RI Foundation to Host Stakeholder Session on Public Education

The Rhode Island Foundation is hosting Make It Happen: World-Class Public Education for RI, a one-day event to convene parents, students, educators, administrators, business leaders, and community members to participate in collective brainstorming.

The event will be led and hosted by the Long-Term Education Planning Committee convened by the Foundation in late 2018. Throughout the year this senior-level group – which includes the Commissioner of Education and Chair of the Board of Education, labor leaders, traditional public school and public charter school representatives, business leaders, representatives from local higher education institutions, and nonprofits serving children and families – has been meeting regularly and have agreed to a vision, priorities, and strategies aimed at developing and sustaining a world-class public education system for our state over the next 10 years.

Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner Angélica M. Infante-Green is expected to attend.

RI Afterschool Report Released, Shows Need for Dedicated Funding

The Rhode Island Afterschool Network released “The State of Afterschool Learning Programs in Rhode Island 2019” report, supported by the GCRI members Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island.

The report provides an overview and highlights of the landscape of Out of School Time (OST) programs in Rhode Island, drawn from statewide convenings, stakeholder engagement, existing data and qualitative research.   

Several themes were highlighted in this report, particularly the benefit of engaging our children in structured, high-quality educational activities outside of school hours. Educational and developmental research demonstrates, and parents, teachers, childcare providers agree, to the importance of OST programs for promoting educational success, social and emotional learning, and racial equity for youth.  OST programs also support financial stability by allowing parents to remain productive and at work through the end of the business day. The report emphasizes that there is an opportunity to advance Rhode Island’s educational goals by supporting and investing in OST programs, and elevating and embedding oversight of OST programming within the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Full Report

BCBSRI Launches Rhode Island Life Index

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), through a partnership with the Brown University School of Public Health (Brown), unveiled a report summarizing a new data resource – the RI Life Index – based on interviews conducted with more than 2,200 Rhode Islanders about life factors influencing health and well-being in the state.

The survey results, representing Rhode Islanders’ perceptions about their own health and well-being, as well as that of their community, offer a first-of-its-kind, unique window into what state residents believe to be significant challenges as well as community strengths.

The RI Life Index showed strengths in the following areas: availability of safe and reliable transportation; access to affordable, nutritious food; availability and quality of civic, social, and healthcare services for seniors and the ability to age in place; and programs and services available for children. In contrast, respondents had lower perceptions of the availability of quality affordable housing, job opportunities and job training programs.

“At Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, our vision to passionately lead a state of health and well-being across Rhode Island was the impetus for creating this index. As a proud local company celebrating 80 years, we are committed to building a healthier Rhode Island,” said Kim Keck, BCBSRI president and CEO. “The RI Life Index confirms something we’ve seen reported at the national level – when it comes to health outcomes and overall well-being, zip code is more important than genetic code. Where people are born and live in Rhode Island has a profound impact on their lives.”

Keck continued, “Using the RI Life Index data as a foundation, for the first time in our company history we will launch BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG) focused on housing, complementing our existing philanthropic investments.”

BCBSRI unveiled the RI Life Index at an event that included remarks from Keck and Bess Marcus, Ph.D., dean of the Brown School of Public Health. Melissa Clark, Ph.D., professor of health service, policy and practice, and director of the Survey Research Center at the School of Public Health, presented the RI Life Index and talked about the research she and her team conducted.

“The School of Public Health worked to develop and ensure the highest quality data collection for the Life Index survey in order to capture the perceptions of health and well-being from Rhode Islanders,” said Brown professor of health service, policy and practice Melissa Clark. “As many residents of Rhode Island already know, social determinants of health, such as the cost of housing and employment issues, often make it incredibly challenging for many families to experience the highest quality of health and well-being.”

The RI Life Index survey was conducted in April and May 2019 with randomly selected Rhode Island residents from across the state. The survey focused on social determinants of health, as well as topic areas specific to older adults, children, social integration and access to healthcare. The survey also asked about the opioid epidemic, access to mental health and substance use treatment, discrimination in healthcare and emergency room use.

