Strategic Initiative Grants

Strategic Initiative Grants support programs that align with our strategic priorities - economic security, educational success, and healthy lives.

What we fund

Strategic Initiative Grants are awarded for work that will advance our three strategic priorities, and ultimately that will promote prosperity, productivity, and quality of life for all Rhode Islanders. 

For each strategic priority, we have developed a set of impact targets, strategies, and activities that we believe our available grant resources can most effectively address.

  • Economic Security: our economic security investments are aimed at long term, demonstrable improvements in household financial stability and household wealth. We will work to reduce disparities in these measures and will focus on three specific strategies in economic security - effective workforce development, small business growth, and high opportunity clusters.
  • Educational Success: our educational success investments are aimed at long-term improvements in student outcomes, the quality of educational environments, and coordination within and across the sector.  We will work to reduce disparities in these outcomes and will focus on three specific strategies in educational success - improved student learning experiences, strengthened educator capacity and leadership, improved coordination within and across the sector.
  • Healthy Lives: our health investments are aimed at improving health outcomes for Rhode Islanders, providing better care, and lowering costs. We seek health equity across race, ethnicity, income, and geography. To get there we will focus on three strategies - increased primary care access, utilization, and quality, expanded alternative care models and collaborations to address the social determinants of health, and promoting system reform that is consistent with improving patient experience, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare. 

We make Strategic Initiative Grants for program support, organizational development and capacity building efforts, and advocacy or systems reform initiatives. We provide general operating support to organizations that are central to progress in one or more of the three strategic priorities described above. Typically, consideration of funding for general operating support is by invitation only. 

What we don't fund

Strategy Initiative Grants are awarded for charitable purposes primarily to nonprofit organizations or public entities. The Foundation does not fund individuals or capital projects. We rarely commit to multi-year grant awards.

The Rhode Island Foundation believes that our community can best be served by charitable organizations that both reflect and serve the diversity of our community. We do not award grants to applicants or for programs that have a policy that discriminates against any person or group in any way that is either unlawful or inconsistent with the mission or values of the Foundation.


We review your application according to the following criteria:

  1. Alignment: Your proposal aligns well with our strategic priorities and the specific outcomes and strategies we’re focusing on.
  2. Potential impact: You have articulated measurable outcomes and demonstrated an organizational commitment to learning.
  3. Implementation plan: You have presented a convincing workplan, timeline, budget, and evaluation plan for implementation.
  4. Organizational strength: We seek grantees who have a strong programmatic track record, good business model, strong leadership, sound financials, and solid evaluative and planning practices. We recognize that organizations may be in different phases of maturity, but we want to see evidence that you are mindful of your organizational health.

Important application information

Applications will not be considered from organizations with overdue grant reports.

If your project involves lobbying, please indicate the anticipated amounts to be spent on direct and/or grassroots lobbying. For more information, please read lobbying expenditures.

We recognize there are meaningful efforts and entities without a 501(c)(3) IRS designation that align with our funding priorities. In these cases, we will consider grant applications from groups utilizing a fiscal sponsor with the 501(c)(3) IRS designation. As part of our review of applications using fiscal sponsorship we will:

  • Assess the financial and organizational health of the sponsor as the potential (legally recognized) grantee.
  • Review a signed agreement developed by the two groups outlining the terms and conditions of the sponsorship. Please include this agreement as part of your application.
For more information and recommended best practices regarding fiscal sponsorship relationships, you may wish to review this resource from Gregory L. Colvin, Esq.

Application process

The Foundation reviews Strategic Initiative Grant applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. In general, the timeframe from submission of your application to funding decision will be six to ten weeks.

To apply for a Strategic Initiative Grant, please follow this two-stage process:

  1. Organizations are required to complete a brief pre-application. Out of respect for your time, we strive to be upfront about our expectations and parameters and the pre-application process enables us to confirm alignment and readiness. After review by the officer assigned to your sector – which may include an in-person conversation – you will be notified by email if you advance to the second stage to complete a full application.
    Sample pre-application (PDF)
    Log in to start stage 1: Pre-application *
  2. If you are invited to advance to the second stage, you will receive an email link to the full application. The application package consists of basic information about your organization, a narrative with details about the project and expected outcomes, and a budget.
    Guidelines document

* If you already have started this online application, please log in to your account page to edit the application that is in progress.


LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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