Blue Cross Fuels Innovative Mobile Food Markets

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has established a partnership with Elisha Project, a food rescue organization that prevents food waste while supplying nutritious foods to Rhode Islanders experiencing food insecurity.

“This is an exciting new partnership for us,” said Managing Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Carolyn Belisle. “Elisha’s mission dovetails perfectly with our goal of comprehensive health and well-being for all Rhode Islanders. Access to healthy food is a critical driver of whole health, and Blue Cross is committed to increasing access to nutrition and other resources Rhode Islanders need to achieve their best health.”

Elisha Project Co-Founder George Ortiz concurred. “We are not a traditional food pantry,” he said. “Elisha focuses on rescuing fresh foods, especially protein, vegetables, and fruits, foods that are in scarce supply for the people who need them most. We recognize the tremendous health benefits of eating fresh food. People who are struggling socio-economically are often relegated to eating pre-packaged and inexpensive food high in sugar and saturated fats. These limited options can lead to dangerous health conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Fresh, nutritious food is expensive. With its emphasis on keeping Rhode Islanders healthy, Blue Cross is a logical – and welcome – partner for the Project.”

The Project distributes food through its monthly share markets, which are currently held as drive-up events. Dates for the share markets for the remainder of 2022 are the following Saturdays (locations are not yet final except for the market on 4/30 at 786 Elmwood Avenue in Providence):  7/16, 8/20, 9/17, 10/22, 11/19, and 12/24. Each family of four can be expected to receive approximately 25 lbs. of nutritious, fresh food including protein, fruits, and vegetables, in addition to other needed household items like diapers and personal care items. Recipients can also find recipe cards in English and Spanish, to provide suggestions for preparing the food they receive.

The Project depends on volunteers to pack boxes and bags for share markets, to drive trucks and perform other tasks. In the past three years, more than 150,000 people have followed the Project on its three social media platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter – where the Project also recruits its volunteers – and every market “sells out.” At the March 23 market, more than 45,000 pounds of food and other items were distributed. “We had nothing left over,” notes Ortiz.

In addition to BCBSRI, the Project partners with local colleges and universities and local businesses. A longstanding partner is Seven Stars Bakery, which loans the Project warehouse space in Pawtucket.

RI Foundation, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI Recognize Effective Nonprofits

The Rhode Island Foundation honored three nonprofit organizations with its annual Best Practice Awards. The work that is being honored includes an initiative to support Latino-owned small businesses and a community gardening program that grew one ton of fresh produce for a local food pantry.

Sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the award program recognizes outstanding practices by Rhode Island nonprofit organizations in the area of collaboration, with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The three recipients will each receive $5,000 grants in recognition of their achievements.

The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown was honored for its “Good Gardens Program,” which focuses on growing produce for the food pantry at Newport’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. In 2021, over a ton of fresh fruit and vegetables was donated.  The initiative is a collaboration with the MLK Center and the URI Master Gardeners. It includes a summer program that introduces kids to gardening.

The Woonsocket Afterschool Coalition was honored for doubling the number of school children receiving services. The Riverzedge Arts Project is one of six nonprofit organizations that comprise the coalition.

The Coalition aims to increase the number of students receiving services by an additional 4,000 in the next three years. The other partners are the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northern R.I., the Community Care Alliance, Connecting for Children and Families, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and the Woonsocket YMCA.

The Rhode Island Israel Collaborative in Providence was honored for its R.I. Latino Biz Web Design Project, which matched skilled local students with Latino-owned businesses in Rhode Island to create websites in order to keep up with the move to e-commerce during COVID-19.

In partnership with the R.I. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 31 Latino-owned businesses were paired with students from Providence College and other local colleges to create websites using Israeli WIX, a cloud-based, web development platform located in Israel. The Israel General Consulate to the New England and other donors helped fund the project.

 

Jewish Alliance Raises $250,000 in Ukraine Aid

The Jewish Alliance announced that the Jewish community has raised close to $250,000 to be sent oversees to partners on the frontlines, such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee working in eastern Europe supporting Ukrainians in need.

The money will be used by relief organizations in eastern Europe to purchase humanitarian supplies for Ukrainian refugees, such as food, medications, clothing, and hygiene supplies, as well as housing within Ukraine and within bordering countries. The alliance has a partnership with the Jewish Community Center in Warsaw, Poland, that is currently aiding Ukrainian refugees.