Using the data, percent of the possible (POP) scores were created for various aspects of health and well-being in a community. This allowed for the combination of multiple indicators into a single score, allowing for easier observation of targeted areas for improvement, as well as community strengths. Scores ranging from 0 to 100 show how close the community is to the ideal, with a higher POP score indicating moving toward a healthier community. Scores were also determined factoring in geography, age and income.

“The Rhode Island Life Index is truly a data resource, one that will guide us in how we assist boots-on-the-ground organizations in their essential work to improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders,” said Keck. “This is just the beginning. Armed with our vision and these data, BCBSRI will develop new approaches – and strengthen existing programs – to address health disparities and gaps in health outcomes. And that effort will start by directing our BACHG competitive grant program to support initiatives that result in more Rhode Islanders being able to access safe, healthy and stable housing in 2020.”

Citizens Celebrates Anniversary and Community Engagement

Citizens Bank is celebrating the five-year anniversary of becoming a public company this month by reflecting on the many ways it has been able to help Rhode Island communities reach their potential.

The Bank shared the following ways they have helped their communities grow over the past five years:

  • Employees have volunteered more than half a million hours to community organizations.
  • The Bank has invested roughly $70 million in programs to benefit local neighborhoods.
  • Employees have served annually on more than 700 boards or committees.
  • The Bank has invested over $3 billion in affordable housing and other projects to benefit communities.
  • Employees and partners have reached more than one million people with financial literacy programs.
  • The Bank has provided more than 27 million meals to our hungry neighbors in partnership with local food banks and pantries.

Congratulations to Citizens for this anniversary and their continued community engagement!

RIDOH Announces New Health Equity Zones

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced that expanded support and funding to three new communities to establish Health Equity Zones. East Providence, Cranston, and Providence’s West End neighborhood were chosen through a competitive process that drew nearly 20 applicants from communities across the State. These new communities will share approximately $1.4 million in funding with seven existing Health Equity Zones receiving support to continue their work in local communities.

RIDOH’s Health Equity Zone initiative is an innovative, place-based approach that brings people together to build healthy, resilient communities across Rhode Island. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to 80% of health outcomes are determined by factors outside clinical settings, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods. The model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaborate to address factors like these and create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

“We are thrilled to expand our Health Equity Zones initiative to additional Rhode Island communities,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “With plans for strong mentorship from existing Health Equity Zones, these communities are taking the forces that shape their health and well-being into their own hands. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next few years as we continue to lift up this initiative as a national model of how such an infrastructure led by community members can create the conditions needed for every person to thrive.”

Each successful application was submitted by a municipal or nonprofit, community-based organization that will serve as the “backbone agency” for the local Health Equity Zone. These agencies, which include East Bay Community Action Program, Comprehensive Community Action Plan, and West Elmwood Housing Corporation, will facilitate a community-led process to organize a collaborative of community partners, conduct a needs assessment, and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the obstacles to health and well-being in local neighborhoods. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure that communities ground their work in public health principles and best practices, so that measurable outcomes are reached and evaluated.

 

 

Rhode Island Foundation Awards $285,000 to Newport County Nonprofits

The Rhode Island Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF} offered grants of up $10,000 to 40 organizations in Newport County to develop new programs, to strengthen or expand established programs and for municipal planning or leadership. In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of residents from every community in Newport County. In total, $285,000 in grants were awarded.

“From protecting the environment to underwriting health and job readiness programs, we are fortunate to partner with organizations that are improving lives here in Newport County,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are thankful for the donors who make these partnerships possible.”

Awardees included Child & Family, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community CenterNewport Mental HealthAquidneck Community TableBaby StepsBooks are Wings, Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport CountyClean Ocean AccessDay One in Middletown, Girl Scouts of Southeastern New EnglandGod’s Community Garden, Island Moving Company, Jamestown Arts Center, Katie Brown Educational Program, Little Compton Community Center, Little Compton Historical SocietyMeals on WheelsMENTOR Rhode IslandNewport Community School, Newport County YMCA, Newport Gulls, the Newport Music Festival, the Newport Partnership for Families, Newport Working CitiesRhode Island Black Storytellers, Salvation ArmySave The Bay, the Seamen’s Church InstituteSpecial Olympics Rhode Island, the Star Kids Scholarship Program, Turning Around MinistriesVisiting Nurse Home & Hospice, and Women’s Resource Center 

 

 

 

Nine Nonprofits Receive Grants from HarborOne Foundation Rhode Island

Harbor One Foundation Rhode Island announced that nine nonprofit organizations in the Greater Providence have received a combined $32,500 in financial support for their work helping children and families.  The foundation focuses its support on organizations that provide educational opportunities, create access to “safe and affordable” housing, and “deliver basic human services to our most vulnerable citizens.”

