 students from disadvantaged backgrounds for its Professional Choristers division. The grant will enable the school to provide piano lessons and loan participants high quality pianos for home use during a four-month pilot program.

“Having access to high quality piano instruction and practice pianos attracts the desired students and supplements and reinforces the choral curriculum while instilling the habits necessary for successful full-term retention to have the intended influence on a child's intellectual curiosity, intellectual development and self-motivated schedule and life habits,” said Peter Berton, founding executive director.

Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $5,000 to support its “Blue Access for All” project, which promotes healthy lifestyles by connecting under-served Middletown and Newport youth by connecting them with the Newport harbor waterfront, Cliff Walk and surrounding shorelines.
“Our hope is children will develop an active lifestyle with an improved sense of being happier, healthier and more connected to our natural environment,” said Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director. “Whether it is exploring for fun, doing fieldwork for science or participating in an art project, these activities combine healthy living, education and enjoyment in a way that will tap everyone’s curiosity and bring about a sense of hope.”

College Unbound received $9,400 to provide intensive, wrap-around services to put 20 students whose post-secondary education was interrupted due to major barriers back on the path to earning a bachelor’s degree. The services include weekly tutorial sessions, Learning Lab technical support, access to laptop computers and the cost of textbooks.

“We’ll give non-traditional students the resources, support and encouragement they need to overcome the challenges they face,” said Dennis Littky, president.

Common Fence Music in Middletown received $5,800 to fund six concerts by 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.
“Music encourages cross-cultural communication and understanding. Music takes students into an integrated, transcendent experience. The health and wellness effect is always present without fail,” said Thomas Perrotti, the organization’s education director.

The Community Housing Resource Board in Newport received $10,000 to support the work of the organization’s Housing Hotline coordinator, who works with clients, coordinates assistance from local agencies, promotes fair housing and arranges temporary housing for families and individuals in crisis. Last year, the organization served nearly 6,300 people.

“Our goal is to help people in need in our community reach a level of independence and self-sufficiency while also assisting them to ensure they have fair, safe and affordable housing,” said Jimmy Winters, executive director.

Community MusicWorks received $5,000 to expand the number of children participating in its Newport String Project, an after-school strings program and professional chamber music series serving children and families throughout Newport County.  

“We will stage imaginative and challenging musical experiences for children and their families that will build self-confidence and leadership and strengthen the community,” said Sabastian Ruth, founder and artistic director.

The Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation received $3,200 to support its Build-a-Boat and Drifter programs at Melrose and Lawn elementary schools. More than 100 students are expected to participate in the programs.

“Building boats and drifters helps to teach abstract concepts in a fun, engaging way. Through education about our marine environment and providing positive experiences in nature, we hope to develop the next generation of ocean and environmental stewards,” said Meg Myles, executive director.

Cornerstone Adult Services, a member of Saint Elizabeth Community, received $7,580 to support its Engaging Senior through Art program. A Certified Music Therapist will work weekly with 25 people with memory loss at the Little Compton Wellness Center. 

“Music therapy is proven to promote wellness, manage stress, anxiety and agitation; alleviate pain, lessen the need for medication and improve memory and recall. We’ll give caregivers the resources to incorporate music in their daily support of loved ones experiencing memory loss,” said Dottie Santagata, administrator.

Day One in Middletown received $10,000 to provide evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse. Specifically, grant funds will support programming to more than 250 Newport County child victims of sexual abuse and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) through the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC).
“This assistance will help us provide crucial 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 support the academic success of students in its after-school and summer camp programs, which serve students from all over Newport County. With only 4 percent of participants living above the federal poverty line, the enrichment programs are designed to level the playing field for the children the organization serves.

"We will provide more than 100 children with physical fitness programs, music, theater, nutrition education and homework assistance throughout the school year. Engaging experiential learning opportunities stem the summer learning slide in our 8-week Summer Adventure Camp," said Marilyn Warren, executive director.

The East Bay Community Action Program received $5,175 to support training programs at the East Bay Skills Alliance for low-skilled and unemployed or underemployed residents of Newport.