BankNewport 2021 Philanthropic Efforts Resulted in Over $1.2 Million Awarded to Over 350 RI Nonprofits

BankNewport announced that its 2021 philanthropic efforts resulted in over $1.2 million awarded to over 350 nonprofits in Rhode Island. The donations include all grants, sponsorships, community contributions from local branches, and year-end proactive and holiday support totaling $74,000 to nonprofits that meet basic needs for the underserved throughout Rhode Island.

Organizations in every county of Rhode Island benefitted from the giving effort, with areas of impact focused on basic human needs, children & families, education, economic security, healthy living, arts and culture and the environment. Over the past 11 years, BankNewport has awarded $7 million in grants, sponsorships, and donations to a wide range of nonprofits to help strengthen and enrich lives and communities throughout the state.

Financial education and community involvement by Bank employees in 2021 totaled over 7,300 hours. Through BNWise, BankNewport’s financial education program, over 2,500 students and community members were engaged in interactive financial education presentations on a variety of topics, from saving and budgeting to credit and entrepreneurship, which were made available in-person and virtually.

BankNewport also presented two high profile campaigns generating statewide awareness of food insecurity and for those organizations serving Rhode Island’s homeless population: Kind Souls Full Bowls benefitted the with a $50,000 Bank gift and over $7,500 raised from the community, and Kind Heart Fresh Start collected over 4,700 personal care items impacting more than 1,000 individuals in need with a $50,000 Bank gift and over $7,500 raised from the community, and Kind Heart Fresh Start collected over 4,700 personal care items impacting more than 1,000 individuals in need.

 

Rhode Island Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund Awards $105,000 in Grants

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $105,000 in grants to nonprofits serving the state’s Black community through its Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.

The fund supports nonprofits that offer youth development and mentoring, promote the history and achievements of Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the Black community and strive to uplift low-income Black Rhode Islanders.

Fifteen organizations received grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.  Recipients include:

  • Mixed Magic Theatre & Cultural Events
  • YMCA of Pawtucket
  • Rhode Island Slave History Medallions
  • AS220
  • College Visions
  • The Everett School
  • The John Hope Settlement House
  • A Leadership Journey
  • Mt. Hope Learning Center
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success
  • New Urban Arts
  • The Nonviolence Institute
  • Oasis International
  • Providence Promise
  • Rhode Island Black Storytellers

The fund also offers scholarships for Black students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care in college or a technical school. Last year, the fund awarded $55,300 to 24 recipients. The deadline to apply for 2022 scholarship assistance is April 18.

More information

$5.4 Million in CARES Act COVID-19 Aid Awarded to More than 160 Nonprofits

The Rhode Island Foundation announced the distribution of $5.4 million in federal CARES Act funding for COVID-19 relief to more than 160 nonprofits across the state. The grants cover the cost of housing, behavioral health services, health care, job training, food pantries and child care among other uses.

The Rhode Island Nonprofit Support Fund II was established jointly by Governor Dan McKee, through the Rhode Island Pandemic Recovery Office; and the Foundation last month. The grants average more than $32,000 and target services or direct assistance that respond to the COVID-19 pandemic impact on vulnerable individuals or communities.

The $5.4 million in grants includes an additional $900,000 in funding that became available after the Foundation began taking applications November 30.

Full list of grant recipients

Bank Newport Awards $74,000 in Family Support Grants

BankNewport awarded $74,000 in proactive grants to support the missions of 64 organizations throughout Rhode Island and to provide additional aid for the holiday season.

“As a true community bank, we are dedicated to making a positive impact around the state,” said Jack Murphy, President & CEO, BankNewport. “These organizations work tirelessly to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors receive the care and support they need every day.  We are so thankful for their efforts throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, when they go above and beyond to make the season a bit brighter for those in need.”

Twenty eight nonprofits in Providence County received grants, seven in Kent County, thirteen in Newport County, five in Washington County, and three in Bristol County.  Eighteen additional statewide nonprofits received grants.

Photo: Jessica Couto, vice president, branch sales manager at BankNewport’s newest branch in Warwick, joins Lara D’ Antuono, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick, at the Club’s holiday market.  The Boys & Girls Club used a BankNewport family support grant to purchase gifts for its holiday market, which allows parents and caregivers to shop for gifts for their children at no cost.

