Taking rhetoric to action

The call to action, “Well done is better than well said,” is attributed to American statesman, inventor, and diplomat Benjamin Franklin. This idea that taking rhetoric to action is powerful and necessary is one that resonates with us at the Rhode Island Foundation. 

By the fall of 2012, Rhode Island’s persistent economic struggles had taken a significant toll on our state, not only in what we could easily see – high unemployment, falling wages, business closings – but also on our sense of possibility and hopefulness for the future. It was at this point that the Foundation felt a need to take action in an arena in which it had not previously played much of a role – the state’s economy. The resulting event – Make It Happen RI – brought more than 300 private and public sector leaders together at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The principles that drove this gathering were simple and clear: 1) Be positive; and 2) Take rhetoric to action. 

Since then, we have invested more than $3 million in research, grants, and activities that focus on identifying barriers to economic growth, and systematically working to address them – across sectors, industries, and agencies. The powerful recognition that we – as Rhode Islanders working together – can solve Rhode Island’s challenges – has had a ripple effect throughout the state. 

Make It Happen catalyzed our industry and civic leaders to take action and to work together in new ways. Private and public sector leaders across the state have risen to this challenge. New partnerships, new plans, and new opportunities have developed from the seeds planted back at the Convention Center. 

We know that the funding we are able to invest in our state is vital but not sufficient to accomplish our ambitious goals. Inspiring creative thinking, offering a structure for people to come together, and helping to elevate the level of public dialogue are all activities that we consider to be part of how we demonstrate leadership as a community foundation.   



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Providence, RI 02903


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