Lead, Transform, Inspire

Founded in 1916, the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the nation's oldest and largest community foundations. We are Rhode Island's only community foundation and the largest funder of Rhode Island's nonprofit sector.

Jesse H. Metcalf
Jesse H. Metcalf

The Foundation was organized at the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Co. in June 1916 by a small group of prominent citizens. It was modeled after the first community foundation established in Cleveland two years earlier. "There is a growing belief that the charitable problems of each generation can better be, and should be, solved by the best minds of each generation," the founders wrote.

Jesse H. Metcalf, an industrialist and United States Senator, gave the Foundation its first gift of $10,000. Metcalf was a dominant influence in the development of American textiles and a well-known philanthropist and statesman.

In 2016, the Foundation celebrated its centennial by honoring the people, places, and traditions that make Rhode Island special. Learn more at What Makes A Community?. At year’s end, we looked back on many of the year’s signature events, community-building activities, and investments in Rhode Island, including the campaign to restore and preserve Roger Williams Park. See 2016 Celebrating Community.

In 2018, the Foundation awarded $52 million in grants to more than 1,900 nonprofit organizations, and we continued our commitment to address the state's most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities.

Our Mission

The Rhode Island Foundation is a proactive community and philanthropic leader dedicated to meeting the needs of the people of Rhode Island.

To advance our mission we work with many partners to:

  • Actively inspire philanthropy and increase permanent resources for the state of Rhode Island
  • Invest in important community programs through grants
  • Provide leadership and a forum for dialogue on critical community issues


LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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