Dozens of nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents will share more than $350,000 in grants through the Rhode Island Foundation’s Newport County Fund. The funding will support work ranging from housing and summer youth programs to food pantries and behavioral health.
“At a time when the impact of COVID-19 continues to ripple through the lives and work of many, we’re fortunate to have the resources to support organizations that are on the frontlines of recovery in Newport County,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful for the donors who make it possible for us to support organizations that are well-positioned to respond every day to community needs.”
Conexion Latino in Newport, FabNewport, the Jamestown Community Food Pantry, Newport Mental Health in Middletown and the Washington Square Cooperative Services are among the 48 organizations that will share the funding.
Aquidneck Community Table received $6,600 to support its Root Riders program, which provides summer jobs to island high school students tending school and community gardens in Newport’s North End. “As students care for the gardens, they develop leadership skills, acquire horticultural knowledge, practice safe biking in a group and serve their community by sharing fresh produce,” said Bevan Linsley, executive director. “Last summer they mentored summer campers in the gardens at the Big Blue Bike Barn, visited the gardens at Newport Restoration Foundation’s Rough Point, worked in the kitchen at Plant City X and cooked a farewell feast with their produce at the Park Holm Senior Center,” said Linsley.
Best Buddiesof Massachusetts & Rhode Island received $2,500 to support its Newport County School Friendship initiative, which will support the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through one-to-one friendship programs and inclusive group activities and events from elementary school through college. “Participants in our school friendship programs acquire and practice social skills that are critical to their future success in the workplace and society. Studies have shown that strong social skills can help individuals with disabilities develop positive peer and familial relationships, succeed in school, and begin to successfully explore adult roles such as employee, co-worker, and community member,” said Patrick Shaughnessy, state director.
Bike Newport received $5,000 to buy bicycle helmets for students who participate in its in-school Bicycle Education Program in partnership with Newport Public Schools. The organization estimates the grant will enable it to give helmets to around 300 children. “Because in-school education is the best way to consistently and equitably reach the greatest number of Newport youth, we work directly with school faculty to train the staff so they can take the lead on the teaching and spreading of grade-appropriate bicycle education K-12,” said Bari Freeman, executive director. “As students advance and near the end of the program, they will earn the high-visibility signature helmet, in recognition of their progress. When they take it home with them permanently, it will be a point of pride, incentivize them to keep riding, and improve their safety every time they hop on a bike,” she said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County in Newport received $9,978 to install a portable pool chair lift that can be used by guests of all ages who cannot use the stairs due to mobility issues to safely enter and exit the pool. “Our pool is the only community pool in Newport. The goal of this project is to remove a barrier and provide those with mobility issues with access to a pool so they, too, can enjoy the activity and reap the health benefits,” said Joe Pratt, executive director and CEO.
Child and Family in Middletown received $10,000 to supplement its supportive housing program. The initiative is expected to provide safe, secure housing to as many as 12 homeless Newport families with children. “We are uniquely positioned to provide families with the support they need to either avoid contact with the child welfare system, or successfully reunify parents with children who have been placed in foster care due to lack of stable housing,” said Marty Sinnott, president and CEO. The organization provides participants with wraparound case management and access to a continuum of care that provides the resources necessary for them to eventually secure permanent housing and improve the overall health and wellbeing of their families. “As part of their participation in the program, families have access to our evidence-based family preservation programs. Our focus on connecting families to care is what makes our program successful in keeping families together and keeping children out of the costly child welfare system,” said Sinnott.
Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $4,000 to support its Blue Access for All initiative, which connects children with the bay, coastline and local ecosystems. The program is expected to serve approximately 120 children. “Many Newport County children do not get to enjoy healthy outdoor activities along our local coastlines. The Blue Access for All program, powered by Clean Ocean Access, gives the youth we service new opportunities for healthy activities to improve fitness levels, empower self-discipline and motivation, while maintaining an active lifestyle by connecting with the ocean, coastline, and local ecosystems,” said Pam Cook, executive director.
The Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation in Jamestown received $10,000 to support its STEAM Ocean Initiative, which serves students in Jamestown schools. “We seek to enrich the elementary and middle school curricula with hands-on, experiential learning activities that enable students to apply what they learn in the classroom to the marine environment,” said Meg Myles, executive director. The program inspires young ocean and environmental stewards by engaging and educating over 500 elementary and middle school students each year. It was designed to address the gap between traditional and applied learning as it currently exists in science education. “By delivering engaging, hands-on activities to elementary and middle school students, we will enable them to better understand scientific concepts and see their relevance in real world applications,” said Myles.
Conexion Latina Newport received $10,000 to support its housing outreach program targeting residents who identify as Latinx. The organization estimates it gets 5-10 requests for help with housing a week. “The Hispanic community struggles greatly with housing security, affordable housing and cultural biases related to housing, and we have worked hard to combat these inequities and insecurities. Because of language and culture barriers, this relationship will benefit both renters and landlords because we will be able to serve as a go-between and help each party understand their responsibilities and cultural expectations,” said Rebekah Rosen-Gomez, executive director. The grant will be used to enable the organization’s director of operations to spend more time on working on housing outreach. “Because the Hispanic community is the backbone of Newport’s tourism industry, helping them live close to work will also benefit the city in general, because it will bolster the local economy,” said Rosen-Gomez.
Day One, the only agency in Rhode Island specifically organized to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern, received $10,000 to provide evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse in Newport County. Last year, the organization supported over 350 children and adults 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 subsidize its pre-school program. Half the students are English Language Learners and 96 percent come from low-income households. “This funding lifts up families. Our program helps kids develop socially and emotionally in a nurturing, literacy-rich, experiential environment while helping their families move towards greater self-sufficiency. We holistically approach supporting the entire family with hunger-relief programs like the food pantry, cooking classes and community meals and wellness programs like yoga and cooking classes,” said Heather Hole Strout, executive director.
The East Bay Community Action Program in Newport received $5,000 to support its Baby Steps program, which provides family education sessions and family enrichment activities that engage family members as partners in the education of children through the age of four.
“Parents and caregivers are the most instrumental people in a child’s life, so developing effective parenting skills is vital. By promoting positive relationships and enhancing engagement, we can better prepare children and their families for the future,” said Rita Capotosto, vice president for family development.
ecoRINews received $6,500 to increase environmental reporting in Jamestown, Little Compton and Tiverton. It reports having an audience of 40,000 and a website that received nearly half a million visits in 2021. “Residents will benefit from increased environmental coverage, which will sharpen their understanding of complex environmental problems and solutions and more fully engage them in civic processes related to environmental planning and protection,” said Jo Detz, publisher. “As a trusted source of fact-based environmental news, ecoRI News is uniquely poised to deliver critical news free of charge to rural towns that lack consistent environmental news coverage in an era when understanding the local impacts of climate change is central to developing smart policy and community resilience,” said Detz.
Emmanuel Church in Newport received $7,080 to revive its monthly community meal program for needy residents. The grant will fund stipends for former food service workers as well as cover the cost of food. “COVID kept us from holding our traditional first Tuesday of the month community meal for two years, and also really hurt many in the restaurant industry. We want to engage former restaurant workers, giving them a chance to refresh their skills as restaurant work starts back up, sharing with us as hosts to build dignity and pride,” said The Rev. Della Wager Wells, Rector of Emmanuel Church.
FabNewport received $7,500 to provide transportation for approximately 90 middle school students who will participate in its NEX summer immersion program. The six-week program gives youngsters the opportunity to experience art, sailing, golf, farming, music, surfing and hiking among other activities. “Lack of transportation is a key barrier for many under-resourced families when it comes to accessing the array of opportunities and experiences children from higher income families are able to participate in,” said Steve Heath, executive director.
