Newport organizations have won nearly $30,000 in grants from the Rhode Island Foundation. The funding will support work that includes a community bike facility and wellness programs for senior citizens.

“We’re excited about these ideas for making community happen in more and better ways at the local level. Supporting community-building will improve shared places and quality of life, promote collaboration and increase community engagement,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments in a news release on Tuesday. “We’re grateful to have donors who invest in our work and partners like these that understand the needs of their community.”

The local projects are among just 47 statewide to win funding from the Foundation’s competitive Community Grants program. Most of the work is expected to be underway before the end of the year.

Bike Newport received $10,000 to ensure green infrastructure at the upcoming Big Blue Bike Barn. The work will include adding solar, collecting rainwater and fabricating furniture from locally sourced wood.

“The Newport Housing Authority has granted Bike Newport use of their lot on Sunset Blvd to build the expanded Big Blue Bike Barn facility – a dramatic improvement to the much-loved but undersized Bike Library,” said Bari Freeman, executive director in the release. “The new facility will quadruple facility size and move the program from a parking lot to a beautiful park setting – bringing learning experiences and demonstrations of sustainability and resiliency that will benefit participants, the neighborhood and the greater community.”

The Hi-Lo Neighborhood Association received $9,730 for exercise equipment for residents of Donovan Manor in Newport. The six-story building on Chapel Street provide affordable apartments for low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

“There is a real movement towards in-home health and this grant will allow residents to exercise in their home. Our project has the potential to be a model for health and wellness centers in HUD housing nationally,” said Thomas Sheehan, president.

The Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project received $10,000 to create a monument in Liberty Square commemorating the lives of Africans who were brought to Newport as part of the Atlantic slave trade.

“Africans played a fundamental part in the development of Newport throughout its history and African Americans continue to contribute today economically, culturally, civically, and socially,” said Victoria Johnson, who chairs the effort in a news release. “Creating a memorial honors the work and sacrifices made by Africans and their African American descendants. This monument will give our community visible representation of African and African American involvement in the creation of Newport.”

The Foundation awarded more than $86,000 in grants to projects in Newport County. The other area organizations that won funding include Melville Elementary School in Portsmouth, which received $10,000 to install a 30‘ x 30’ open-sided, sunshade roof structure for a new outdoor classroom; Lucy’s Hearth of Middletown, which won $10,000 to build a community bicycle oasis, including secured bicycle corrals and a sun and rain shelter; and the Middletown Tree Association, which was awarded $10,000 to complete the final phase of a tree-planting plan for Middletown Valley park.  Located behind the Christmas Tree Shop Shopping Center along High Street, the site had been declared contaminated by the state Department of Environmental Management.

“By planting trees in the park, we are enhancing a significant open space where residents and visitors alike can walk and enjoy the beauty of the natural environment. These trees will offer habitat for birds and wildlife and, in addition, the trees will help to contain storm water runoff in a fragile watershed area of Bailey’s Brook, which runs through the area, an important source of water for the town,” said Karen P. Day, chair of the Middletown Tree Commission in the news release.

The funding from the Community Grants Program is supplemented by a gift from long-time Foundation donor Anne Sage.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. 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

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...