Bank Newport Responds to COVID-19 with Donations and Volunteerism

Earlier this year, before the onset of COVID-19, 35 employee volunteers from BankNewport and its sister agency, OceanPoint Insurance, participated in a meal-packaging project with the United Way of Rhode Island. In just two hours, the team packaged 12,000 meals for local food pantries, including FabNewport, the MLK Community Center, East Bay Community Action Program, and We Share Hope, a contribution that unknowingly would fill an immediate need.

As the pandemic grew, the Bank’s Community Fund Committee redirected its grant funds to extend immediate financial support with grants totaling $250,000 to the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island COVID-19 Response Fund, and most recently a $100,000 grant to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. In addition, more than $78,000 in sponsorship funds earmarked for nonprofit fundraising events were released to help meet their immediate needs. OceanPoint Insurance also contributed $2,500 to the COVID-19 Response Fund at the United Way during 401 Gives Day.

In addition to its ongoing community support, BankNewport has been working around the clock to fulfill loan requests for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as an emergency micro loan program in partnership with Rhode Island Commerce, the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.  Through these programs to date, BankNewport has awarded a total of $101.5 million in loans to approximately 1,200 small businesses in Rhode Island, including restaurants, retailers, and sole proprietors.  The Bank has also waived fees as part of its customer assistance program.

Funders Encouraged to Support Nonprofit Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores an urgent reality: The baseline of digital preparedness at global nonprofits is lower than imagined and requires new funding and support.

NTEN, NetHope, and the Technology Association of Grantmakers (TAG) issued a call to funders nationally to support nonprofit technology needs.  The call identifies the most pressing technology needs for nonprofits worldwide today as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and tomorrow as recovery begins, as well as examples of grantmaker responses and suggestions for additional investment in a digital infrastructure for civil society.

Now more than ever, nonprofits need support from funders that recognizes the entire cost of their work – work that is critical for communities across the globe right now. The full cost of digital infrastructure is significant and includes not only the hardware and software to shift virtual teams and program delivery, but also the skills and training to select, implement, and use these tools, as well as the long-term need to make strategic decisions about their technology roadmap.

Nonprofit Tech Needs During COVID-19

According to research by NTEN, TAG, and NetHope, the greatest technology needs for nonprofits throughout the COVID-19 crisis are the following:

  1. Reliable internet access
  2. Hardware, such as laptops, mobile devices, connectivity, and reliable power in vulnerable countries
  3. Software for remote work, paperless billing, virtual events, process approvals, fundraising, etc.
  4. Funding to enable program continuity in their transition from in-person to remote service delivery
  5. One-on-one support for tool selection, implementation, remote training strategy
  6. Training resources
  7. Flexible funding for reallocation according to needs

How Funders Can Respond

What can your foundation do, both in the short-term and long-term? This briefing by NetHope, NTEN, and TAG outlines ways to equip the humanitarian sector during the immediate response phase of COVID-19. For the longer-term recovery phase, we offer ways to engage in strategic efforts toward funding and building a digital infrastructure for the nonprofit sector.

More information

Latest Round of Funding from RI COVID-19 Response Fund Brings Total Grantmaking to $7.2 million

The Rhode Island COVID-19 Response Fund has now allocated a total of $7.2 million to 180 organizations, to provide emergency support for food, rent, utilities and medical expenses.

The sixth round of grants also provided protective gear for health care workers caring for patients at nearly a dozen nursing homes and medical facilities across the state.  The fund includes over $1 million in funding from GCRI member organizations, and is spearheaded by the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island.

Full list of grantees

CVS Health Provides $1 Million to Support Mental Health for Frontline Workers

CVS Health announced its commitment to flattening the “second curve,” the less visible but escalating mental health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. To help address America’s expanding mental and emotional wellbeing needs, the company is enhancing its nationwide mental health programming effort with new charitable investments focused on health care workers, essential workers and seniors.

Since March 1, CVS Health has seen a 200 percent increase in virtual mental health visits as compared to the same period last year, as well as substantial increases in calls for help with psychological distress including anxiety, grief and loss, and trauma. Health care workers are under extreme stress and anxiety fighting to save lives, while in many cases, isolating themselves after shifts to keep their own family safe. Self-isolation also affects older adults whose only social contacts are outside of their homes.

