ri foundation neil steinberg

via Rhode Island Foundation.

The Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island are launching a fund to support local nonprofit organizations on the front line of COVID-19 response efforts.

The two organizations jointly established the COVID-19 Response Fund, quickly raising $1.5 million in initial contributions from individual and corporate donors. The two organizations will work jointly to provide financial support for organizations serving vulnerable populations on the front line of COVID-19 response.

“We are in the midst of an unpredictable, rapidly changing public health emergency – one that is having immediate impact on the community we care so deeply about, and that will likely have lasting, consequential effects,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. 

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“This is the time to coordinate resources and response. As the state’s community foundation, we are prepared, and experienced, at being the nexus between Rhode Islanders who want to help, and the organizations on the ground responding to immediate and prolonged community need,” he said.


The Foundation contributed $250,000 to seed the fund. Individuals, local philanthropic organizations and corporate donors quickly joined in. Even though the fund has already $1.5 million to allocate immediately, donations will be accepted as long as the need continues.

“At times like these it’s challenging to know exactly how to put your charitable dollars to work in the most effective manner. We encourage you to give to organizations that you trust, as every nonprofit in Rhode Island will feel the effect of this crisis,” said Steinberg. “We also welcome your support of the COVID-19 Response Fund. As crisis response evolves, we are well situated to work with public health officials and our community partners to identify the spectrum of need across Rhode Island, to make necessary connections and to deploy resources quickly and effectively.”


The Foundation and United Way will form a joint grantmaking committee to make funding decisions. The goals are to:

●       Rapidly award flexible funding to nonprofits that are at the forefront of COVID-19 response and have experienced significant programmatic burdens or financial challenges;

●       Provide flexible financial support to front line nonprofits serving vulnerable populations, enabling them to expand services and provide basic needs to communities that are disproportionately affected by the crisis; and

●       Complement the work of public health officials by expanding local capacity to address the outbreak’s social, health and economic impacts in the short and long term.

Details on the application and grantmaking process are being determined and will be rolled out in the coming days.

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 $47 million and awarded a record $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. To donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund, visit rifoundation.org/covid19response.