Newport Hospital
Newport Hospital

by The Rhode Island Foundation

Three local nonprofits on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis are among dozens of organizations getting grants from a special fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island. 

Newport Hospital received $20,000 to support the preparedness and response to COVID-19, including the purchase of personal protective equipment and other health care delivery equipment; programs related to emergency preparedness, containment efforts, response and recovery activities; and crisis measures and supplies. 

“Newport Hospital has served the residents of Newport County for nearly 150 years, and in this time of crisis we are working round the clock to ensure the excellence of care and compassion our community deserves. We are grateful to all those who contributed to the Rhode Island COVID-19 Response Fund. This much needed funding will support our efforts to ensure the greatest health and well-being for all we serve,” Crista F. Durand, president.  

Newport Working Cities, through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, received $30,000 to purchase household supplies and hygiene items for distribution to households affected by the COVID-19 crisis in Middletown and Portsmouth. The organization estimates it will be able to serve approximately 300 families with hard-to-find items such as paper goods, hygiene items and antibacterial cleaning supplies. 

“The emergency funds fulfill basic, health and safety needs. We heard directly from families these types of items were still a struggle to source and purchase. As always, we will work collaboratively with our partners across Aquidneck Island to have items in the hands of families,” said Kate Cantwell, strategic initiative director. 

The Greater Newport County Chamber of Commerce and the Newport Partnership for Families are also supporting the purchase and distribution of goods collaboratively.  

Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice in Portsmouth received $37,000 to strengthen home health care services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to prevent the spread of the disease within the community and to support and treat COVID-19 patients in their home. 

The grant also partially supports hiring an Infectious Disease Control Nurse Educator to support nurses and other clinical staff working the frontlines and an Information Technology Analyst to increase capacity to care for patients via telemedicine. 

“We are so appreciative of the support we have received from the United Way and the Rhode Island Foundation that has contributed to our ability to pivot home healthcare services so that our patients receive the services they need and deserve during this healthcare crisis,” said CEO Jennifer W. Fairbank.  

The COVID-19 Response Fund awarded $1.4 million to 51 nonprofits statewide. The grants ranged from $10,000 to $75,000. 

“We are grateful for all who have supported the fund as the need for assistance has been surging all over Rhode Island.  As Rhode Island’s community foundation, we are trying to build this fund to support those in need. The combination of the health impact and economic impact has brought us to the point now where it will take more resources to continue to provide help to people across the state,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. 

In addition to Newport Hospital, Newport Working Cities and Visiting Nurse, the recipients include the Housing Network of Rhode Island, Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Church Community Housing Corporation. . (The full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support is posted here.) 

 “When we first launched this fund in March, we asked the nonprofit community what they needed most, and they answered: cash assistance, medical equipment and food. Eight weeks later, we are receiving even more urgent requests,” said United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Cortney Nicolato. “While we are seeing some positive signs in Rhode Island, and we appreciate every single donor who has stepped up to date, we have a long way to go to recovery. Continued support of the COVID-19 Response Fund is as critical today as ever.”

Generous donors have already contributed $8.3 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund. New gifts to the fund, in any amount, can be made with the Foundation at or to United Way at Donations will be accepted as long as the need continues. 

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 grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit

United Way of Rhode Island is changing lives and strengthening our communities by investing in proven programs that work over the short-term, and are scalable over the long-term. For more information, visit

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