Philanthropy Supports ABFE’s Call for Philanthropy to Take Action on Anti-Black Racism

Leaders of many philanthropic support organizations, including United Philanthropy Forum, Council on Foundations, Independent Sector, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, have issued a letter in solidarity with ABFE:  A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities in their call for philanthropy to take action on anti-Black racism.

ABFE is the oldest affinity group in the country, borne out of a moment of both conflict and action, when Black leaders raised their voices to protest the lack of representation within philanthropy. Since their founding nearly 50 years ago, ABFE has worked to mobilize grantmaking entities, donors and nonprofits to improve outcomes for Black communities and the country as a whole. Now, they are calling on philanthropy to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism by engaging in deep, transformative institutional change; supporting Black communities; and deploying an equity analysis in their work.

The leaders say, “We ask you to read ABFE’s call to action and commit to making change within your own institution. We also encourage your support of ABFE and their work by becoming members of their community.  As ABFE says in their statement, “we must be in it for the long haul.” To that end, our organizations commit to working in partnership with ABFE to offer programming and engagement opportunities that help philanthropy develop the deep partnerships with Black communities needed to provide both immediate support and affect long term change.”

The ABFE statement begins, “Our long-term goal is to free Black people from disparate treatment that result in the racial disparities we see in COVID-19, police brutality and on almost every indicator of well-being. To get there, we must dismantle the structures (institutional policies and practices) that disadvantage and marginalize Black people as well as the false narratives about Black communities that allow for continued inhumane treatment. This will lead to stronger Black communities.

“Philanthropy has a critical role to play and must step forward. In addition, a more robust partnership moving forward between philanthropy, government, businesses and Black communities is needed to address immediate needs and opportunities (targeted COVID-19 relief and police reform); as well as the longer-term strategies to address racial inequity. We need deep, transformative institutional change in this country; foundations and donors that support Black communities, in addition to those from other sectors (government, business, etc.) must commit to and deploy an equity analysis to investments moving forward. This is a marathon, not a sprint and all of us in philanthropy must be in it for the long haul.”

The full statement includes 10 action priorities:

BUILD AGENCY — Increase investments in Black-led organizations that connect individuals and families to a
wide array of resources and build power in our communities to lead substantive change.
PUSH STRUCTURAL CHANGE — Given deep-seated inequities, COVID-19 relief and police reform efforts must
take a “long view” and consider policy and system reform needed to improve conditions in Black communities beyond federal and philanthropic emergency and response efforts.
ENCOURAGE SHARED RESPONSIBILITY — Philanthropic funds, particularly those under the leadership of Black foundation executives are part of the solution. However, the targeted investment of all philanthropies as well as public dollars are needed to transform conditions in Black communities in both relief and long-term efforts.
USE ENDOWMENTS — The health-driven economic recession has negatively impacted foundation endowments. Therefore,
there is increased need to prioritize spending on the most impacted communities.  In addition, now is the time to utilize
the full set of resources of philanthropy by increasing asset payout and employing various investment strategies to provide much needed capital to Black communities.
CENTER BLACK EXPERIENCE — Black leaders and communities must be engaged in the development of short and long-term philanthropic and public policy solutions to ensure that well-intentioned “helping” and reform efforts do not exacerbate existing disparities.
TRUSTEE ACCOUNTABILITY — Foundation trustees are accountable for the strategic direction, fiscal health and policies implemented by the institutions for which they govern. During this time of crisis, foundation boards should take stock of the level of grantmaking to Black communities, increase targeted giving and engage in racial equity assessments of their investments moving forward. It is necessary for national Boards to do so but critically important for foundation boards in the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus with sizeable Black populations (e.g., New York, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, etc.).
ENGAGE BLACK BUSINESSES — Foundations and the public sector should actively engage Black businesses in investment management, banking, and other professional services to address the pandemic’s negative impact on Black earnings and wealth
LIFT UP GENDER — The health and economic well-being of both Black people are under threat due to COVID-19; however,
its’ impacts also differ by gender , gender identity and sexual orientation. Black women are suffering worse relative to job loss. Emerging data illustrates that Black men are at higher risk of death and racial profiling relative to COVID-19. Black LGBTQ communities are particularly vulnerable due to higher rates of suppressed immune systems and widespread housing and employment discrimination. Response efforts must take into account these differences, to ensure that all people of African descent are connected to economic opportunities, healthy and are safe from personal and statesanctioned violence
REACH TO THE DIASPORA — The racially charged impact of COVID-19 extends beyond U.S. borders. Black communities in the U.S. territories have been left out of many relief efforts and African immigrants are being targeted in both the U.S (as part of America’s Black population) and other parts of the world. During crises, we must remain vigilant of how anti-Black racism impacts people of African descent around the world and look for opportunities to unite our philanthropic efforts to save and support Black lives.
ADDRESS DISPARITIES IN PRISONS — U.S. prisons are disproportionately filled with Black and Brown people and are
breeding grounds for the spread of coronavirus, other infectious diseases, and, generally, hopelessness.  COVID
-19 relief efforts have reminded us that institutional custody should be reserved as a last resort when there is a risk of community safety or flight. That use of institutional custody must become a standard of operating in all instances. Current efforts must support the safety of those currently imprisoned, early release of incarcerated individuals and advance sustained investments in alternatives that reduce reliance on incarceration over the long-term to support Black communities.