Gnome Surf in Little Compton received $7,500 to add instructors at its Little Compton and Second Beach in Middletown sites, expand camps and develop an off-season surf fit program. The Little Compton-based nonprofit offers surf therapy, art therapy, eco therapy and yoga therapy to children and families of all abilities, including youth on the autism spectrum, youth with Down’s syndrome and youth who identify as LGBTQ. “Our goal is to bring the peace, calm and confidence of surf therapy to children of all abilities. We work primarily with children with special needs to introduce them the joy and stoke of the ocean regardless of ability to pay. So many find joy and confidence when challenged with this new and exciting opportunity,” said Christopher Antao, founder and executive director. In 2021 the organization used a $5,000 grant from the Newport County Fund in order to establish a secondary site at Second Beach in Middletown with weekly lessons offered by one instructor as well as two, two-week summer camps in partnership with FabNewport to introduce youth to surf therapy. “We were able to establish ties with existing surf lesson companies and the Middletown Town Council to show how our work benefits the community. Building these ties was key for our first year. This year we want to build upon that by increasing the number of instructors at Second Beach to four, adding more scholarship opportunities, continuing with FabNewport to offer camp and establishing an off-season SurfFit program with the Newport County YMCA in order to continue the healing benefits year round,” said Antao.
The Herren Project in Portsmouth received $7,500 to partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County on a pilot program designed to meet the critical need for prevention, mental health and intervention strategies for children and adolescents and their families. “COVID-19 has exacerbated behavioral health and substance use disorder issues. People of all ages in need of mental health and substance use care are unable to access services in a timely manner due to provider shortages, and it is only expected to continue, especially in underserved communities. We’ll build protective factors, connect vulnerable populations to community services and support community resilience in the face of the challenges Rhode Islanders face today,” said Bonnie Sawyer, executive director.
Island Moving Company in Newport received $10,000 to support its Dancing Through Boundaries program, a comprehensive educational program that serves 5,000 students across Newport County Schools annually. The goal is to improve academic performance in math, literacy and creativity. “Our programs use dance as a multi-modal learning strategy to reinforce core curriculum standards and support student’s gain in key subjects. The program provides arts & cultural enrichment, alternative methods for improving student’s physical and emotional well-being, and creates access to pre-professional dance training to deserving students who have limited financial resources,” said Peter Bramante, executive director.
The grant supports programs at the Pell Elementary School in Newport and the Wilbur & McMahon School in Little Compton.
“There is a great need to help struggling students so they may make gains in academic, social and emotional learning. Our programs provide students with additional learning tools, which helps non-traditional or disengaged learners increase their appetite for learning and inspire higher academic achievement,” said Bramante.
The James L. Maher Center in Middletown received $9,866 to expand its “Fresh” initiative, which blends planting and cultivating fresh vegetables with nutrition counseling, meal preparation and culinary skills training. The work includes hiring a part-time chef in order to increase the food service program’s capacity; installing improved lighting; and buying blenders and other small appliances in order to provide meals that meet special dietary requirements. “The initiative is both a valuable self-contained program and a springboard for more formal vocational training currently under development. This will address the dietary needs of our clients with developmental and other disabilities as well as teaching basic food preparation and kitchen safety skills to foster independence and healthy lifestyles,” said Lynne Maher, executive director.
The Jamestown Arts Center received $10,000 to support its Free Community Arts Experiences program, which will offer a diverse array of arts experiences for residents to enjoy and learn from in socially-distanced formats. “Our programs emphasize children and families, because early arts experiences can shape how children learn and how they engage civically. Engagement initiatives also prioritize residents who face barriers to participation in the arts, including people with disabilities, the elderly and economically disadvantaged families,” said Maureen Coleman, executive director.Plans call for a year-long series of free arts events, workshops and collaborative art-making. The initiative will feature partnerships with local schools and multiple community organizations for community engagement as well as program implementation. “The programs are designed to reduce barriers to the benefits of arts experiences among community members who have been facing social isolation, increased stress and anxiety, and grief,” said Coleman “The initiative builds on knowledge gained from programming introduced during the first two years of the pandemic and leverages an outdoor art exhibition that is highly visible in publicly accessible spaces. The program will also bring the joy of the arts to address an ongoing need in the community for constructive creative outlets, respite from daily stresses and fun, social engagement with others.”
