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.

Guest Post — The War in Ukraine Requires a Major Philanthropic Response and Overall Increase in Peace and Security Funding

Originally published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 1, 2022

“The Molotov cocktails are the worst,” says my 99-year-old grandmother, reflecting on the violence erupting in her homeland of Ukraine. She remembers dodging them in the streets of Odessa as she fled invaders eight decades ago. “But,” she sighs during our weekly Skype chat from her home in Germany, “what can we actually do at this point?”

The short answer for everyone, but especially philanthropy, is quite a lot.

First, grant makers must respond to the immediate humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by providing much-needed rapid-response funds to help those on the ground. Millions of people are likely to need shelter, food, water, and medical care. Foundations and individual donors that can give rapid-response grants should connect with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy or their philanthropy colleagues who are in direct touch with Ukrainian grantee partners and who can most effectively channel funds to meet immediate needs.

Grant makers that have not established flexible-funding approaches should take this opportunity to embrace the notion that timely philanthropy is the most effective philanthropy — especially during a crisis.

Pushing Back on Misinformation

Second, philanthropy can play an important role in pushing back on the warmongering, misinformation-driven narrative woven into the conflict itself and the debate surrounding it. Much has been written about Russia’s use of disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, most recently, its characterizations of Ukraine and its government. In both cases, Russian disinformation was amplified by conservative news outlets and politicians in this country, fueling the partisanship that stands in the way of genuine policy debate and consensus building. Such misinformation also feeds narratives that peace, diplomacy, and compromise are weak.

One of the most effective ways grant makers can respond is by supporting independent journalism and analysis that counters these narratives. For example, the 762 Project, which is run by volunteers in Ukraine and elsewhere, has been collecting, analyzing, and posting information about the buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders since last spring. Supporting local news sources in Ukraine, such as the English-language news site the Kyiv Independent, is especially important to ensuring that propaganda from outlets like the Kremlin-funded RT and social-media misinformation campaigns don’t drive decision making about the invasion.

Bolster Peace and Security Funding

Finally, philanthropy must increase its investment in peace and security broadly, and diversify who receives that funding. Without meaning to sound insensitive, this step is more important and more difficult than the short-term response to the war in Ukraine. It is the only way to achieve lasting peace and security in both Ukraine and future conflicts — and to identify and spotlight innovative, peace-focused solutions.

Peace and security funding accounts for just 1 percent of all grant making, which is as lopsided as the funding disparity between the State Department and the Department of Defense. The State Department’s $65 billion budget is 1 percent of the overall federal budget, while the Defense Department’s is 10 times that, or $773 billion. In a recent op-ed about American militarism, Patrick Hiller, director of the War Prevention Initiative at the Jubitz Family Foundation, noted that “diplomacy is the sidekick of the U.S. war machine when it comes to relations with the rest of the world.” Is it any wonder that diplomacy doesn’t have much of a fighting chance?

The 57 members of the Peace and Security Funders Group, which I manage, make up a passionate and strategic bunch, but we struggle to get adequate funding for our issues. Why?

During my 14 years of working in this area, I’ve heard three perennial reasons from grant makers for avoiding peace work:

Peace is a long-term investment, with payout measured in decades, and boards lack the vision and patience to stay the course when there aren’t quick wins to showcase at quarterly meetings.  Peace work can feel too political because many of the issues involve policy or legislation.  It’s difficult to claim credit for avoiding a future nuclear terrorist attack or for preventing a conflict that would have happened absent locally led peace-building efforts.

In reality, hundreds of examples demonstrate how investing in peace building can stop or reduce conflict. And, as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to investments in peace versus war. As for those concerned about crossing too far into direct political involvement or lobbying, there are many options in the advocacy toolbox that both grant makers and nonprofits can deploy to effectively and legally engage in this work.

The peace and security arena is itself at a crossroads. One foundation colleague of mine often jokes that the field is mostly “pale, male, and stale.” Some have called the lack of diversity a national security crisis, and myriad initiatives are pushing for more diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism efforts. For instance, the nonprofit group Organizations in Solidarity “seeks to diversify the fields of peace and security, foreign policy, and national security,” with the goal of making the work more inclusive and equitable.

The field is beginning to grapple with a toxic culture that dismisses new ideas, as well as its role in upholding a white dominant system that favors solutions for only some of the world’s people. This is necessary and long overdue. As philanthropist and financier Frank Giustra observed, “Without peace and security, you can forget about advancing any of the other social issues philanthropy is trying to address. … It’s impossible to implement solutions in issue areas like health, education, and poverty unless you have a peaceful and stable environment to work in.”

