Grants will fund programs ranging from job readiness training and after-school activities to preventing relationship violence prevention and stocking food pantries

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $259,000 in grants to 40 organizations serving Newport County residents.

The grants, through the Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF), will underwrite a host of programs ranging from job readiness training and after-school activities to preventing relationship violence and stocking food pantries.

The NCF offered grants of up $10,000 in seven key funding areas: arts and culture, basic human needs, children and families, economic security, the environment, healthy lives and housing.

“From enriching arts and educational opportunities for young people to underwriting critical health and environmental programs, we are proud to work with partners that are improving lives here,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the donors who make this assistance possible and the local men and women who keep us closely connected to the community.”

In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of Newport County residents including John Ellis, William Harvey, Kristen Humphrey, Victoria Johnson, John Murphy and John Trifero.

Established in 2002, the NCF has awarded more than $3.5 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. The NCF is one of one of several committee-advised funds at the Foundation established to fulfill the desire of donors and serving specific issues or geographic areas.

The American Red Cross received $5,000 to support the direct and indirect expenses of delivering disaster services in Newport County.

Aquidneck Island Land Trust of Middletown received $5,000 to develop a master plan for the management of Newport’s public trees, parks and open space. The last comprehensive plan was completed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1913.

“Our sense of community stems, in large part, from our ability to share in these outdoor spaces and activities. This project will assess and improve upon these outdoor public community spaces and the decision-making process surrounding their use and management,” said Charles Allott, executive director.

Baby Steps of Newport received $7,500 to support its monthly educational programs and enrichment activities for families with children ages birth to 36 months. These programs are based on professionally developed curriculum, promoted through community outreach and collaboration and supported by a cadre of volunteers. The goal is to promote the involvement of parents and children in the educational and enrichment programs.

“Baby Steps assists parents, with children under age three, in developing teaching and parenting skills that can improve a child’s learning and social skills”, said Linda Finn who chairs the organization’s board. “Early development of learning and social skills can improve a child’s education experience during the crucial formative years of kindergarten through grade three. Baby Steps is a partnership with parents and children.”

The Best Buddies Newport County Friendship Project received $2,500 to provide educational, recreational, leadership and social opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IOD) from Salve Regina University, Middletown High School and Rogers High School.

“Over the coming year, we will recruit, train and guide student leaders in running successful chapters on their campuses. At the beginning of the school year, student leaders will recruit high school and college peer buddies, to be matched in a mentoring friendship with a peer or an adult from the community with IDD,” said Matthew Netto, state director.

Bike Newport received $5,510 to provide safety gear for night riding to bicycle-dependent hospitality workers and residents in the city’s Health Equity Zone in the Broadway and North End neighborhoods.

“We will purchase night safety equipment including front and rear lights, bells, reflective tape, helmets and printed rules and recommendations for the road in English and Spanish,” said Bari Freeman, executive director.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County received $15,000 to fund two proposals. The club received $10,000 to expand its College and Career Prep program. In addition, a $5,000 grant will underwrite educational enrichment activities for Newport students during the summer vacation through the Newport Partnership for Families.

“Overwhelming research reveals that students who spend their summers without enriching, educational activities fall victims of the ‘summer slide,’” said Joseph Pratt, executive director and CEO. “To succeed in school and life, students need ongoing learning opportunities to practice essential skills outside of the academic school year. It is a crucial component for helping them retain what they’ve learned during the school year.  These programs offer youth high yield learning experiences and opportunities in a fun environment promoting academic, social-emotional and essential skills via hands-on, experiential curriculum and service learning opportunities.”

Common Fence Music received $7,000 support for Connecting the Beats, which brings African and Afro-Caribbean drumming and dance to the youth of Newport County through collaborations with local youth organizations and schools, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County, the East Bay Met School in Newport; Rogers High, Thompson Middle and Pell Elementary schools in Newport, Melrose School in Jamestown, Gaudet Middle School in Middletown, Portsmouth Middle School and the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s summer camps.

“Connecting the Beats will begin its seventh season of participatory concert and workshop offerings in various settings for youth around Newport County. The program, which offers musical training and cross-cultural education in a cooperative setting, is enthusiastically embraced by parents and teachers as well as the students themselves,” said Thomas Perrotti, the organization’s musical director.

Cornerstone Adult Services, a member of Saint Elizabeth Community, received $7,279 to support its Opening Minds through Art program. Working one-on-one with volunteers, 12 clients with dementia will create art. At the end of the 10-week program, their art will be displayed at a gallery exhibition.

Day One received $10,000 to support the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and clinical services for child and adult victims of sexual violence in Newport County. Last year, the CAC reported a 28 percent increase over 2014 in the number of adults and children served.