The Jamestown Community Chorus received $2,600 to expand its “Everybody Chorus,” where anyone of any age and singing ability is welcome to come to sing in unison. “We do not use musical scores, but only provide lyrics and accompaniment. We would like to expand our reach further into the communities to encourage membership and provide pandemic relief by providing concerts and sing-a-longs in various places,” said Patricia Perry, secretary of the organization. The two choruses will perform on the same program. The Jamestown Community Chorus will sing choral music in 4-part harmony and the Everyone Chorus will perform popular music, show tunes and folk tunes. “We want to expand our reach into the communities by going into areas off island rather than staying on Jamestown. We plan to use outside areas so that it is as safe as possible. We will have a concert of several pieces and then encourage the attendees to join us in a sing-a-long style. We will be providing song books to everyone. We are also thinking of holding events in such places as parks, libraries, senior centers, nursing homes or farmers’ markets,” said Perry.
The Jamestown Community Food Pantry received $10,000 to re-stock its facility on Narragansett Avenue. The pantry, which is the only source of free meat, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, fresh produce and basic household supplies on the island, serves more than 70 Jamestown households comprising nearly 130 people. “The coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of persons relying on our food pantry while we face higher food costs and the loss of perishable food donations from retailers facing their own product supply challenges. These funds could not have come at a better time,” said Deborah Nordstrom, co-director. In addition to food, the organization offers personal care items, pet food, and, in the colder months hats, gloves and socks for those who may need them. “The beneficiaries of this program are those in Jamestown who need emergency food help when budgets are tight. Without our services, the needy in Jamestown would need to travel across one of the bridges to another food pantry and many of our clients are shut-ins or don’t have reliable transportation,” said Nordstrom.
The Jamestown Community Piano Association received $3,000 to stage live performances as the organization strives to re-build its audience in the wake of COVID shut-downs. “During the past two years, we have, like other performance organization, been unable to provide live performances, although we have retained much of our audience by sponsoring videoed concerts. Luring them back to live concerts is the challenge,” said Rosemary Enright, director. The organization will use its grant to sponsor performances by well-known pianists that are likely to attract patrons who have lost the habit of attending live concerts in person. “Good music is a need everywhere. In a small town, such as Jamestown, quality live music is not easily available. Many older people, who in younger days attended concerts in Newport or Providence, are no longer comfortable traveling. Children take music lessons but never hear or see a professional musician perform. Our goal is to bring quality musical performances closer to everyone in the community,” said Enright.
The Katie Brown Educational Program (KBEP) received $6,500 to provide evidence-based, relationship violence prevention education to Jamestown, Little Compton, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton students in grades 4-12. Through the KBEP students learn skills necessary to recognize, avoid, and prevent relationship violence by shifting unhealthy attitudes and changing behaviors. “We believe all young people need age-appropriate relationship violence prevention education in order to be able to build and maintain healthy relationships. The effect this pandemic has had on young people is something that we have only scratched the surface of, so the need for programs like ours is more important, more necessary and more needed than ever before,” said Claire McVicker, executive director.
The Little Compton Community Center received $10,000 to support its Senior Lunch Program. The center prepares meals for pick up, for home delivery and to be served in its dining room. “While this long-standing program has always seen consistent enrollment, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic it has grown exponentially. Now, we typically serve between 35-50 meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for a weekly average of around 130 meals. This has risen from a weekly average of around 60 meals per week in 2019,” said Samantha Snow, communications director. Since COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, the organization has returned to serving meals in the center’s dining room. In addition, meals can be served outdoors on the facility’s patio during the summer. “Our warm and inviting dining room encourages invaluable social interaction and engagement. Delivering meals to home-bound seniors is part of the web of caring people who ensure no one in our community falls through the cracks,” said Snow.
