Women’s Fund Signs Joint Statement on Sexism, Racism & Xenophobia; Encourages Women Candidates

On July 24, 2019, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island was proud to sign a joint statement by hundreds of sister funds condemning the recent attacks on four of our country’s elected officials who are women of color, in response to chants of “Send them back!” The statement reads: ” Women’s and Girls’ grantmakers, organizations and supporters across the country stand together in condemning the recent vitriol shown towards our country’s female elected officials, and in particular, female elected officials of color.”

To these attackers and their defenders, we say this: ‘You do not represent the shared values that move our country forward.  These values recognize and embrace leadership from all walks of life, recognizing the strength of diversity. For more than 100 years, American women have fought to gain our rightful place in our government institutions.  We will not back down. You cannot erase our presence, nor keep us from taking our place as leaders of this great democracy. As you continue to judge and demean people by gender, country of origin, and skin color, we will take the high road. We will judge people by character and by actions alone.  We will never stop speaking out against the words and actions of those driven by sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

The Women’s Funding Network, its members and partners are steadfast in their support of women of ALL backgrounds who serve and aspire to serve our country in an elected capacity.

We support the active participation in our democracy by those who were not born here, but who have worked hard to become citizens and have pledged their loyalty to our country.  America has always been a country of immigrants. We do not turn our backs on these citizens, and we will not stand to let the actions of a few diminish the valuable contributions they have made to our society.

Your words were intended to divide. They did not. Together we stand, more united than ever.

This past Saturday, WFRI joined with the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts and VoteRunLead to provide training to 60 women considering a run for political office. Participants practiced campaign “stump” speeches on the changes they wanted to make in their communities. When WFRI last ran this program in 2017, 18% of the participants ran for office and of those who ran, 60% won their seats.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S Constitution became law on August 26, 1920, giving women the right to vote. This date is now recognized nationwide as Women’s Equality Day. In preparation for the 100th Anniversary of this landmark decision, several organizations and volunteers are banding together to increase voter registration and the number of people voting in 2020.

WFRI will be hosting a training for volunteers on Aug. 26 from 3:00-4:30 pm in the State House Library on the RI voter registration process. Afterward, participants will gather on the State House steps for a picture and a commemorative “Toast to Tenacity” in tribute to the suffragists who fought for American women’s right to vote and in recognition that true gender equity for all has not yet been achieved. GCRI members are invited to attend the Toast without having to go to the training.

Both programs are sponsored by the Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. Co-hosts include Vision2020, Planned Parenthood Votes! RI, RI NOW, The Woman Project, RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, RIDP Women’s Caucus, RI Democratic Women for Leadership and the RI Federation of Republican Women

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) Awards Second Round of Grants

Rhode Island schools, organizations, community centers, and artists were awarded $827,782 in the April 2019 round of grants from RISCA. The Arts Council’s board approved the awarding of these grants at its June meeting in Providence. These grants will go to support arts in education, community-based projects by organizations and individual artist fellowships and projects for this fiscal year. Statewide, 146 grants were awarded in response to applications received at RISCA’s April 1 deadline.

Governor Gina Raimondo applauded the recipients of these grants, saying, “I’m thrilled to support these grants awarded by the State Arts Council. The arts are a significant part of our economy—they represent jobs for artists and non-artists alike, and are part of the reason why Rhode Island is a destination for cultural tourism. The State’s investment in the arts contributes to the quality of life we enjoy and the education of all Rhode Islanders. I’m proud to live in a state that values the arts in our everyday lives.”

“We’re particularly pleased with this round of grant awards,” said Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the RISCA. “Programs in arts education and projects that support the work of artists in communities throughout our state contribute to our great quality of life here in Rhode Island.”

RISCA funds are matched by businesses, individuals, and earned income. The Council receives its support through an annual appropriation from the Rhode Island General Assembly and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Examples of projects supported in the current round of grants include: The PACE Org of RI in Woonsocket received $2,500 to complete a mural project with Riverzedge Arts to be painted on a concrete wall that is visible from the day center windows of PACE’s northern Rhode Island location. This project includes planning sessions where the youth of Riverzedge Arts and the elders at PACE work together to create a design that would later be painted.

School One in Providence received $3,000 to offer an Intergenerational Arts Program. The program brings together high school students and adults aged 65 and over to explore their creativity, learn theater skills, develop their powers of expression, and forge relationships across the generations. Unique to RI, the Intergenerational Arts Program uses theater to foster authentic collaboration and learning.

In partnership with Central Falls School District’s “Expanded Learning Communities,” artist Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez from Providence received $1,880 to offer summer-long Media Literacy & Media Production workshops to high school or middle school aged young people that will resource them with grounding in media analysis & provide practical skill-building in production using readily available tools such as the students’ phones.