“This grant will help Day One provide critical treatment for sexual abuse victims, and expand prevention education to help bring an end to sexual violence in Newport County,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director.

The Fort Adams Trust received $7,500 to develop a strategic plan for 2016-2018, which will include strategies for working with other local nonprofit organizations to increase use of Fort Adams.

“This will enable us to continue restoring the Fort Adams structure and offering events and activities that are entertaining, educational, exciting and appropriate for people of all ages so that all who visit Fort Adams will have a memorable visitor experience,” said Joseph Dias, executive director.

Friends of Ballard Park of Newport received $5,000 to support its field trip program. Nearly 800 children are expected to participate in the organization’s Environmental Explorations Program, which includes trips to visit the 13-acre nature preserve to participate in hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that correspond with academic subjects like geology, habitats, insects, ecosystems and animals that they are learning about in school or home school.

“During the summer months, we collaborate with agencies like the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the YMCA to offer programs that combat the ‘summer learning slump,’ promote socialization and keep children active,” said Colleen McGrath, executive director. “The children quickly become fascinated with the natural environment and delight in catching an insect, seeing a duck swim in the vernal pond or learning about why a spider makes a web.”

The Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England received $5,000 for its Urban Outreach program, which introduces at-risk girls in grades K-8 from lower-income, Newport County neighborhoods to scouting and the benefits of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

“This helps girls discover their personal best and prepare for the future. They gain self-confidence and new skills, and that has a positive impact on them as well as their community,” said Jill Martens, manager, fund development.

Island Moving Company of Newport will expand its “Math Into Movement” residency from Newport’s Pell Elementary School to elementary schools in Middletown, Jamestown, Portsmouth, Little Compton and Tiverton.

The residency was created two years ago with the help of second grade teachers at Pell.  It uses movement as a tool to teach the important concepts of addition and telling time.  Dancers from the Company teach the movement lesson plan to the teachers during their common planning time and then work with the students in their classroom.  Teachers learn the movement tools and are given the lesson plans so that they can continue to use the movement techniques after the dancers are gone.

“We are excited about bringing our successful Math Into Movement program into other Newport County schools,” said Dominique Alfandre, executive director. “The program has proven itself effective and fulfills our goals of using dance to understand mathematical concepts, empowering teachers to use movement in their classrooms and reaching kinetic learners who learn best when they are physically engaged.”

The Jamestown Arts Center (JAC) received $4,000 for the Heifetz on Tour Residency Program. Now in its third year, the program brings young, world-class classical musicians to Newport County and provides unique educational and artistic opportunities for residents.

Through a partnership with the acclaimed Heifetz International Music Institute, JAC hosts residencies twice a year. Alumni of the Institute’s summer program will spend a week in Jamestown where they will stay with local families.

The musicians will visit schools throughout the state, working both individually and in groups with students and performing musicale events in the evenings. Their week-long residency will culminate in a dress rehearsal that will be open to the public and a full concert at the JAC.

“This will help us provide the necessary transportation, housing and stipends for the musicians and will allow us to continue this truly remarkable program,” said Lisa Utman Randall, JAC’s executive director.

The Jamestown Community Chorus received $1,500 to bring the Northern Harmony choir to Jamestown. The choir will present a singing workshop and concert at the Jamestown Community Center.

“We hope to fully-fund the admission to the workshop for our chorus members as well as for 50 local teenagers. We are working to establish a youth chorus in the fall of 2016 and this is going to be a great kick-off,” said Bruce Whitehouse, music director.

The Jamestown Education Foundation received $5,185 to enable the Jamestown School Department to expand its robotics program.

“Over the past 15 years, our program has grown substantially with almost 25 percent of grades 5-8 participating in the First Lego League competition this year. We continue to see increasing interest levels, including expansion into the elementary school. This grant will enable us to continue to grow the program in order to ensure that it is accessible to more students,” said Michele Egan, president.

The Katie Brown Educational Program (KBEP) received $5,000 to continue offering its Relationship Violence Prevention curriculum at Tiverton Middle School and to begin offering the program in Portsmouth and Newport.

“Our work is changing young people’s perceptions and behaviors regarding teen dating violence, cyber-violence and bullying.  We believe education is the channel for this important work. A study by researchers at Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center confirmed that teens who receive the KBEP have a lower tolerance for aggression and violence, as well as healthier attitudes about relationships,” said Claire McVicker, executive director.

“Students acquire the life skills to handle emotional challenges, and the skills needed to recognize the presence or potential presence of violence in relationships, to create safe, respectful and healthy relationships, and to choose alternatives to violent behaviors.”

