The Rhode Island Foundation today announced it has awarded $285,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents.

The Announcement

The grants, through the Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF), will support a host of activities ranging from community gardens and summer educational activities to enhancing the arts and preventing relationship violence prevention.

“From protecting the environment to underwriting health and job readiness programs, we are fortunate to partner with organizations that are improving lives here in Newport County,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are thankful for the donors who make these partnerships possible.”

The NCF offered grants of up $10,000 to develop new programs, to strengthen or expand established programs and for municipal planning or leadership. In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of residents from every community in Newport County.

Established in 2002, the NCF has awarded more than $4 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. The NCF is one of several committee-advised funds at the Foundation established to fulfill the desire of donors and serving specific issues or geographic areas.

The announcement took place at Child & Family in Middletown, which received $10,000 for its Supportive Housing Program. The initiative provides safe, affordable housing to families with children after a period of homelessness.

“Our Supportive Housing Program is based on the belief that families must be empowered to make healthy, independent choices leading to self-sufficiency. Our staff works as a team with the parent and child, along with service providers, to support and empower them towards self-sufficiency,” said Marty Sinnott, president and CEO.   

Based in Newport’s North End, the program serves an average of a dozen families or 37 individuals each year.

“The vast majority of our Supportive Housing Program clients successfully move along a continuum of independence and ultimately accomplish their goals, including the attainment of permanent housing, within fifteen months of entering the program,” Sinnott said. “With the support of this grant, Child & Family will continue to help lift homeless families out of poverty and guide them on a path to independence, including the attainment of permanent housing.”

Aquidneck Community Table received $8,100 to fund the operations of the Miantonomi Farmers Market, a joint project with the Newport Health Equity Zone. The goal is to make affordable fresh foods available to residents of the city’s North End in a community-oriented setting.

“We are really excited to be able to open the market in Miantonomi Park this summer and bring many local vendors, community groups and family activities together to serve the North Side community in this great new market location,” said Jazmine Wray, Newport Health Equity Zone coordinator.

Books are Wings received $2,000 to support its “Make Newport a Literacy Rich City” initiative. The grant will enable the organization to give 2,500 free books to children enrolled in the East Bay Community Action Program’s Head Start and to impact 1,400 children by improving services at four Newport Hospital Children’s Book Stops.

“We are dedicated to supporting children and families with the books they need to build home libraries through our programs. Engaging children in their classroom, with their parents at community events and then again on the playground brings books to children in different environment, instilling a message that reading is not just for school but a way of life,” said Jocelynn White, executive director.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County (BGCNC) received $10,000 to support the Anchor Academy, a leadership development and peer mentoring program that will pair sophomores with high-risk incoming freshmen at Middletown High School. Through this program, approximately 30 sophomores will receive leadership training to provide guidance and support for freshmen at risk of dropping out. 

“This support is critical to our innovative and impactful work with students during a pivotal year of transition in their academic lives. Our academy will help teens build critical leadership skills and social and emotional competencies that will help them make positive, healthy life decisions,” said Joseph Pratt, executive director and CEO.

Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $8,000 to support its “Compost Education Initiative,” which promotes environmental stewardship with a focus on composting by connecting 5th graders on Aquidneck Island with composting activities that improve their understanding of scientific processes and disciplines.

“Our goal is inform students of the waste management issues facing the state of Rhode Island, educate on the benefits of composting to address this issue, enable them with self-led initiatives to learn and engage in composting activities, and create the opportunity to improve students’ understanding of many scientific processes and disciplines of composting and solid waste management, and expose the students to the policy and advocacy efforts for expanding composting on Aquidneck Island,” said Dave McLaughlin, executive director.

Day One in Middletown received $10,000 to provide evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse. The organization expects to serve more than 300 people through its Children’s Advocacy Center in Middletown and its adult advocacy and clinical programs.

“This assistance will help us provide crucial advocacy and treatment for child victims of sexual abuse, and expand prevention education to help end sexual violence in Newport County,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport received $10,000 to support the academic, emotional and social success of students in its after-school and summer camp programs, which serve students from all over Newport County.

“We are proud to offer Out-of-School Programs that include literacy and math enrichment, physical fitness, music, theater,  nutrition and STEAM education, field trips and so much more throughout the year to more than 100 children in Newport County,” said Heather Hole Strout, executive director.

Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England received $5,000 to support its Community Outreach and Extended Learning Program in Newport County. These funds are expected to benefit hundreds of girls in under-served communities in Newport County.