The tragic and unnecessary war in Ukraine is unlikely to end anytime soon — and philanthropy has no excuse for sitting on the sidelines. Funds should be directed toward immediate humanitarian needs while also supporting organizations that are charting a more inclusive, equitable, and just path forward. We all need to learn to talk about peace in a way that’s empowering, inspiring, and radically feminist. For those grant makers who aren’t yet in the peace game, this is your chance. We have an opportunity to change history’s trajectory and prevent another devastating war.

$450K in American Rescue Plan Funds for RI Arts Organizations

Representative David Cicilline announced that six Rhode Island arts organizations have been awarded a total of $450,000 in competitive grant funding from the American Rescue Plan. These grants, awarded through the National Endowment for the Arts, will support payroll costs and pandemic-related expenses. The grants were awarded as follows:

  • Alliance of Artists Communities, Providence – $100,000
  • Dirt Palace Public Projects, Providence – $50,000
  • DownCity Design, Providence – $100,000
  • Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, Providence – $100,000
  • Everett Arts Incubator, Providence – $50,000
  •  Riverzedge Arts, Woonsocket – $50,000

The pandemic and safety measures have hit arts organizations here in Rhode Island and around the country hard. These American Rescue Plan grants will help Rhode Island’s cultural institutions weather this storm and continue to enrich Rhode Island communities.

$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

50 community organizations receive funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation

$500,000 supports nonprofits in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced 50 community organizations across the region will receive a total of $500,000 in Momentum Fund grants to advance health equity and support community resilience. The organizations serve people disproportionately affected by the pandemic after years of system inequities, especially older people.

The 2021 Momentum Fund grants support organizations that improve nutrition security; make access to transportation more equitable; address social isolation and mental health; deliver reliable and clear COVID-19 information; support caregivers; and advance workforce solutions. The grants were informed by more than 100 conversations with community members.

A total of 10 organizations in each state — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire — will receive unrestricted grants due to the challenges many have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources can be used to address the most urgent community needs.

The Rhode Island grantees are Aldersbridge Communities, Center for Southeast Asians, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Conexion Latina Newport, Grands Flourish, Higher Ground International, Refugee Dream Center, RI Minority Elder Task Force, We Share Hope, and West Bay Community Action Program.

RI Arts and Humanities Councils Award Nearly $1 Million in Grants with Federal Funds

One hundred twenty one culture, humanities and arts nonprofits have been awarded grants through the Rhode Island Culture, Humanities and Arts Recovery Grant (RI CHARG) program, a historic collaborative partnership between the State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (Humanities Council).
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded $968,000 in assistance to Rhode Island from their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and is not part of the $1.1 billion in ARPA funding awarded to the state.
These federally appropriated cultural assistance funds administered by RISCA and the Humanities Council provide general operating support grants of $8,000 each to 121 culture, humanities, and arts nonprofits:
● 95% are small to midsize and/or Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) centered organizations;
● 65% are organizations based outside the city of Providence; and
● More than 25% are first-time grantees.
Click here to read the list of grantees.

Rhode Island Foundation Awards $250,000 Grant for Community Narcan Distribution

The Rhode Island Foundation announced a $250,000 grant to purchase thousands of Narcan opioid overdose prevention kits for community-based recovery and harm reduction organizations across the state. A record 384 Rhode Islanders died of a drug overdose last year, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

The grant comes at a time when naloxone (also known as Narcan) supplies are seriously depleted. Drug overdose deaths increased 25 percent last year compared to 2019, according to RIDOH, and preliminary data indicate that 2021 could be even worse. Additionally, the street drug supply is increasingly lethal due to the presence of the very strong opioid, fentanyl. The number of people at risk for opioid overdose is greater than ever, according to RIDOH, and the funding will provide about a two-month supply of the lifesaving emergency antidote.

The grant to the University of Rhode Island will enable the Community First Responder Program (CFRP) at its College of Pharmacy to purchase approximately 3,000 Narcan kits for distribution to community-based recovery and harm reduction organizations.