The Little Compton Historical Society received $10,000 to research the history of the Indigenous people of the area as part of its “History of the Sakonnet People” project. We’ll bring on experts in the Wampanoag language, Wampanoag geneaology research and historic surveying techniques to guide us in our research of the Sakonnet people, the original inhabitants of what is now Little Compton, Rhode Island,” said Marjory O’Toole, executive director. The organization plans to share the results of its research with the public with a book, a special exhibition and a series of public programs in 2025, which is the 350th anniversary of the English settlement of Sakonnet, now Little Compton. “We will focus on Sakonnet geneaology as a way to help understand the history of the Sakonnets and make connections to living Sakonnet descendents. We are currently unaware of any living Indigenous person who identifies as Sakonnet, but the historic record suggests there must be hundreds of Sakonnets descendents living today,” said O’Toole.
Live & Learn in Jamestown received $10,000 to purchase additional and upgraded kitchen equipment and supplies, growing equipment and supplies, and computing equipment. The organization supports entrepreneurship, creative problem-solving and community-based, innovative approaches to community issues. “We have reached capacity on our ability to create and grow the baked goods, plants and vegetables that we donate to shelters, seniors, public servants and individuals,” said Gina Malloy, executive director. The equipment will include two new steel prep tables, a chest freezer, two new stand mixers, bulk bins to store food supplies, an additional sink, three shelving units for growing, additional LED grow lights and planting supplies. “Additional equipment would allow us to grow further, engaging more of the community and reaching further and more often to the underserved populations that we support. This past year, we’ve had to turn participants away from helping in our efforts because we lack the equipment for more people to work on. In the coming year, we would like to embrace that community enthusiasm and turn it into greater entrepreneurial and wellness learning and increased output for those in need around us,” said Malloy.
Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown received $10,000 to support an on-site counselor during the evening and overnight hours at the shelter, which serves approximately 160 adults and children. “Residents are healing from the victimization and trauma that come along with one or multiple episodes of homelessness. Our counselors serve as a positive model of adult behavior; encourage resident involvement in all phases of the shelter program; enforce rules and policies in an explicit and consistent way to ensure the safety of all residents; monitor activities within the building and immediate surrounding property; support residents to attain basic daily living skills; maintain; and provide emergency or crisis intervention techniques when necessary,” said Ashley Salemi, director.
Meals on Wheels received $5,000 to support its work providing home-delivered meals to Newport County seniors and other homebound adults. In 2021, organization served more than 30,000 meals, a 30 percent increase since 2019. “Our goal is to enable people to remain living independently for as long as possible by addressing the issues of food insecurity and social isolation that are known risk factors for negative health outcomes. Every meal we deliver represents a time when a client receives a vital well-being check and a critical opportunity for socialization that directly works to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness associated with their homebound status,” said Meghan Grady, executive director.
MENTOR Rhode Island received $10,000 to support the Aquidneck Island Mentoring (AIM) program, which matches children with multiple risk factors with a volunteer mentor from the community who is recruited, screened, trained, matched and supported by the organization. “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.”
Newport Classical received $5,000 to support its free, year-round concert series that brings open-air, classical music concerts to community-centered locations across Aquidneck Island. “These events are opportunities for Newport residents of all backgrounds to come together and celebrate community. We are committed to ensuring that engaging and inspiring classical music experiences are inclusive and easily accessible to all members of the community by transforming underutilized neighborhood green spaces into beautiful performance areas,” said Gillian Friedman Fox, executive director.
The Newport Community School received $10,000 to support its One Stop Hybrid Career and Employment Services program, which offers employment and training program services for people who are unemployed or under-employed. The organization expects to serve about 150 people. “When they leave our program, graduates will be workforce ready, have a pathway to employment, secure professional certifications and have a job in hand. This not only addresses the needs of area businesses that are desperate for skilled labor, but ensures participants can reach their full potential,” said Tracy L. Shea, executive director.
Newport FILM received $5,000 to launch a pilot nonfiction story-telling program, in partnership with FabNewport, the Met School and Creative Communities Collaborative, anchored at the Florence Gray Center in the city’s North End. “Through documentary storytelling, we will build meaningful bridges towards intercultural awareness and understanding, ideally supporting already existing access and inclusion efforts underway across the city of Newport,” said Cathleen Carr, executive director.