CVS Health will increase access to the following resources through targeted financial support:

  • Supporting Americares COVID-19 Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Project with a $500,000 contribution from the Aetna Foundation to help frontline health care workers, particularly those who serve low-income populations, improve their mental health awareness, knowledge and resiliency, and understand the mental health concerns impacting their patients.
  • Expert crisis support for frontline health care and essential workers through Crisis Text Line via a $300,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation. For the Frontlines is a dedicated effort to provide 24/7 confidential direct mental health support for those on the frontlines, including health care workers dealing with the stress, anxiety, fear, depression and/or isolation associated with COVID-19. Health care and essential workers can text FRONTLINE to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. to communicate with a trained volunteer crisis counselor at no cost.

CVS Health is also making Aetna’s Resources for Living (RFL) program available to everyone, which includes phone support, assistance for employers, support for basic needs, as well as educational resources.

Finally, CVS Health is offering increased support for its own employees through various resources that help build mental health resilience, cope with uncertainty, reduce stress and stay connected. These services will be delivered with 7 Cups, an online platform that connects people to a caring, emotionally supportive volunteer listener to prevent depression and anxiety.

More Information

Collette Hosts New Pawtucket/Central Falls COVID-19 Outreach

GCRI member Collette has announced that it will serve as a partner and section leader of the CFP BEAT COVID-19 initiative. Colette will be contributing to the leadership of the CFP BEAT COVID-19 incident command team, providing the entire enterprise with logistical support, including information management services and phone banking.

“We are proud to support the efforts of both the City of Pawtucket and Central Falls,” said Mike Vendetti, Director of Property Safety and Security at Collette. “We know that this is such an important task to benefit the community as a whole.”

The CFP BEAT COVID-19 initiative has committed itself to reach out to every single household in the two cities, so that every resident in the cities knows what to do and who to call the moment they get sick due to the exponentially growing numbers of positive cases.

“We are deeply grateful for the resources and workforce that Collette and the Sullivan family have committed to this effort. There is no better corporate citizen anywhere,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “We estimate that nearly 50,000 people in Pawtucket and Central Falls do not have a primary health care doctor. Collette’s invaluable assistance will help us reach out to every single household in our two cities”

“Roughly 45% of the Covid-19 positive tests are Latino, and Central Falls and Pawtucket cases continue to increase exponentially,” said Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa. “Bringing an organization like Collette has come to our rescue, in a way that we hope will allow us to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in our communities.”

“People are positive at a very high rate in Pawtucket and Central Falls,” said Michael Fine, M.D, Medical Director of CFP BEAT COVID-19 initiative. “At Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Central Falls and Pawtucket residents are testing at 36% and 33% Covid-19 positive respectively. This is nearly three times the state average rate. Our communities are a likely hotspot.  We are very grateful to Colette Travel so we can together make sure that people are getting tested and isolating accordingly when sick.”

As part of the CFP BEAT COVID-19 initiative, the Mayors and Care New England have announced a Coronavirus testing site that has more than triple the capacity of existing test sites in the Blackstone Valley as a first step. The team is now working on the next step to combat Covid-19, aiming to create a telephone consultation service for people in our cities who do not have primary care physicians.

Humanities Grants Available for Cultural Organizations

The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities will be distributing supplemental funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the federal CARES Act. The grants will provide general operating support, and there will be a small pool for project grants connected to the innovation and engagement so many cultural organizations have shown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Nationally, the NEH has also established a grant program for cultural organizations to support at-risk humanities positions and projects that have been impacted by the coronavirus.
 
Information about the opportunities is linked below. Please circulate as appropriate. This pool of funds is likely to be expended very quickly. The first Humanities Council deadlines are May 1 and May 15.
 
From the Humanities Council:
General Operating Support COVID-19 Relief Grants – Nonprofit Humanities Organizations
Project Grants – Public Humanities in the Age of Social Distancing
Info here
 
From the National Endowment for the Humanities:
NEH CARES: Cultural Organizations
Info here

LISC Partners with Citizens Bank to Launch Grant Program for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rhode Island and Citizens Bank introduced a Small Business Recovery Grant Program aimed at small businesses in Rhode Island that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The grants for amounts up to $7,500 will help hard-hit businesses limit layoffs and continue to provide employee benefits, including health insurance, and mitigate the economic instability currently faced by so many of community businesses.