Artist Alfonso Acevedo from Central Falls received $2,500 to continue his Millennium Art Factory Central Falls project, working with youth ages 6-20 providing free art workshop for students of all levels of experience to hone their art skills. The work the participants create is then exhibited around Central Falls and Pawtucket in local businesses and government buildings.

Artist Mishki Fern Thompson, Narragansett, from Charlestown will lead 10 free beading workshops around Washington County, RI. These workshops will introduce the public to Native American culture and Native traditions of beading arts, as well as how to create their own pieces of art. Half of the workshops are for youth ages 10-15, and half are for teens and adults ages 16 and up.

Oasis International in Providence received $2,250 in support of their 26th African Summer Bash. The Bash celebrates the cultural richness of African and other diverse ethnic groups in Southwest Providence – including the Cape Verdean community – through music, dance, food, and the arts. The Bash is a free, all-day festival with games and live entertainment for all ages.

The Autism Project in Johnston received $3,000 in support of “In Harmony”, a program in partnership with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School that provides music and social skills education to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The program includes a school year of weekly music education for 15-20 youth, ending with a public performance; and summer camp for 115 campers with music activities.

For a complete list of grant recipients go to https://risca.online/grants/grant-recipients-fy20-spring-cycle/

RI Foundation Grants Seed Local Medical Research

The Rhode Island Foundation is awarding more than $400,000 in seed funding to 17 promising medical research projects. The work ranges from developing data that could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of people suffering from opioid use disorder in hospital ERs to determining the impact of social media on the desire to drink.

The grants are designed to help early-career researchers advance projects to the point where they can compete for national funding. With this round of grants, the Foundation has awarded nearly $2.5 million since 2008.

“We are grateful that our generous donors provide the crucial source of seed funding that enables local researchers to purse promising medical advances,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Our hope is that their successes will bring about healthier lives as well as a healthier economy.”

Johnson & Wales University received $20,300 for “Using Social Media Comments to Reduce the Desire to Drink.” The study will be led by Jonathan Noel, assistant professor in the College of Health & Wellness.

The study will test whether comments left in response to a social media post can influence the desire to drink. The study will examine the effects of those responses, including warning messages from public health organizations and responsibility messages developed by the alcohol industry.

“My hypothesis is that the pro-drinking comments will increase the desire to drink, while anti-drinking and responsible-drinking messages will be a deterrent,” Noel said.

“Social media marketing is more than just the ad message. It’s surrounded by other information we might not notice, such as basic user engagement including comments, likes and shares. If a post or ad has been liked by a friend, you are given an incentive beyond what the ads are actually presenting,” said Noel.

“From what history has taught us regarding tobacco use, in order to really see a decrease in binge drinking and the consequences of alcohol use stemming from this form of advertising, we would need to change how people engage and interact with these ads,” he said.

Rhode Island Hospital received $24,914 for “Quality Improvement of Emergency Department Opioid Use Disorder Treatment.” The study will be led by Elizabeth Samuels, M.D., MPH, MHS.

“Emergency departments (ED) can be a key point of intervention for people treated for an opioid overdose. Each overdose we treat in the ED is an opportunity to provide harm reduction services and linkage to addiction treatment,” said Samuels.

The study will assess patient use of hospital emergency services with the aim of identifying ways to improve care, including harm reduction services, medication for addiction treatment, and counseling by recovery coaches.

“Opioid overdose patients seen in the ED are at high risk of repeat overdose and opioid overdose death. By understanding utilization barriers and how services could be improved, we aim to improve care for people who use opioids to prevent future overdoses and overdose death,” she said.

The other grants are:

  • Brown University received $25,000 for “Redox Control of Immunoregulatory Factors as Targeted Therapies for Inflammation,” led by George Lisi, Ph.D.
  • Brown University received $25,000 for “Alginate Gels for the Release of Immunomodulatory Cues in Ischemic Skin Flaps,” led by Fabiola Munarin, Ph.D.
  • Rhode Island College received $23,986 for “Genetic Basis of Zebrafish Embryonic Melanoctye Migration and Pattern Formation,” led by Larissa Patterson, Ph.D.
  • Rhode Island Hospital received $25,000 for “Effect of Moveable Niches Vesicles on the Development and Mitigation of Bone Marrow Failure,” led by Sicheng Wen, Ph.D.
  • The Miriam Hospital received $25,000 for “HIV Transmitted Drug Resistance and Transmission Networks in the Northern Dominican Republic,” led by Martha Sanchez, M.D.
  • The Miriam Hospital received $24,994.46 for “Understanding Barriers to Health Care among Recently Incarcerated High-risk Women,” led by Collette Sosnowy, Ph.D.
  • The Ocean State Research Institute received $25,000 for “Cardiopulmonary Fitness, Premature Vascular Aging and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in HIV,” led by Sebhat Erqou, Ph.D.
  • The Ocean State Research Institute received $25,000 for “Macrophages under Pressure in Right Ventricular Dysfunction Associated with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension,” led by Jamila Siamwala, Ph.D.
  • The University of Rhode Island received $25,000 for “Improving Dissemination of Technology-Delivered Physical Activity Interventions,” led by Lauren Bohlen, Ph.D.
  • The University of Rhode Island received $24,956 for “A Pilot Intervention to Reduce Sedentary Time among Older Adults Living in Senior Housing,” led by Mary Greaney, Ph.D.
  • The University of Rhode Island received $25,000 for “A Bioinspired in Situ Delivery Platform with Tunable Drug Release for Improved Cancer Therapy,” led by Jie Shen, Ph.D.
  • The University of Rhode Island received $25,000 for “The Effects of Obesity during Pregnancy on Offspring Pancreas DNA Methylation,” led by Maria Hoffman, Ph.D.
  • The University of Rhode Island received $25,000 for “Investigating Specialized Ribosomes and Gene Regulation in Francisella Tularensis,” led by Kathryn Ramsey, Ph.D.
  • The University of Rhode Island received $25,000 for “Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity Evaluation in Children with Cerebral Palsy,” led by Alessandra Adami, Ph.D.

