This is what's next

Tom Ahern and Simone Joyaux

Tom Ahern and Simone Joyaux,Donors and community members

For the Rhode Island Foundation. On the occasion of its 100th birthday.

Dear Rhode Island.

This is what’s next, we fear.
More of the same.

An economy that stumbles too often. Troubled public education. Imprisoned elected officials. Insufficient capacity and capability of so many important nonprofits. Injustice – whether gender, race, sexual orientation, class, or …

Sure. This is true everywhere in the United States.

But Rhode Island is so small. We could actually be a model for fixing seemingly unfixable issues.

And that makes us think of our community foundation. The Rhode Island Foundation. Now 100 years old.

We’ve left 70% of our estate to the Rhode Island Foundation. Why? 

Because we believe that the community’s foundation, should, and must provide leadership and partnership to address these kinds of issues.

This is what’s next, we hope.
Leadership and courage from our community’s foundation. 

Things like: Advocacy and political action…like HousingWorks and the glorious bonds that effort generated for affordable housing. Building the capacity and capability of Rhode Island’s nonprofit sector…like the Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence. Justice like Equity Action.

Our community foundation bringing together diverse players to plot for change. Of course all plots won’t succeed. But trying hard does matter.

This is what’s next, we hope.
As a small state, Rhode Island can be an incubator and test market for change.

We imagine leadership from our state’s institutions, leaders who identify challenges and challenge the status quo. We expect a willingness to take risks and make change. Avoid parochialism. Work on the big problems and fight for the hardest changes. Be creative and make people uncomfortable.

What’s next? We hope this is what’s next.
Rhode Island’s people will be ever vigilant, paying attention to challenges and opportunities. Governments will avoid the all-too- typical dysfunction and act for the good of their communities and citizens, both legal and illegal.

We expect the nonprofit sector to grow stronger and provide the aggressive leadership necessary to fight for a better democracy. We know that nonprofit organizations often develop and deliver better solutions than government or for-profits. We expect nonprofits to confront the other two sectors.

And then there are donors. Donors invest time and money. Donors fulfill their own aspirations by giving through nonprofits.

Some donors dream of gender equity and an end to racism and poverty. Some seek education for all. Others fight for the environment. Or more theatre, both cutting edge and just plain fun. A cure for cancer. Better healthcare.

This is what’s next, we hope.
A stronger world of donors and nonprofits. More effective nonprofits. That’s what will help Rhode Island be stronger and better and fairer.

What’s next?
Another hundred years for our community foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation. A place where the community foundation thrives because of donors. A place where the community foundation challenges Rhode Island and its people and institutions and government.


One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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