{Photo of Neil Steinberg, President of Rhode Island Foundation}

The Rhode Island Foundation awarded more than $420,000 in grants to local organizations on the way to a record-breaking year in 2015.

“We are indebted to our committed donors for joining with us for 100 years to address on the state’s challenges and opportunities,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Their extraordinary generosity made it possible for us to make investments in Rhode Island as never before.”

The grants targeted eight key sectors: arts and culture, basic human needs, children and families, education, economic security, environment, health and housing. The local grants include:
Baby Steps of Newport received $10,000 to support its monthly educational programs and enrichment activities for families with children ages birth to 36 months. The goal is to promote the involvement of parents and children in the educational and enrichment programs.

“There is a group of children who are already significantly behind their peers by the age of three,” said Linda Finn, who chairs the organization’s board. “By coordinating the work of the many local agencies that provide services to residents, we will improve the outcomes for the children and their families.”

The Little Compton Historical Society received nearly $45,000 to create a major special exhibition, database and publication exploring the enslavement and forced indenture of approximately 250 Little Compton residents from the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century.

Child and Family Services of Middletown received $75,000. The Middletown nonprofit operates nine group homes in Newport County, and a housing program for homeless women and their children in Newport, among other services.

Boys Town New England in Portsmouth received $60,000 to provide services to at least 75 Rhode Island foster children and families.

The West Place Animal Sanctuary in Tiverton received $15,000 to provide enhanced nutrition and specialized medical care to injured, neglected or disabled wildlife and farm animals.

The Humane Society of Jamestown was awarded $7,000 to underwrite a variety of humane education services including offing the Gentle Hands, Gentle Voices program in local schools and donating books to the Jamestown Philomenian and Melrose Avenue School libraries.

The Boys and Girls Club of Newport County received $14,400 to increase attendance and reduce truancy in Newport public schools and to provide books and educational enrichment activities to Newport children during the summer vacation.

Newport County Community Mental Health Center received $15,000 for strategic planning. The Middletown nonprofit serves children and adults who are experiencing problems with mental illness, substance abuse or stress in their lives with counseling and other behavioral health services and supports.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Newport received $23,500 for hunger-relief programs and health cooking classes and to expand its Nutrition Education Program, which develops innovative food and nutrition-delivery systems for needy clients.

The Robert Potter League for Animals of Newport received $35,000 to launch a managed admissions program to reduce the need to euthanize animals and to support CoyoteSmarts, a public education campaign centering on encouraging best management practices and no feeding ordinances.

Women’s Resource Center in Newport received $10,000 to counsel victims of domestic violence and their families and to support its Court Advocacy Program, which helps victims of domestic violence navigate the legal system.

The East Bay Community Action Program received $9,040 to cover tuition for the Certified Nursing Assistant training technical skills training for 15 students at the Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center.

Other local nonprofits receiving funding include Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Seamen’s Church Institute of Newport, the Newport Community School, and Turning Around Ministries of Newport, which received $10,000 to provide supportive services to disadvantaged Newport County residents.

Statewide, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants, the most in the organization’s 99-year-history, while raising $43 million in new gifts from individual, family, organizational and corporate donors last year.

“From investing in programs that ensure young people can have productive lives to helping people lead healthier lives, our grants take on the issues that will move Rhode Island forward,” said Jenny Pereira, director of grant programs.
In addition to grantmaking and fundraising, community leadership is central to the Foundation’s activities and business. In 2015, the Foundation raised a record $354,247 in the fourth year of its annual Civic Leadership Fund (CLF), which enables the Foundation to go beyond traditional grantmaking to provide leadership and a forum for dialogue on critical community issues. Among CLF’s ongoing projects are the Buy Local RI economic development initiative and Community Conversations, a series of presentations on crucial issues.

“Our Civic Leadership donors recognize that change can require many different approaches. Having the resources to take advantage of opportunities enhances the work that our nonprofit partners already do,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s senior vice president of strategy and community investments.

Founded with a $10,000 gift from Jesse Metcalf in 1916, the Foundation’s assets have grown to $790 million. To celebrate its centennial, the Foundation plans a full year of activities, including awarding community-building grants of up to $15,000 in every city and town in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).