“We’ll train and prepare participants for an entry level position in health care, education or the hospitality industry and help them find work once training is complete. They will receive soft skills training, technical skills training, on-the-job experience, case management support, job search skills employment referrals,” said Dennis Roy, president and CEO.

FabNewport received $8,000 to launch a program that will give underserved youth in the city’s North End the opportunity to develop appreciation for design, making and creativity through a series of eight themed workshops and field trips. The program will end with a showcase of student work at the Florence Gray Center.

“Every workshop will have an art-based theme that will connect with the field trip. Our students often come from backgrounds in which the odds are against them. We believe these kinds of experience will grow their confidence and independence,” said Heath.

Friends of Ballard Park in Newport received $3,000 to support its summer field trip program. Approximately 250 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.

“Over the summer, we collaborate with organizations like the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the YMCA to offer programs that address 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 $7,000 for its Community Outreach and Extended Learning programs, which introduce girls 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 Pam Hyland, chief executive.

The James L. Maher Center, a developmental disability provider in Middletown received $10,000 to support the development of a recreation program assistant who will offer recreational opportunities for participants to attend community events and outings. This new position will enable us to expand services beyond the current 30-hour-a-week day program offerings.

“These funds will provide an additional layer of opportunities for our participants to engage in a wider range of community activities.”  Rose Morton, Executive Director.

The Jamestown Arts Center received $5,000 to support the Heifetz on Tour Residency Program, which will bring chamber music to the public through free outreach programming in the public schools, visits to senior centers and agencies serving adults with developmental disabilities, and concerts.
“With engagement with classical music at a 10-year decline, it is more important than ever to provide young and underserved audiences access to live music in order to engage, enrich and inspire,” said Lisa Utman Randall, executive director.

The Katie Brown Educational Program received $6,500 to provide to relationship violence prevention education to Tiverton Middle School and Tiverton High 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. 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. We aim to make them champions for the cause in their schools,” said Claire McVicker, executive director.

Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown received $10,000 to support the work of residential counselors for its on-site emergency shelter and transitional housing. Since July 2017, the organization has served 39 parents and 73 children in its on-site emergency shelter and transitional housing program. An additional 12 adults with 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 children experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island is critical in preventing adverse health, social, mental health and academic outcomes later in life,” said Jennifer Barrera, program director.

Meals on Wheels received $3,000 to provide home-delivered meals to Newport County seniors. The organization expects to serve at least 188 elderly or homebound adults.

 “This addresses the need for vulnerable individuals to receive complete daily meals and safety checks. Our program is a lifeline for Rhode Islanders who are in danger of missing a meal or experiencing health and safety issues due to isolation, frailty or poverty,” said Heather Amaral, executive director.

The Newport County YMCA in Middletown received $6,000 to work with the Newport Community Mental Health Center to train staff to recognize and respond to signs of a mental health crisis and to offer programs that reduce the soc8la stigma around mental health. The YMCA estimates it serves about 7,000 adults and 3,000 children a year.

 “We want to create a safe and nurturing environment for those in our community who may be struggling with mental health concerns. It is our hope that we can develop a program that serves as a model for YMCAs nationwide,” said Mike Miller, CEO. 

The Newport Gulls received $2,250 to send 30 underprivileged children to attend its summer camps with players and coaches in Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth. The Gulls will work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport and the Newport Little League to identify needy children age 6 to 12 that come from families experiencing financial hardship.

“The goal is to keep students active during the summer months while school is not in session develop habits that will last after the completion of camp. Our camps give children a way to stay on the ‘right’ path until they return to school in the fall,” said Chuck Paiva, president and CEO.

The Newport Music Festival received $6,000 to support a suite of new musical programs and concerts, including a free summer concert series in partnership with the Newport Art Museum and a free Fourth of July performance by Boston Brass at King Park in Newport that will coincide with the city’s fireworks display. The Festival will also bring a musical performance by Grammy-nominated Imani Winds to children at Newport's MLK Center.

 “The scope of this musical programming signals the start of a new era of greater access and inclusion for us. These performances are intended to broaden, deepen and diversify community participation,” said Pamela Pantos, executive director.

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.”