From a Broken World to a New Better

Many of us have heavy hearts from the events of the last weeks and months, watching the lives of people of color be snuffed out by racial violence and the disproportionate impact of a relentless virus.
I want to reach out to our members of color to offer our solidarity and support, and our commitment to continue the work we have begun on racial equity.  We clearly live in a world that is broken, and its sharp edges predominantly scar those whose skin pigments are darker than mine.
In some ways, the pandemic, and the release of videos of racial injustice, are lightening strikes in the midst of a devastating storm.  They shine light on generations of accumulated damage, a legacy of racism that affects the health and well-being and hope of our colleagues, neighbors and friends.
As we move forward in supporting our communities in this pandemic and come together to build “A New Better,” we need to continue to center the work of racial equity, and learn to be better allies and partners in the work of dismantling perspectives, practices and structures that perpetuate harm against communities and individuals of color.
For those looking for tangible, positive opportunities to respond, we will be sharing recommended reading, but for now,  I wanted to highlight Ibram Kendi’s book, How to Be an Anti-Racist, and two articles, “75 Things A White Person Can Do For Racial Justice,” and “Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not.”
If you are a GCRI member, please also plan on joining us next Thursday, June 4 from 2:00-4:00pm for a timely session on “Investing in Equity in Grantee Organizations During the Pandemic and Beyond” to learn more about how to support nonprofit leaders of color, and to advance intersectional racial equity in our work.   Register
This is just a piece of much larger work that is needed, internally in our own organizations, externally in our grantmaking, and community-wide in our state and nation.
I’m grateful for the ways that you all have partnered in supporting our communities through this pandemic, and your continued commitment gives me hope that we can, in partnership with nonprofits, community members and the public sector, indeed build a “New Better” that advances racial equity and healing, and creates a Rhode Island where everyone can thrive.

AFP-RI Releases Report on Diversity of Leadership at Largest RI Nonprofits

Data Released on Diversity of Leadership at Largest RI Nonprofits

The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Rhode Island Chapter (AFP-RI), through its IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access) Committee, recently completed a study that looked at the gender and racial diversity of the leaders of Rhode Island’s largest nonprofit organizations by net worth. Rhode Island has 4,140 registered 501(c)3 public charities which together hold assets of $31.7 billion.

Key findings of the report include:

  • The largest 150 nonprofits in Rhode Island had total revenue of $11,515,924,424 in 2017;
  • Revenues of these organizations ranged from $5,389,143 to $1,369,753,828;
  • 876 women served on the boards of these organizations, representing 38% of all board members;
  • 43% of the CEO roles were held by women;
  • People of color made up 10% of all board members, despite representing 30% of Rhode Island’s general population; and
  • Only 3% of the CEO roles were held by people of color, less than the national average of 10%. 

“This report provides a baseline for nonprofits to consider what can be done to diversify the leadership of their organizations. From a fundraising perspective, diversity is critical to increasing dollars raised and expanding donor networks,” said Amy Gravell, President of AFP-RI and Managing Director for The Gamm Theatre.

Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island and Chair of the IDEA Committee of AFP-RI which worked on this report, added “The organizations in this report impact a broad and diverse swath of our community; ideally, their organizational leaders should also reflect of the communities they serve.”

The report includes several recommendations for improvement, including:

  • Consider life experiences and transferable skills that can be used in place of certain prerequisites to give individuals more access to organizational leadership pipelines;
  • Move beyond the personal networks of current organizational leaders by engaging outside organizations, consultants and stakeholders in sourcing future board members;
  • Recommend women and people of color to serve on boards or be considered for an open CEO role;
  • Use term limits to ensure fresh and new perspectives; and
  • Provide training and support in fundraising and development, using best practices for both board members and staff in the leadership pipeline.

Annual revenue was the primary criterion for inclusion in the list of the 2019 Census of Nonprofit Directors and Chief Executives in Rhode Island’s Largest Organizations. Information on board members and chief executives was obtained from the organization’s websites, the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s corporation database or other publicly available sources. Where possible, this information was verified by someone on staff or board at the specific organization.