Champlin Foundation Awards $13.2 Million to Nonprofits Statewide

The Champlin Foundation announced today $13.2 million in capital funding to 126 nonprofit organizations serving a variety of priorities, including 17 first-time grantees. From building renovations and facility expansions to equipment upgrades and vehicle purchases, grants will help Rhode Island build back stronger.

This grant cycle builds on a round of $5.8 million in funding that was distributed in June for a 2021 total of $19 million.

Of the 126 organizations receiving funding, the greatest number of applicants came in the Social Services category, ranging from smaller projects like a storage shed for Amenity Aid to store basic care items for shelters, to larger initiatives like the work of Open Doors to provide transitional employment services to individuals with criminal records.

The first round of applications for 2022 grants will open on December 15th and close on January 15th. The second cycle will begin June 1, 2022, and close on July 1, 2022. A secondary track for campership grant applications will open in September 2022.

Full List of Grantees

Community Leaders Call for More Investment and Focus on Rhode Island’s Nonprofit Sector

Several community leaders — Mario Bueno of Progreso Latino, Anthony Hubbard of YouthBuild Preparatory Academy, Cortney Nicolato of United Way, and Daniel Schliefer of New Urban Arts — published a commentary piece in the Boston Globe on the importance of investing in the capacity and sustainability of the nonprofit sector.

Rhode Island can no longer overlook, and underfund, its nonprofit sector

Over the last 19 months, Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations have been the heart, hands and feet of Rhode Island’s relief and recovery efforts.  They provided food and shelter to Rhode Islanders in need. Helped underserved communities access testing and vaccines.  Supported children and families with the challenges of distance learning.  Provided physical and behavioral health care.  Helped isolated seniors connect with loved ones and services.  Provided support and training for small businesses and social entrepreneurs.  Trained workers for new jobs.  Uplifted somber days with beautiful music and art.

In some ways, the last year-and-a-half has been a story of unprecedented commitment and heroism. Faced with the confluence of health, economic, and racial justice crises, Rhode Island nonprofits rose to the challenge of skyrocketing need. At great personal and organizational cost, they overcame public health restrictions, inadequate staffing, physical and emotional exhaustion, and fundraising limitations to deliver services in innovative ways. They were a lifeline to thousands of Rhode Islanders during their darkest moments.

In other ways, the commitment and heroism displayed by our state’s nonprofits during the pandemic is completely normal. It is what happens when organizations are driven by mission and collective social benefit.

Every single day, pandemic or not, quiet, essential work is done across Rhode Island by nonprofit organizations.  Skilled, dedicated, compassionate staff work with limited resources to care for our neighbors, empower our children, and build flourishing communities.  Community-based organizations provide the expertise, energy, and innovation to make the state’s vision for strong, equitable, prosperous cities and towns a reality. Every. Single. Day.

And every day, whether in times of crisis or plenty, the state depends on these same nonprofits to make Rhode Island lives and communities better.  Yet, at nearly every turn, this vital sector is under-resourced, stretched thin, and often taken for granted.

Like the steel beams that undergird our bridges, the crucial work of our state’s nonprofits is so integral to the health and well-being of our communities that it can easily be overlooked.  But like our physical infrastructure, our “civic infrastructure” of unheralded nonprofits, collaborative networks, and community-based initiatives cannot continue to carry the weight of our state’s critical needs without comprehensive, long-term investment.

Read More

United Way Invests $175,000 in Olneyville

United Way of Rhode Island has awarded a total of $175,029 in grants to 12 nonprofits for their work to create long-term change in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence where United Way is located. The community investments were awarded from United Way’s special Olneyville Fund and focus on supporting the Lift United goals of its LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan to create opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

A full list of grantee organizations is as follows:

  • Amenity Aid
  • Button Hole
  • Children’s Friend and Service
  • Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic
  • Farm Fresh RI
  • FirstWorks
  • Girls Rock! RI
  • Inspiring Minds
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Olneyville Branch: Providence Community Library
  • Reach Out and Read RI
  • YWCA Rhode Island

United Way established the Olneyville Community Fund in 2008 when it relocated to the neighborhood from the city’s East Side. Since, it has used the fund to invest more than $1.2 million to improve services for residents, increase the capacity of community-based organizations, and enhance public spaces.

Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island