Newport Working Cities received $10,000 to cultivate a data system which will allow Newporters to connect with necessary resources across the City to break the barriers of poverty and maintain long-term employment.  A shared data system will support efforts to increase opportunities that prepare local teens for careers, identify local policies that hinder employment and fill gaps in local training and employment opportunities for teens and adults. Newport Working Cities is a coalition of local organizations that have joined together to reduce poverty in Newport.

 “This grant enables partners to make informed decisions and collaborate on the steps necessary to share data, streamline practices, increase efficiencies and reduce duplication of services,” said Kathryn Cantwell, Initiative Director. “Working effectively collaboratively over a sustained period of time will enable us to achieve a collective impact that no single organization would achieve on its own."

Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown received $10,000 to continue its educational programing for Portsmouth and Tiverton elementary school children. Modeled on the organization’s long-time program for Middletown and Newport students, the program served approximately 600 students following its launch last year.

“This initiative instills a love of nature and appreciation for the fun and excitement that science and nature can provide, positioning children for more complex concepts as they begin a years-long process of formal science education,” said Natasha Harrison, executive director.

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

“People will be exposed to and inspired to do storytelling themselves. This will create more understanding of the importance of storytelling and its value for both cultural literacy and family engagement,” said Valerie Tutson,  executive director.

The Rhode Island Middle Passage Medallion Program received $5,000 to install medallions at sites related to the history of slavery in Newport County.

“We will mark the places where stories of enslaved people unfolded. This will make the broader story of the business of slavery accessible to students, residents and tourist by creating new education opportunities and greater public awareness,” said Charles Roberts, chairman.

Special Olympics Rhode Island received $5,000 to support its 2019 East Bay Area Games at Salve Regina University in Middletown. The event involves more than local 225 athletes and hundreds of local volunteers.

“The East Bay Area Games is a celebration of acceptance, inclusion and respect for the athletes of Special Olympics Rhode Island. It is an opportunity to showcase their athletic talents while displaying the principles of camaraderie, teamwork and sportsmanship,” said Dennis DeJesus, CEO. “Special thanks to Salve Regina University - the students, faculty and staff - for their unwavering support.”

The Star Kids Scholarship Program of Middletown received $5,000 to help more than 80 at-risk Newport County children with academic tutoring, mentoring, and summer camp and after-school programs. The assistance provides students who come from disadvantaged home environments with the tools and activities to succeed in school and beyond. 

“These funds will enable our Star Kids to participate in structured, healthy, engaging and supervised out-of-school activities to help improve their skills socially, emotionally, physically and academically. Such academic support will assist our children in being successful within their school environments, with the overall goal of graduating from high school,” said Kathy Stark, executive director.

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 the McKinney Shelter and Transitional Housing, Community Housing Resource Board of Newport County, East Bay Community Action, United Way, Newport County Mental Health, Seamen's Church Institute, Red Cross and the community at large,” said Denice Burgess, president of the organization, which helped more than 400 households last year.

The Tiverton Prevention Coalition received $10,000 to expand its partnership with local faith-based organizations to reduce substance abuse rates among Newport County youth. The work will include developing a faith-based prevention tool kit, staging a faith-related prevention symposium and recruiting faith sector leaders for Little Compton and Newport coalitions.

“We cannot treat or arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic facing our region. We must engage partners in a strategic approach to prevention education by increasing awareness and building capacity,” said Rebecca Elwell, executive director.

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.

The Washington Square Services Corp. in Newport received $10,000 to provide intensive case management services to homeless men and women at the McKinney Cooperative Shelter. The shelter served 130 individuals over the course of 2017.
“The lack of affordable housing is challenging for many Newport County residents. Addressing the needs of this population and helping them transition from homelessness to permanent housing is vitally important,” said Deborah Johnston, executive director.

The Women’s Resource Center of Newport County received $9,950 to support the continued development of the North End Leaders Project. This year’s projects include recruiting two additional North End residents interested in servicing on a city board of commission and supporting the development of a North End Neighborhood Association.

“We are very excited to be able to continue to engage the residents of the North End in building their community and encouraging them to become involved in the life of their neighborhood and their city,” said Lori DiPersio, executive director.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org


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