LISC RI Celebrates New Neighborhood Health Station

GCRI member LISC RI celebrated the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls with members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation, project visionaries and leaders, funders, staff and residents. GCRI members Rhode Island Foundation and The Champlin Foundation were also significant partners in the development of the comprehensive new health facility.

LISC Rhode Island provided an investment of $12.2 million for the $15 million project which included an investment of $4.2 million in New Markets Tax Credits through the New Markets Support Company (NMSC), a Chicago-based, wholly-owned subsidiary of LISC and a syndicator of federal New Markets Tax Credits. These credits were part of an $85 million allocation to LISC from the U.S. Treasury Department that are used for transformational community development projects across the LISC footprint. The tax credit equity was combined with low interest loans from LISC and Morgan Stanley through LISC’s Healthy Futures FQHC Financing Fund II, an innovative loan fund to support Federally Qualified Health Centers that provide services designed to address social determinants of health. LISC also provided a pre-development grant of $50,000. At the end of the NMTC compliance period, the Blackstone Valley Neighborhood Health Station will retain nearly $3 million in equity as a result of LISC’s investment.

“LISC heard of the concept through our work leading the Pawtucket and Central Falls Health Equity Zone,” said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director of LISC Rhode Island. “Dr. Fine and Ray Lavoie wanted to change the way that residents thought about their health, and how they accessed health care. It was a new model and targeted one of Rhode Island’s most underserved communities. That kind of mission-driven project deserved our full support.”

Dr. Michael Fine, a member of the LISC PCF HEZ collaborative and the former director of the state health department, brought a particularly ambitious vision to the table. Together with Ray Lavoie, Executive Director of Blackstone Valley Community Health Care (BVCHC), and other members of its Leadership Team, they proposed creating a centralized facility that could provide residents with everything they might need to get and stay healthy, outside of the traditional healthcare system—and all within walking distance of their homes.

“It’s a new concept. It is Dr. Michael Fine’s vision of a Neighborhood Health Station, where 90 percent of the folks in the community can get 90 percent of their health care needs met. And, that is something new,” said Ray Lavoie, executive director of Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, at the Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls. “It will also sidestep the current structure, where everyone’s medical records are in different doctor’s offices and it is all silo-ed. This is a big step in the right direction.”

The team envisioned a Health Station that would provide comprehensive care, education and recreational opportunities for residents of Central Falls. The new facility will provide family doctors, pediatricians, emergency medicine specialists, nurses, obstetricians, midwives, social workers, behavioral health, dental, physical and occupational therapists, recovery coaches, health coaches, community health workers, translators, and educational programs. The facility provides a dedicated team for taking care of the residents of Central Falls with the goal of making it the healthiest community in Rhode Island.

The goal demands a new way of thinking about health care. Currently, the community is one of Rhode Island’s most underinvested and a third of the residents live in poverty, 27 percent have no health insurance, and per capita income is just more than $14,000. Latinos in this community face particularly high barriers that directly impact health, including poverty, high unemployment, lack of access to educational opportunities, and linguistic and cultural challenges.

“The health station will be a transformational project for this community,” said Cola. “LISC has invested extensively in affordable housing, workforce development, public safety, and childcare and early learning facilities in the Pawtucket and Central Falls communities. And for the past five years, we’ve also worked to improve the social determinants of health for residents. We’re proud to get behind this initiative in such a comprehensive way.”

The Health Station will be a hub for classes in nutrition, diabetes prevention, and financial literacy, as well as recreational opportunities, in addition to providing access to services. More culturally competent and readily-available doctors, dentists, and behavioral health specialists were seen as a critical component to improving the overall health of community members.

The Health Station goal to enroll 90 percent of residents in programs will empower an entire community to strive for optimal health and wellbeing. The facility will create more than 80 permanent full-time jobs, and change the health of thousands.