“It is an honor to be able to help organizations that make such an amazing impact in our community and positively affect so many lives,” said HarborOne Foundation Rhode Island President William White in a statement.

James Blake, CEO of HarborOne Bank, noted that the bank has been “warmly welcomed” into the Rhode Island community and that the foundation is “one way that we can help that community and the people and organizations in it to thrive.”

The grants each organization received ranged from $1,000 to $5,000. The organizations that received grant funding from the foundation are NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, Olneyville Housing Corp./One Neighborhood Builders, Sojourner House Inc, West Elmwood Housing Development Corp., Pawtucket School Department, The Miriam Hospital Foundation, Adoption Rhode Island, Young Voices and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island.

BCBSRI Grants $80K to Rhode Island Free Clinic

In honor of its 80th anniversary, GCRI Member Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has awarded an $80,000 grant to the Rhode Island Free Clinic, bringing the total awarded to the clinic to $870,000 over 14 years.

“Blue Cross is one of Clinic’s longest and strongest partnerships. Their strategic investment and support has been key to the clinic expanding services over time,” said Marie Ghazal, Rhode Island Free Clinic CEO. “This support has been essential to helping the clinic provide vital care for Rhode Island’s most vulnerable adults.”

The grant is intended to support the volunteer-based clinic’s mission of providing comprehensive health and dental care to 2,400 uninsured Rhode Islanders yearly. Services are of no charge to low-income unemployed adults at the clinic. Blue Cross said that the clinic diverts uncompensated emergency department visits, saving millions of dollars in cost on the health care system.

The Rhode Island Free Clinic is one of BCBSRI’s premier funding partners in our aim to increase access to primary care for the uninsured population in Rhode Island,” said Kim Keck, BCBSRI CEO and president. “BCBSRI is committed to passionately leading a state of health and wellbeing and the work that the clinic does is aligned with our mission of facilitating access to affordable, high-quality health care.”

United Way Awards $150K to Olneyville Community Organizations

United Way of Rhode Island’s Olneyville Community Fund has awarded $150,000 to 12 organizations that support children and families in the city’s Olneyville neighborhood.

“We are part of the community fabric of Olneyville and proud to be in a position to help make a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors,” said Angela Bannerman Ankoma, United Way executive vice president and director of community investment. “There is amazing work being done by organizations across this neighborhood that will now reach more children and more families – it’s very exciting.”

United Way of Rhode Island established the Olneyville Community Fund in 2008 when it relocated its headquarters to the neighborhood – considered one of Providence’s poorest – from the East Side. Since then, United Way has distributed more than $1 million from the fund to improve services for residents, increase the capacity of community-based organizations and improve public spaces.

The 12 organizations to receive grants are ONE Neighborhood Builders, Manton Avenue Project, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, Providence Community Library, The Wilbury Theater Group, Meeting Street, Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Clinica Esperanza-Hope Clinic, Center for Resilience, Back to School Celebration of Rhode Island, Kings Cathedral, YouthBuild Preparatory Academy, and the Swearer Center at Brown University.

HarborOne Employees Help Supply Schoolchildren

For the third year, employees at GCRI member HarborOne Bank packed and distributed backpacks to local community organizations for children who might need school supplies.

HarborOne Bank and HarborOne Mortgage provided more than 5,000 at-risk children with backpacks and educational supplies. On Aug. 7, more than 100 employees of HarborOne Bank and HarborOne Mortgage packed more than 3,000 backpacks at the Brockton Boys & Girls Club. Additionally, the local offices of HarborOne Mortgage provided another 2,000 to nonprofits across New England.