Lucy’s Hearth of Middletown received $10,000 to provide emergency shelter and trauma-focused support services for homeless mothers and their children. The funds will cover the cost of staffing, programming, basic needs and supplies.

“These services are critical in heading off diverse health, social, mental health and academic outcomes later in life. These children are at significantly greater risk for food insecurity, moderate-to-severe health problems like asthma and mental health challenges such as traumatic stress and depression,” said Susan Erstling, chair of the board of directors.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center of Newport received $10,000 to expand its Nutrition Education Program, which offers nutritional education to its clients and develops innovative food and nutrition delivery systems for underserved populations, as well as to launch a wellness program.

“For many of our families, poverty, lack of transportation or poor modeling of healthy behaviors can lead to food insecurity and poor eating habits,” said Marilyn Warren, executive director. “Wellness and nutrition education and counseling can address a wide range of health issues, including weight control, diabetes and high blood pressure that can lead to healthier, happier lives.”

The Middletown Historical Society received $1,300 to support its Golden Rule Days initiative. Fourth-graders at Aquidneck and Forrest Avenue elementary schools will visit the circa-1892 Witherbee School to experience what learning in a one-room schoolhouse was like at the turn of the century. The funds will cover the cost of transportation.

“This program provides a rich education by covering a history of the town’s growth, along with family and school life at the turn of the century. It highlights Middletown’s expansion and economic changes through the years,” said Gary Paquette, president.

The Newport Community School received $10,000 to continue implementing its summer learning programs, including Grade Transition Programs. Offered after grades 5, 8 and 11, the initiative alleviates student anxiety, encourages grade readiness and provides initial academic preparedness for the new grade level and aids academic performance and extended learning summer programming.

“Our work stems summer learning loss as well as facilitates improved transitions for students at key grade levels,” said Tracy Shea, executive director. “These initiatives are intended to not only boost students’ core literacy and numeracy skills, but also to ensure they have the tools they need to be academically successful as they move through school. These programs also help improve and sustain family involvement in student academic and social success,” she said.

The Newport School Department received $6,500 to support the “Keepin’ It Real” incentive program for students enrolled in the Alternative Learning Program at Rogers High School. The goal of the behavioral-rewards program is to encourage students to remain in school through graduation.

The Newport String Project, a sponsored program of Community MusicWorks, received $9,000 to support its fourth year of programming, including violin and viola lessons for 30 students in grades K-5 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport.

The Portsmouth Free Library received $8,000 to replace 10 broken or outdated laptop computers. The new units will enable the library to provide basic computer instruction, genealogy research, introduction to word processing and spreadsheets, and access electronic databases and e-books.

“With an unemployment rate of about 6 percent, we also want to offer computer classes in job searches, resume writing and certification programs such as the Northstar Digital Literacy Certificate,” said Carolyn Booth Magnus, director.

The Rhode Island Black Storytellers received $3,000 to present storytelling programs to mark the 19th annual FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling. Professional storytellers will perform for preschool, elementary and middle school audiences, as well as stage a public performance for the whole community.

The Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership received $10,000 to support mentoring activities for up to 125 children in Newport and Middletown public schools.

“Our Aquidneck Island Mentor Program will continue to support our existing mentors and recruit, train, match and support new mentors to reach more children who are currently on waiting lists. We will enhance the program by providing advanced training to mentors in topics of concern for youth and in STEM-learning with the hope of promoting career exploration especially within the STEM fields,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO

The Saint Clare Home received $4,500 to support training for all staff to meet requirements of a major expansion in programs and services to meet the changing needs and demand for services among elders in Newport.

The Salvation Army in Newport received $6,000 to provide up to 40 children a week with an exercise and nutrition program. During 16-week, fall and spring programs, participants will learn to integrate a healthy diet and exercise into their lives and improve their fitness levels under the guidance of a professional sports activity instructor.

The Seamen’s Church Institute of Newport received $5,000 to support its 24-hour emergency warming center, which provides overnight shelter and services for Newport County residents in need during times of extreme cold.

“We provide sleeping mats, blankets and pillows for rest, warm food and drink, showers, laundry and activities for up to 30 adults in need of refuge,” said Rebecca Pierce, superintendent. “We serve the homeless, those with utilities shut off, plow drivers and emergency personnel and others looking for safe haven or reprieve from the elements.”

The St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Joseph’s Conference of Newport, received $7,500 to provide financial assistance to individuals and families facing emergencies including eviction, utility shut-offs, lack of home heating oil, need of prescription drugs and clothing.

