Two local nonprofits have received a total of $6,000 in grants from Bank Rhode Island (BankRI) to support their work on Aquidneck Island. Lucy’s Hearth and Reach Out & Read RI each received $3,000 in funding. The grants are part of $35,750 recently awarded by the bank to organizations statewide.

“It’s our priority to give back to the communities where we live and work, and especially during the challenging times we’re all living through right now,” said Mark J. Meiklejohn, President and CEO of BankRI in a statement. “Our nonprofit partners are doing exceptional work with fewer resources and in the face of rising need. We know these funds will help them continue to make a difference for local families.”

Serving a record number of homeless families with what it describes as ‘high acuity needs’ magnified by the pandemic, Lucy’s Hearth will reportedly use its grant to fund services vital to helping families gain permanent housing. Focused on supporting clients’ ability to become self-sufficient and escape poverty, the organization’s comprehensive program provides case management, life skills coaching, financial literacy workshops, referrals to GED and other educational programs, job search assistance, and more. Although Lucy’s Hearth is serving more families than ever before, 90 percent of those they work with achieve a positive outcome.

“Our work to help families get back on their feet has perhaps never been more important – or at times more challenging – than it is right now during the pandemic,” said Kelly A. Lee, Executive Director of Lucy’s Hearth in a statement. “Children and families need permanent, safe housing to thrive. BankRI not only shares that vision with us, but is a true partner in our mission to keep families together.”

With partnerships with three healthcare sites on Aquidneck Island, Reach Out & Read RI is committed to giving children a foundation for literacy success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read together. Its efforts begin at a child’s newborn checkup and continues through age 5, with children receiving a brand-new, developmentally appropriate book to keep following each well visit. Upon ‘graduating’ from the program, children will have received 14 books to build their home library. This year, and in response to concerns brought about by the coronavirus and civil unrest, Reach Out & Read RI has expanded its offerings to feature more social-emotional titles and books about diversity and inclusion. During the past year, the organization has provided more than 4,000 books to area children. 

“This year has been a defining moment, and helping us navigate a complicated landscape has been our ability to depend on community leadership,” said Autumn Payne, Executive Director of RORRI. “We are both grateful and proud to be able to count on BankRI to be there for children across Aquidneck Island.”

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp, LLC. Belmore has led What's Up Newp since December 2012. Belmore also serves as the Sr. Editor - North America for Mountain News - publisher of OnTheSnow. In his spare time, Belmore serves as the Vice President for the Board of Directors at Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors at Lucy's Hearth. Belmore is also a member and supporter of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.