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$400,000 for community-building projects
By Chris Barnett / August 2, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

Neighborhood-based projects across the state will receive more than $400,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation through its Community Grants program. The work will range from creating community gardens in Warwick and Westerly to expanding playgrounds in Cranston and Woonsocket.

“Our grants will produce places to gather, create friendships and inspire new collaborations that will build community connections all over our state,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.  ”Initiatives like this are only possible due to the vision of those who came before us, the donors who generously invest in Rhode Island and the nonprofits that convert those resources into action.”

The Foundation is funding 47 projects in 25 cities and towns. The maximum grant was $10,000. Most of the work is expected to be underway before the end of the year.

“We’re excited about these ideas for making community happen in more and better ways at the local level. Supporting community-building will improve shared places and quality of life, promote collaboration and increase community engagement,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments, who oversees the program.

The City of Cranston received $10,000 to renovate the Eden Park Elementary School playground. Additional support comes from the city’s parks and school departments and the school’s the Parent Teacher Organization. The work will include new play surfaces and playground equipment.

“Our main priority is the kids of this community. Giving them and their families a place to play, build relationships and develop friendships will enhance the quality of life in this neighborhood and our city,” said Tony Liberatore, recreation department director.

Connecting Children and Families in Woonsocket received $10,000 to restore the playground at Stan “the Bulldog” Eason Park in Constitution Hill as an outdoor play and learning space for children. The grant will fund playground safe fiber surfacing and additional improvements to promote gross motor play and accessibility.

“We are excited for this opportunity to bring new life and beauty to our neighborhood,” said Terese Curtin, executive director. “This outdoor play and learning space will be utilized not only by our programs, but by our whole community.”

The House of Hope Community Development Corporation in Warwick received $9,460 to rebuild the deteriorating fence around its Shippen Avenue community garden and to install a new community garden at its most recent affordable housing development on Fair Street.

“Community gardens engage residents through Master Gardner workshops and demonstrations. They also forge connections with the surrounding community, dispel myths about homelessness and teach residents how to grow healthy food and enjoy the therapeutic qualities of the garden,” said Laura Jaworski, executive director.

The Westerly Land Trust received $10,000 to convert a vacant lot on Main Street into a outdoor community space. The work will include creating an garden area planted with native wildflowers and pollinator species as well as installing signage and educational materials to make the garden an effective educational tool for the community.

“This is helping to bring our vision of urban green space to life. We see an opportunity to bring our conservation work to Main Street, and to provide a vibrant space for education, reflection and community interaction,” said Jennifer Fusco, executive director.

In addition to playgrounds and community gardens, the projects include installing historical markers documenting the history of slavery in Newport, building Little Free Libraries in Central Falls and improvements to Riverwalk in Providence. Descriptions of all 47 projects are posted on the Foundation's website.

The Community Grant projects were funded in part through a generous gift from long-time Foundation donor Anne Sage.

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.

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