Narcan kits are routinely carried by law enforcement and emergency medical personnel as well as mobile outreach workers from community-based recovery and harm reduction organizations. These organizations use weekly data from RIDOH to deploy their mobile outreach teams to overdose hotspots throughout Rhode Island and connect those at risk to harm reduction supplies, basic needs, treatment and recovery services as needed. The Narcan kits come with two doses of naloxone nasal spray that can be dispensed directly into the nostrils of someone who is overdosing.

According to RIDOH, three out of every four overdose deaths in 2020 involved fentanyl, which is often found in counterfeit pills being illicitly sold as oxycodone, Adderall or benzodiazepines. These counterfeit pills are even more lethal when crushed and snorted. Fentanyl can also be present in powders such as heroin, cocaine and other drugs.

The funding for the Foundation’s grant comes in part from the Behavioral Health Fund, which was created with funding from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

Resources for People Who Use Drugs and Their Loved Ones

  • Call Rhode Island’s 24/7 Buprenorphine Hotline401-606-5456, for help if you or someone you care about is experiencing opioid withdrawal. Callers can speak with a healthcare provider, learn about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) options, and make a plan for treatment and recovery support.
  • Call BH Link401-414-LINK (5465), for immediate assistance with a mental health or substance use crisis. People can also visit BH Link’s drop-in center at 975 Waterman Ave. in East Providence. English and Spanish-speaking counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer support and connect callers to local resources.

Guest Post: ABFE Stands in Solidarity with Haitian Asylum Seekers — How Philanthropy Can Respond

From our sister organization, Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE):

ABFE Stands In Solidarity with Haitian Asylum Seekers

How Philanthropy Can Respond

As of Friday 9/24, the migrant camp under Del Rio bridge has been cleared ─ but the conversation around anti-Black immigration to the US has just begun. The inhumane and cruel attacks on Haitian asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border were heart-wrenching to witness ─ sadly illuminating a long history of violent detention and deportation by the United States. ABFE stands in solidarity with Black migrants who are typically left out of the immigration debate and commits to advocating on their behalf within the philanthropic sector.

We condemn the ongoing abusive treatment of the Haitian people and demand a dignified path forward for the thousands of Black immigrants seeking asylum. Mounted border patrol agents aggressively corralling people like cattle or runaway slaves was on public display for the world to see. We are equally concerned with what we are not seeing in mainstream media. Where are the thousands of Haitians now? What are their living conditions? Are they being treated with dignity and respect? There are reports that some are being held in detention centers and prisons, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or be deported. Those that have already been deported to Haiti have been dumped into a country overrun by strife and instability.

Many in this country were encouraged when the Biden administration signed an executive order on advancing racial equity in his first days in office. It states, “ it is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality” [1]. This does not appear to be the case in the area of immigration policy; anti-Black racism is alive and well – one just needs to compare the treatment of Haitians at the border with that of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in this country.

How Philanthropy Can Respond

Thousands more will make arduous treks to the U.S. border. Immediate strategies to address real-time humanitarian crises as well as long-term solutions for welcoming asylum seekers into U.S. society are needed.

  • Disinvestment – Foundations can look internally to see where their investments lie. There is a growing disinvestment movement – similar to the South African Apartheid disinvestment – focused on the Immigration Industrial complex. Similarly, the current Prison Industrial Complex disinvestment movement is focusing on immigration camps and detention centers.[2]
  • Invest in the Caribbean – If we care about Black lives in the US, we must care about Black lives in the Caribbean including Haiti. Why? The majority of Black immigrants in the U.S. migrate from this region and these families retain strong economic ties to one another. We urge international funders to focus on the issues and development of the Caribbean.
  • Support Organizations focused on Black immigrants (from the Caribbean, Africa, Afro-Latinos from South American countries) – The focus has been on Latinx migrants which means many of the services provided for migrants and asylum seekers are Spanish-language based.

ABFE recommends supporting the following organization:

Nonprofits Receive Nearly $450,000 to Help Rhode Islanders Cope with Continuing Effects of COVID-19 Crisis

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $450,000 in grants to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the COVID-19 crisis. With these latest grants, the Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in pandemic relief since March 2020.