“This makes it possible for us to provide the life-changing benefits of Girl Scouting and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to those who are most in need of our services. We believe that every girl who wants to be a Girl Scout should be able to be a Girl Scout, which is why we created this program 46 years ago,” said Pam Hyland, chief executive.

“This funding helps girls discover their personal best and grow into our leaders of tomorrow. They gain self-confidence by learning new skills and discover the importance of giving back. That has a positive impact on them as well as their community,” she added.

God’s Community Garden in Middletown received $2,500 to continue providing free vegetables and herbs to senior citizens and people in need at four farm stands, distributing vases of flowers to all local nursing facilities and promoting health and wellness on Aquidneck Island.

“Community gardening is a great way to engage with other volunteers about growing, cooking and eating healthy vegetables. It plays an important role in motivating individuals physically, mentally and spiritually and is an educational tool to teach children that healthy eating can be fun and taste good,” said Linda Wood, coordinator.

The Island Moving Company in Newport received $9,920 to partner with Pell Elementary School and the Newport Family and Child Opportunity Zone to provide a year of immersive dance education classes and performances to a cohort of 18 fourth grade students.

“This program is so indicative of our collaborative nature. In partnership with Mark McKenna, we take referrals from the district to build this cohort in the fall. Through the course of the year, students work with professional dancers, a physical therapist, costumers and stage hands and interface their peers.” said Edward McPherson, executive director. “Built by Miki Ohlsen and run by Glen Lewis, this program provides a narrow and deep focus on segment of students who need this type of attention during a pivotal time in their lives.”

The Jamestown Arts Center received $8,000 to support its Arts Experience Initiative, an annual series of free programming for all ages that helps break down barriers to participation in the arts. Included in this initiative are school field trips and arts outreach; interactive, all-ages workshops and events such as the annual lantern parade and kite-making day; as well as its annual Heifetz International Music Institute residency. The organization expects approximately 1,000 people will take part in at least one of the activities.

“The initiative is designed to create additional opportunities for residents to experience the arts. The arts can help build a sense of community and create an increased sense of livability in our towns and cities, said Lisa Utman Randall, executive director. “While our initiative includes programming for all ages, our focus is providing activities for young people because we believe that early arts experiences can shape how children learn and promote innovation, creativity and leadership skills.”

The Katie Brown Educational Program received $6,500 to provide to relationship violence prevention education to Tiverton Middle School and Tiverton High School students as well as youth programs within Newport County.

“Teen dating violence is a real problem. Relationship violence leads to a host of negative outcomes, including higher dropout rates, teen pregnancy, poverty, and higher incarceration rates. Our program reduces these outcomes by providing students with the skills needed to recognize the presence of violence in relationships. Students who participate in the Katie Brown Educational Program succeed in creating safe, respectful, and healthy relationships; and learn to choose alternatives to violent behaviors,” said Claire McVicker, executive director.

The Little Compton Community Center received $10,000 to support its Generation Collaboration program. Children in the center’s after-school program will be taught how to make desserts for the center’s senior lunch program. The center expects to serve 25-30 seniors and 15-20 children a day through the program.

“This is an excellent way to introduce community service into our after-school program, forge connections between the younger and older generations of Little Compton and continue to grow two of our main service programs,” said Doug Orville, executive director.

Meals on Wheels received $5,000 to provide home-delivered meals to Newport County seniors. The organization expects to serve more than 180 elderly or homebound adults.

“After 50 years, our Home-Delivered Meal Program continues to be the only nonprofit meal program of its kind in Rhode Island, delivering daily meals, friendly visits and an Emergency Meal Program that ensures homebound individuals have food should inclement weather prevent daily delivery,” said Karen Weavill, development director. “Last year, 23,333 complete, nutritious meals were delivered to 181 individuals in Newport County, and this year’s grant will help us to continue that work.”

MENTOR Rhode Island received $10,000 to support Aquidneck Island Mentoring (AIM), the organization’s school-based mentoring program serving approximately 65 children in Newport and Middletown public schools. 

“AIM will continue to provide high-quality mentoring relationships for the children of Newport County,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO of MENTOR Rhode Island.  “We’ll expand access to mentoring relationships by continuing to recruit more mentors from the community and train them in the best practices in the field.”

“Ongoing match support and additional trainings will be provided by our long-time AIM Director, Nichole Lewis, to help those relationships flourish. We are also committed to expanding mentoring opportunities on Aquidneck Island by offering training and technical assistance to other youth-serving programs and agencies,” she said.