The Newport Gulls received $5,000 to enable 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 enables us to give a children with disadvantages an opportunity to attend a summer camp; to learn the game of baseball and to develop social skills while keeping them engaged during summer vacation. Delivering crucial messages about education and promoting the importance of health and wellness will have a long-lasting impact on young boys and girls,” said Chuck Paiva, general manager.
Newport Mental Health in Middletown received $10,000 to transport clients to behavioral health and medical appointments. The organization expects the funding will cover the cost of hundreds of rides for clients. “Frequently public transportation is not a viable option due to service routes not including our clinical locations. Providing transportation increases access to medical and mental health care, which reduces the need for costly hospitalization thereby providing better outcomes for our clients,” said Jamie Lehane, president and CEO.
Newport Partnership for Families received $7,000 to support its Reading Reaps Rewards’ Summer Learning Initiative. The program serves 235 Pell elementary students across four city sites: Newport Family & Child Opportunity Zone’s Summer Learning Academy at Thompson Middle School, the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the Newport County YMCA. “We focus on Newport children who are at the greatest risk of falling behind in literacy based on STAR testing and classroom performance. The primary objective is to reduce reading regression, or ‘summer slide,’ by assisting entering Grade 1 through 4 students in either maintaining or improving their literacy skills,” said Kathleen Burke, executive director.
The Newport String Project received $5,000 to support its after-school program for children and a professional chamber music series led by the Newport String Quartet. In partnership with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, the organization will provide free violin, viola and cello lessons to at least 40 students from pre-K through high school. “We provide a rigorous curriculum of free weekly group and individual lessons that build self-confidence, leadership and creativity during the high-risk after-school hours. Our model demonstrates the transformative power of music to strengthen skills such as teamwork, discipline, creativity, problem-solving, empathy, and self-control,” said Ealain McMullin, program director and co-founder.
The Newport Tree Conservancy received $4,400 to support planting 100 trees in the Health Equity Zone in Miantonomi Park. According to the organization, the neighborhood contains only 7.5 percent of the city’s open space, but is home to 55 percent of Newport’s children under the age of 14 and 24 percent of students at the local public elementary school live under the poverty line. “By engaging a neighborhood that has historically been underserved, we will work hand in-hand with the community to establish a natural and cultural resource that will become an increasingly recognized point of pride for their neighborhood,” said Natasha Harrison, executive director.
The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown received $5,000 to buy a sensory tub station and support the creation of a science drawing station and a literacy corner for its new Curiosity Lab. The space, which will encourage children to explore STEAM, is schedule to open in September. “Our multi-generational, place-based lab will assist the stewardship formed before or after hiking our seven miles of trails. This new space will engage visitors and members to nurture a love for nature and science that can enhance their ability to identify with science,” said Kaity Ryan, executive director.
Sail Newport received $10,000 to support its 4th Grade Science and Sailing Program at Pell Elementary School. The 16-week program, which is provided during the school day, takes place on Narragansett Bay, along the shoreline and in the organization’s shore-side classroom. In the school year that just ended, nearly 150 children participated. “The overarching goal of this impactful collaboration with the Newport School Department is to deliver engaging content that meets the district’s STEM curriculum guidelines combined with the experiential aspect of an on-the-water sailing program. The program enforces and compliments the students’ classroom learning, while concurrently deepening their sense of connection to their natural environment,” said Brad Read, executive director.
The Salvation Army – Newport Corps received $5,000 to support its Pathway of Hope initiative, which primarily families of color. The program will serve up to seven families at a time with case management for up to two years. “The program is a holistic, long-term approach to helping families with at least one child under the age of 18 overcome poverty by increasing their self-sufficiency and overall stability. It encompasses intensive, strengths-based case management, along with limited financial assistance, for families desiring to take action,” said Maj. Roger Duperree, state coordinator.