Grant recipients were:

  • Beautiful Day
  • Be the Change
  • Be Great For Nate
  • Cambodian Society of Rhode Island
  • Centro de Innovacion Mujer Latina
  • College Visions
  • Hope & Main
  • John Hope Settlement House
  • Justice Assistance
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success
  • Oasis International
  • Pawtucket Central Falls Development Corp.
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts
  • Rhode Island Rescue Ministeries
  • RiverzEdge Arts Project
  • Saint Rose’s Church Corporation
  • Southside Community Land Trust
  • Stages of Freedom
  • Sophia Academy
  • South County Habitat for Humanity
  • The Herren Project
  • The Parent Support Network of Rhode Island
  • The Providence Center
  • The Samaritans of Rhode Island
  • The San Miguel School
  • The Village Common

With this round of funding, Foundation has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants to more than 150 nonprofit organizations since launching its COVID-19 Response Fund last year.

Philanthropy Must Act on “Code Red” for Humanity — Guest Post from WINGS

Reposting from Benjamin Bellegy, Executive Director of WINGS — a global philanthropy collaborative

As published in Alliance Magazine, August 17, 2021

We all know that climate change is no longer a crisis. It has become an emergency.

A groundbreaking report published earlier this month by the world’s leading authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was called a ‘code red for humanity’ by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

The report says that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented ways and that some of the changes are now inevitable and irreversible, and that we need to take immediate and drastic action to prevent further catastrophe.

If the global scientific consensus on the urgency was not enough to convince all of us – individuals and institutions – that we need to act now and boldly, we can see the effects in the world around us with growing and terrifying frequency. The last few months have shown us a glimpse of what we should expect, not just for a few small Pacific Islands, but for all of us:  floods in Europe and China with hundreds dying, heat waves in North America and devastating fires in Australia, Canada, Greece, Algeria and Turkey.

Emergency means momentum. With COP26 coming up in October this year, we, philanthropic actors, have an opportunity to show our engagement on the climate crisis to the world, and maybe even more importantly to ourselves, our stakeholders, teams and partners. We believe this is not only the role of environment-focused foundations to take action but of the whole philanthropic community.

Historically, WINGS has been cause-agnostic, as a global network whose role is to foster stronger and more impactful philanthropy worldwide. This year, for the first time, we decided that we have a responsibility to leverage our network – which reaches out indirectly to 100,000 philanthropy actors around the world – to push the sector to take action on the climate emergency.

Building on a movement started in the UK with ACF and in other parts of Europe with Dafne’s support, we have engaged 40 philanthropy networks from across the globe to launch the International Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change. Not because we are drifting away from our core mission, but, on the contrary, because we believe it’s the only way to be loyal to our mission and responsibility. If we don’t do everything we can to counter the existential threat humanity is facing, how can we say we are here to serve social progress and strengthen philanthropy – the love of humanity?

Historically, WINGS has been cause-agnostic, but for the first time, we decided that we have a responsibility to leverage our network to push the sector to take action on the climate emergency.

For the same reason, this commitment calls on all philanthropic actors, regardless of their mission, size and nature, to act. Because whatever the cause is that we care about, if we don’t act on climate now how can we be sure that there’ll be a tomorrow to act on our other causes?

More than a pre-condition to achieving our missions in the future, engaging on climate is also a way to better achieve our missions today. As the commitment highlights, the climate crisis is a poverty and inequality issue, a social justice issue, a food and water issue, a health issue, a democracy issue. And the list could go on and on. As much as engaging on climate is a critical issue in itself, it also helps us take a more holistic view about what we are trying to achieve and embrace the interconnectedness of the issues we need to address.

Taking the commitment is also a way for philanthropic actors to learn how to leverage all the instruments of change they have at their disposal. Not only our grants or what we implement on the ground but also our investments and financial assets, our operations, our influence and expertise. By engaging, you will have an opportunity to act at all these levels and learn from the successes and failures of others who have already started the journey.

We will not ask you to reach this or that target. This is an invitation to start a journey – with energy, with a sense of urgency, with a deep commitment to learning and to keep trying, with all our assets, and with the support of others. An invitation to join a global movement and to be collectively determined to transform the way we work, today, tomorrow, and the days after tomorrow.

Philanthropy will not solve the climate emergency alone, but it has to do its part. And this part can be absolutely critical and transformational if we really leverage all our strengths: our $1.5 trillion in financial assets, our capacity to innovate, to connect actors, to support advocacy and social movements, to take risks, to influence mainstream markets and governments.

Anti-climate philanthropy is organised and resourced. It is time for the silent majority of our field to do the same. The commitment provides a starting point and a common platform. Let’s come together to take action and protect our future. Our lives depend on it.

Read more in our #PhilanthropyForClimate series.

Benjamin Bellegy is the Executive Director of WINGS.

Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island