Newport Community School received $10,000 for out-of-school programs that focus on career development for youth. The goal is to prepare middle and high school youth for success in college, career and life by offering high-quality career exploration opportunities to equip them with the skills, knowledge and skills for a successful transition into adulthood.

“Because we also serve adult learners, we are very aware of what constitutes career readiness and what the pathway is to employment. Supporting our youth at an early stage will help them use their middle and high school time to explore careers, understand what is needed to pursue careers of interest and to reinforce the importance of academic preparation for their future lives.  It is an investment in our youth and our city and state,” said Tracey Shea, executive director.

The Newport County YMCA in Middletown received $10,000 to offer Race4Chase, which will offer 125 children ages 6-12 with six weeks of a free, safe, healthy, non-competitive environment through the sport of triathlon.

Coaches will work with approximately 125 children from the Newport Y and four other Rhode Island YMCAs to encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle, to develop a variety of athletic skills and to aim high in sports and in life. The summer program will end with the “Chasing Summer” triathlon Aug. 11 at Fort Adams.

“We are really excited and proud to have 25 local children participate in this Race4Chase program. At the Y, we’re all about promoting healthier lifestyles so being able to work with these young kids, coaching them along towards completing a triathlon is really special and very unique,” said Mike Miller, CEO. “The Y is grateful to the CMAK Foundation for creating Race4Chase in honor of their son. We’re really proud to be part of Chase’s legacy. Please come cheer on the kids on Aug. 11 at Fort Adams.”

The Newport Gulls received $3,000 to send 40 underprivileged children to attend its summer camps with players and coaches in Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth. The Gulls will work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, the East Bay Community Action Program, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and local little leagues to identify needy children age 6 to 12 that come from families experiencing financial hardship.

“The grant allows us to give children an opportunity to attend a Gulls summer camp; to learn the game of baseball, develop social skills, to keep them busy during the summer months doing positive activities and to be around positive role models. Together, we can do great things for our local children,” said Chuck Paiva, general manager.

Newport Mental Health in Middletown received $10,000 to provide transportation to individuals with serious behavioral disabilities who otherwise would be unable to make critical scheduled post-hospitalization or first appointments and services. The grant is expected to fund approximately 1,000 rides for clients.

“We are delighted to be able to provide this needed access. Access to treatment is one of the most confounding problems for people being unable to get the help they need. In fact, since launching the program in 2017, we have seen a 25% decrease in missed therapy and medication appointments. With this new additional funding, we hope to see an even greater decrease in missed appointments, giving individuals a real chance at recovery,” said CEO and President Jamie Lehane.

“One of the real benefits will be to assure that people who present in the Newport Emergency Department or call us in crisis can be immediately provided transportation to our same day walk-in service.  This will greatly reduce the number of people in need of behavioral health services that formerly fell ‘between the cracks,’” he said.

The Newport Partnership for Families received $5,000 to support educational enrichment activities for Newport students during the summer vacation.  The R3 Reading Reaps Rewards Summer Literacy Program is a collaborative effort between the Newport Partnership for Families, Boys and Girls Club of Newport County, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Newport Family and Child Opportunity Zone at Pell Elementary School and Newport School Department.

“During summer vacation, many students find themselves without access to mind stimulating activities and by end of the summer, many students perform, on average, one month behind from where they left off in the spring,” said Sharon Carter, director. “’Reducing ‘summer slide’ by helping students maintain their literacy skills will enable them to begin the academic year ready to learn with equivalent or improved literacy skills.”

Newport Working Cities received $10,000 to support a pilot shared data system across the city. The goal is increase opportunities that prepare local teens for careers, identify local policies that hinder employment and fill gaps in local training and employment opportunities for teens and adults.

“This grant enables residents to partner with institutions to make informed decisions and collaborate on the steps necessary to share data, streamline practices, increase efficiencies and reduce duplication of services,” said Kathryn Cantwell, initiative director at Working Cities, which is a coalition of local organizations that have joined together to reduce poverty in Newport.

“The focus is facilitating relationship building, breaking the barriers of poverty and maintaining long-term employment. Working effectively and collaboratively over a sustained period of time will enable us to achieve a collective impact that no single organization would achieve on its own,” she said.

Rhode Island Black Storytellers received $5,500 to present storytelling programs, including performances for school, community and family audiences and storytelling workshops for parents, teachers, librarians and others.

“People will be exposed to and inspired to do storytelling themselves. This will create more understanding of the importance of storytelling and its value for both cultural literacy and family engagement,” said Valerie Tutson, executive director.

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 sports activity instructor.