“We receive referrals for financial assistance from Newport Housing Hotline, McKinney Homeless Shelter and Halfway House, Newport Mental Health, Newport Housing Authority, East Bay Community Action, Seamen’s Institute, Red Cross and the community at large,” said Richard Turcotte, treasurer of the society, which helped 546 households last year.

The Star Kids Scholarship Program of Middletown received $5,000 to support after-school and summer academic tutoring for students who have the ability to be successful in school, but are struggling academically and may not have the support system at home to help with homework and projects.

“We provide tutoring and school books for low-income, at-risk children who have a parent with a history of incarceration or substance abuse. That academic support will assist our children in being successful within their competitive school environments, with the overall goal of graduating from high school,” said Karen Flanagan, acting executive director.

The Taylor Point Restoration Association (TPRA) of Jamestown received $7,000 to develop guidance tools to support community-led efforts to eliminate invasive species within Taylor Point and revegetate the 20-acre area with native species.

TPRA has identified 79 native plant species that are threatened by 25 invasive ones. TPRA will develop visual and descriptive field guidance specific to these species to assist volunteers in removing invasive species and revegetating with native species.

“This process is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. To rid an area of invasive plant species and revegetate it with native ones effectively requires the use of techniques that may be both species specific and environment and habitat specific,” said Lois Migneault, secretary of the association.

The Tiverton Public Library received $2,500 to support the creation of three large ceramic murals in the Tiverton Public Library. As part of the $60,000 project, artists Mika Seeger and Peter Geisser plan to hold a series of community meetings to enable residents to contribute their personal histories, ideas and insights. Then residents will have the opportunity to work with the artists to design, make and install murals. At least 300 people of all ages are expected to be involved in the design, creation and installation of the murals.

“They will contribute to deciding how to depict the town’s Native American, Portuguese and English roots; its evolving farming, fishing, marine, small shop and arts economies; and the timeless natural beauty of its beaches, woods, meadows and marshes. This endeavor will build community across generations and socio-economic groups through direct participation in the arts, and create a lasting reflection of the community,” said Ann Grealish-Rust, director.

Trinity Episcopal Church of Newport received $3,000 for its Community Meal Program, which serves complete, hot, and nutritious meals on the first, fourth and fifth Mondays of each month to anyone who needs one. In 2015, the program served 2,105 meals at an average cost of $2.26 per meal.

“We are all volunteers and our meal site is open to everyone. They are attended by the homeless, working poor, young families and the elderly on fixed incomes. In short, we provide direct aid to the needy of Newport and Aquidneck Island in an extremely efficient and cost-effective manner,” said Jeffrey Greene, community meal program chair.

The Turning Around Ministries of Newport received $10,000 to provide supportive services, including clothing, job readiness training and financial assistance for education and medical needs, to disadvantaged Newport County residents.

“Our clients often are unable to find work or housing because of a criminal record, illness or some other obstacle. Dire circumstances and discouragement drive many to drugs, alcohol abuse and, in some cases, crime,” said Cheryl Robinson, president. “Our goal is to ensure that they get the support services they need to become contributing members of society.”

The United Baptist Church of Newport received $10,000 to support its Community Meal Ministry. The grant will be used to help offset the cost of utilities, fire suppression upkeep and cleaning, as well as to upgrade the men’s bathroom to provide handicap accessibility, install a new door for the handicap entrance and clean up the back hall storage area.

“We are committed to funding our own food and supplies via donations of money, food and time from our own congregation. This grant enables us to continue to serve the needy in our community alongside our neighbor faith communities,” said Jennifer Mulcahey of the Board of Trustees.

Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties in Portsmouth received $5,000 for staff and leadership development and training, particularly working with patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers.

“Clinical education, such as recognition and treatment of elderly depression, anxiety and management of patients who demonstrate cognitive disease, is essential. The increasing incidence of cognitive impairment in our patient population requires staff training and competence in this critical aspect of home health care,” said Candace Sharkey, CEO.

The Washington Square Services Corp. received $10,000 to hire a full-time employment counselor who will help clients of the McKinney Cooperative Shelter obtain the education and training they need to find jobs.

“Our goal is to find full- or part-time jobs for 40 people. Given the shortage of local residents in seasonal employment fields like construction and hospitality, this program not only will put people to work, but help local businesses thrive,” said Deborah Johnston, executive director.

The Women’s Resource Center of Newport County received $9,726 for the North End Leaders Project, which will build leadership capacity within the north end of Newport by recruiting at least 15 residents to become the founding members of a neighborhood association to address pressing community issues.

“We are very excited to be able to assist the residents in the North End in establishing a neighborhood association, which, in turn, will encourage neighbors to work together to improve their community,” said Lori DiPersio, executive director.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded a record $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