Save The Bay received $10,000 to provide environmental and STEM education programs to approximately 350 students at Newport’s Pell Elementary and Thompson Middle schools. In addition to classroom activities, students will participate in a marine science cruise on Narragansett Bay and plant dune grass to restore shoreline habitat at Easton’s Beach. “By providing hands-on, STEM-based environmental education programming, we hope to inspire a new generation of Bay stewards actively engaged in protecting Narragansett Bay and its watershed,” said Jonathan Stone, executive director.
Shri Service Corps received $3,370 to support its Adaptive Yoga Project at Looking Upwards in Middletown and the Seniors Yoga Project at the Jamestown Food Pantry. The Adaptive Yoga Project serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities while the Seniors Yoga Project serves residents ages 55 and up. “The people we serve are often isolated and a skilled yoga program is out of reach; this grant, however, allows us to joyfully bring together people with our unique curriculum helping students reduce stress, improve focus and increase physical and emotional balance in inclusive settings,” said Alison Bologna, executive director.
The St. Joseph Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Newport received $8,500 to provide emergency financial assistance to residents facing emergencies, including eviction, utility shut-offs, lack of home heating oil, need of prescription drugs and clothing among other needs. “We receive requests continuously throughout the year. The majority of requests are for rent, followed by utilities. The assistance we are able to provide varies according to circumstance and needs, but our most common outcome is keeping individuals or families sheltered in their homes with utilities,” said Victory Walsh, president.
The Star Kids Scholarship Program received $6,000 to provide one-on-one tutoring, school transportation and after-school and summer camp opportunities for at-risk Newport County children and youth in grades K-12 for the 2022-23 school year. “Some students require tutoring because they are moving to institutions with higher academic expectations. Others face personal or family challenges that make it difficult to focus on their schoolwork. And, clearly, the pandemic wreaked havoc on children’s learning, which now necessitates additional support to help mitigate the negative impacts of distance learning,” said Kathy Giblin Stark, executive director.
Turning Around Ministries in Newport received $10,000 to provide case management and job readiness services to under-served and at-risk persons living in the community who face homelessness, poverty, debt, addiction and unemployment. “During these difficult times, people are facing a myriad of challenges. We help them bridge that daunting period by offering comprehensive long-term services and support. It has been proven that by helping those in need to have a better life, the entire community benefits,” said Cheryl Robinson, president.
Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice in Middletown received $5,500 to provide professional development and support at all levels of the organization, which serves residents throughout Newport County.”Board members, management and clinical staff will be equipped to navigate changes in the health care arena that have been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. The trainings will ensure that our patients benefit from every opportunity to optimize their health and well-being,” said Jennifer Fairbank, executive director.
The Washington Square Services Corp. in Newport received $10,000 to provide intensive case management services to homeless men and women at the McKinney Cooperative Shelter. The shelter serves more than 40 people a day and over 100 individuals through the course of each year, according to the organization. “Providing shelter is the first step to helping people obtain permanent housing, benefits and employment. The overall stress of COVID has caused increased anxiety and depression among those homeless individuals who are already struggling with mental health issues. Providing supportive services and a stable living environment is paramount to improving the overall health and well-being of those experiencing homelessness,” said Steve Ostiguy, president.
The Women’s Resource Center received $5,000 to support resident leaders as they begin implementing the Newport Health Equity Zone Collaborative’s North End Equitable Development Strategy, which focuses on housing affordability and open green and civic spaces. The work will include expanding the base of North End residents involved in advocacy as well as making significant progress in coalition-building with individuals, organizations and other constituencies. “With support from the Collaborative, resident leaders are poised to pivot toward advocating for the priorities set forth in the plan, which will require broad coalition-building and advocacy with the city and developers. They will require continued access to expertise, technical assistance and legal representation,” said Jessica Walsh, executive director.
The Newport County Fund awards grants of up $10,000 to strengthen or expand established programs, to support policy or advocacy efforts on behalf of community concerns, to fund new projects that focus on significant problems or opportunities, and to leverage strategic collaborations and partnerships. 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 Fund has awarded $5.3 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. It is just one of the grant programs that enable the Foundation to serve Newport County communities.
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 $98 million and awarded $76 million in grants in 2021. 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 rifoundation.org.