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.

 

PCU Announces $104,500 in Grants to Support School Achievement

Pawtucket Credit Union’s announced over $100,000 in grants to 11 local nonprofits focused on providing academic support to low-income children.

The awardees include The Learning Community, Comprehensive Community Action Program, Kennedy-Donovan Center, Books Are Wings, YMCA of Pawtucket, Friends of Pawtucket Public Library, Back To School Celebration of Rhode Island, Children’s Friend, Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, and The Empowerment Factory.

“Improving the lives of families and individuals in the communities we serve is a key component of the credit union’s mission,” Charette said in a news release. “We believe funding programs that provide academic support and enrichment to children and [youths] in some of our most vulnerable communities will help these children achieve a brighter tomorrow.”

 

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/

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.