“Children from low income families, who often lack access to healthy foods and information about physical fitness, may suffer from poor health and obesity. Participants will learn to integrate healthy diets and exercise into their lives and improve their fitness levels.” said Lt. James Bang, commanding officer, The Salvation Army, Newport.

Save The Bay received $2,800 to support of its Bay Discovery, Restoration and Protection program with all 3rd-grade students from Pell Elementary School. Throughout the school year, students will participate in multiple experiences – in the classroom, at the Exploration Center & Aquarium, and along the coast. Students will learn about the habitats and inhabitants of Narragansett Bay, watersheds, coastal resiliency, and will serve as coastal ecologists by helping to plant dune grasses at Easton’s Beach. Support from the Foundation will help underwrite the necessary transportation costs in getting students out of the classroom and discovering their place within their local environment.

“Ultimately, it is our goal to inspire a new generation of environmental stewards who are actively engaged as advocates for a healthy and thriving Bay and its watershed,” said Jonathan Stone, executive director of Save The Bay. “Our ongoing work with Pell Elementary School helps engage students in hands-on learning, inspires their interest in the STEM fields and encourages their love of discovery for our natural world.”

The Seamen’s Church Institute in Newport received $3,000 to provide educational material to Thompson Middle School fifth graders who participate in its Discovery Deck initiative. The grant serves more than 200 students and supports the work of community partners like Fish’n Tales Adventures and Clean Ocean Access.

“Students learn about environmental threats to Narragansett Bay and stewardship of plastics in our oceans. Our goal is to give students a working understanding of the negative impact plastic bags have on our estuaries and oceans and how as consumers we can make positive changes to move us toward a more sustainable world,” said Ann Souder, executive director.

Special Olympics Rhode Island received $5,000 to support its 2020 East Bay Area Games at Gaudet Middle School in Middletown. The event involves more than local 225 athletes and hundreds of local volunteers.

“East Bay Area Games are designed to have athletes experience competition and be divisioned by age and ability-level in preparation for State Summer Games. Being local, Area Games give the athletes a chance to compete close to family and friends, receiving regional support,” said Dennis DeJesus, CEO.

“We love holding these qualifying Area Games in Newport County where hundreds of volunteers work for months to provide a memorable experience for our athletes and their families. The students of Salve Regina University especially step up every year to host the Area Games and we are grateful to all our supporters throughout Newport County,” he said.

The Star Kids Scholarship Program in Middletown received $3,000 to help more than 45 disadvantaged Newport County children with educational supports, including tutoring, after-school and summer camp programs and schoolbooks. The grant will enable Star Kids to continue providing these services to the at-risk children in its program.

“This generous assistance makes it possible for us to provide at-risk local children, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, with a range of supports that are critical to strengthening their educational experience, which will help set them on paths to productive, successful lives, free of poverty, substance abuse and incarceration,” said Kathy Stark, executive director.

The Turning Around Ministries of Newport received $10,000 to provide case management service for formerly incarcerated residents of Newport County. The case managers will link clients to supportive services, including job readiness training and medical care necessary for clients to successfully re-enter the community.

“The recidivism rate for ex-offenders in Newport County is 30%. By offering re-entry populations comprehensive, long-term supportive services, we will increase the odds they can change their lives for the better,” said Cheryl Robinson, president.

Visiting Nurse Home & Hospice in Portsmouth received $5,000 for staff and leadership development and training to support the ongoing professional development of staff at all levels of the organization.

“At Visiting Nurse Home & Hospice, we recognize that home health care agencies need strong managers and supervisors as well as competent clinical staff to ensure that patients receive state-of-the art healthcare using the latest information and technologies. Thanks to this funding, personnel at all levels of our organization will receive high-quality professional development to be the best that they can be and our many patients will be the beneficiaries,” said CEO Jennifer Fairbank.

The Women’s Resource Center in Newport received $7,500 to support the continued development of the North End Leaders Project. This work will include supporting the North End Neighborhood Association as it continues to build leadership and organizational capacity, supporting residents to engage in municipal decision-making processes and developing an infrastructure for ongoing capacity-building opportunities related to civic engagement.

“We are very excited to partner with members of the North End Neighborhood Association to continue our joint efforts of increasing resident leadership in the civic life of the neighborhood and city,” said Lori DiPersio, executive director.

Other organizations receiving grants include the Choir School of Newport County, the East Bay Community Action Program, the Little Compton Historical Society, Lucy’s Hearth, the Newport Music Festival and the Norman Bird Sanctuary.

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 $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018.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