In the past two weeks, several additional small grant or loan programs have been offered to the small business community in Rhode Island, and each time the funds are depleted very quickly, underscoring the acute needs of that segment of the economy. According to the Small Business Association, in Rhode Island nearly 53% of all private sector employees work in a small business setting.

Small businesses represent an important economic engine in Rhode Island, and is particularly critical as a way to provide economic stability for many minority- and immigrant families. With the closing of many non-essential businesses, much of that economic activity has come to a grinding halt, while the bills still pile up. The CARES Act will provide Small Business Administration loans, a Paycheck Protection Program and other economic relief, many of our smaller and more vulnerable businesses will not be able to access federal programs, or will be unable to qualify for or support the repayment of loans. Grants, as well as robust technical assistance, will be critical to the survival of these businesses.

More information

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Announces Second Wave of Funding to Address Coronavirus Impact

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced funding to 18 additional nonprofit organizations as part of the $1 million it has committed to support community efforts on behalf of older people affected by the coronavirus. This second wave of funding, totaling $345,000, focuses on housing and equity efforts in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

The organizations include housing providers, those working with people experiencing homelessness and immigrant communities, and several serving as hubs for collaborative regional responses.

In Rhode Island, grantees in the current wave of funding were House of Hope Community Development Corporation and Saint Elizabeth Community.

The Foundation also is accelerating payments to current grantees, easing the financial pressure they are facing. These payments will give community organizations an additional $1.5 million to support emerging priorities.

“As the coronavirus spreads throughout our region, it is clear communities of color and organizations serving older people are disproportionately affected,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president for corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan. “Organizations working with those most at risk are a priority for the Foundation. More resources are essential to help all our communities face this public health crisis.”

The Foundation continues to offer a two-for-one match to Tufts Health Plan employees and board members who donate to organizations during the pandemic. To date, an additional $55,000 has been contributed to community organizations through this program.

LISC Joins with Verizon to Support Businesses with COVID-19 Recovery Fund

Understanding the toll of small businesses closing their doors to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Verizon will donate $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit that has invested $20 billion to fuel economic opportunity for people and communities across America. Over the course of the series, all viewers who tune in will be encouraged to tag their favorite local businesses and make a purchase in advance for when the crisis is over and the businesses reopen. As consumers engage, Verizon will unlock an additional $2.5 million in funds, bringing the total donation to a potential $5 million.

LISC will use the funds to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital in historically underserved communities. LISC will launch an online process for small businesses to submit applications for grants (sign up here to stay updated on the process). Applications will be reviewed and then entered into a lottery. The grants are designed to help business owners fill urgent financial gaps – from paying rent to meeting payroll – until they can resume normal operations or other financing becomes available.  Updates

 

Citizens Announces $5 Million Commitment to Communities Impacted by COVID-19

Citizens Bank announced a $5 million commitment to support communities and businesses dealing with impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. These resources will back both a number of broad-based community support initiatives across the Citizens service area as well as specialized programs focused on providing aid to small businesses and their workforces.

“Responding to the needs of the communities we serve is at the heart of the Citizens Credo and we stand ready to help our neighbors during this unprecedented time,” said Bruce Van Saun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Financial Group. “Through this initiative we will focus on addressing immediate community needs, while providing aid to small businesses so they can get back on their feet more quickly.”

The bank’s COVID-19 support effort will have two components:

  • A Community Support Relief program that will provide charitable contributions to community partners to assist with wider relief efforts. One example of this is charitable contributions to be committed to broad-based relief funds in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, with others to be determined. Longer term, the company plans to work with community partners to identify solutions to address changing needs.
  • A Small Business Relief and Recovery program that will provide charitable contributions and other assistance aimed at helping small businesses restore full operations, rehire and recover in the months to come.

In addition to the resources for small business relief announced today, Citizens will implement several initiatives that will enable customers and colleagues to lend their support. These include enabling users of the bank’s cash-back credit cards to designate all or part of their cash rewards to the relief and recovery fund. Further, Citizens will create a mechanism through which customers, colleagues and others can donate to support the effort.

In addition to providing new funding, Citizens removed programmatic restrictions on 2020 funding to non-profit partners to allow support to be diverted to the areas of greatest need.

Van Saun added: “While the short term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will present unique challenges for all of us, it is important that banks step up and play a critical role in helping provide economic stability to our communities. Citizens looks forward to continuing to support our community partners and customers throughout this difficult time.”