To download the report, please click here.

Rhode Island Foundation to Provide $1 Million to Support Public Education

The Rhode Island Foundation announced that it is committing $1 million – above and beyond the Foundation’s annual grantmaking in education – to support improvements to the state’s pre-K to 12th grade public education system.

The funding announcement comes as the Long Term Education Planning committee, convened in late 2018 and led by the Foundation, releases final recommendations for improvements. The Foundation’s investment of $1 million will align with the recommendations in the report. The report includes input provided by more than 300 parents, students, educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors at the Make It Happen: A World Class Public Education for RI brainstorming session at the R.I. Convention Center in December.

The Long Term Education Planning Committee, a 26-member group of educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for profit sectors convened at the request of the Foundation, developed the 10-year plan for improving education in Rhode Island. Click on a link below to read the plan, “Chart a Course, Stay the Course: Rhode Island’s Path to a World Class Public Education System.”

“Participants at the Make it Happen event were extremely vocal about the need to amplify the role of student and family voice. These voices are fundamental and critical to making improvements in the system,” said Steinberg, who served on the committee. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to work together on this effort – be ambitious and bold, display strong support for educators and continue to demand more for all students, in every community.”

In addition to a vision for the future of public education in Rhode Island, the final plan includes a set of four priorities and accompanying strategies, including aligning the state funding formula with both state and local needs and sustaining a rigorous, statewide assessment system.

Full report

Women’s Fund Releases Report on the RI Progress on Gender Equity

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island has released a new research report, titled “An Uneven Path: State Investments in Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency 2019.”

The report and accompanying executive summary drew on state budget documents, Rhode Island’s Standard of Need report, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other publicly available information to gauge the state’s progress on gender equity.  Report and summary

 

LISC and Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone Builds Climate Resilience

#PCFHEZ Climate Resilience Project

What does race have to do with climate change? Which neighborhoods in the greater Providence area are most at risk from extreme heat and flooding? What can residents and local government do to make sure neighborhoods are safe and resilient to climate change?

Take a guided tour of the findings from Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone‘s climate resilience project to make Rhode Island communities safer from extreme heat and flooding.

Nonprofits Awarded Nearly $300,000 to Boost RI’s 2020 Census Count of Underserved Communities

Goal is to protect $3.8 billion a year in federal funding for education, health care, roads, housing that RI receives

The Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund, supported by GCRI members, has awarded nearly $300,000 to local organizations for outreach and education that will encourage participation in the 2020 Census. The goal is to protect the roughly $3.8 billion a year that Rhode Island receives in federal funding for education, health care, housing and more based on Census data.

“These Census outreach grants are an essential tool to build the grassroots effort that will help us achieve our goal of ensuring that every Rhode Islander is counted,” said state Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, who co-chairs Rhode Island’s Complete Count Committee. “The work to ensure that every community in every ZIP code in Rhode Island is fairly and accurately represented must be community led.”

Among the 26 organizations that received funding are the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) in Providence, Progreso Latino in Central Falls and Meals on Wheels in Providence. The focus of the grant program is increasing Census response rates in communities that have been historically undercounted and are vulnerable to an undercount in 2020.

“The primary focus is to reach people who are considered ‘hard to count’ – non-English speakers, persons who are homeless and young adults among others. One of our most important tasks is to support outreach that motivates community members to respond,” said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, who also serves as co-chair.

Contributors to the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund include GCRI members Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the Nellie Mae Foundation, New England, the Rhode Island Foundation,  United Way of Rhode Island, and a local family foundation member. The Rhode Island Foundation administers the initiative working in partnership with the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee, created in late 2018 by executive order of Gov. Gina Raimondo.

ARISE received $10,000 for community canvassing and education, ethnic media outreach, community events, information sessions and training lead organizers and youth leaders.

“We’ve been organizing in the Southeast Asian community around the 2020 Census for the past year. This grant will enhance our work eliminating the barriers to participation for historically disenfranchised communities like ours,” said Chanda Womack, executive director.

Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island received $10,000 to train staff and volunteers, and for education, outreach and promotion of the 2020 Census to people who participate in the Home-Delivered Meal Program and Capital City Café dining sites.

“At Meals on Wheels of RI, seniors are always at the center of our work as we serve a unique population that, because they are homebound, may face barriers to participating in the 2020 Census,” said Meghan Grady, executive director. “This grant will augment our efforts to ensure homebound seniors are fully represented in the count.”

Progreso Latino received $20,000 to support its “Everyone Counts/Todos Contamos” Census Campaign. The campaign is a multi-prong, multi-lingual, social media and grass-roots neighborhood public education effort in collaboration with the organization’s community networks.

“We’ll include a ‘train-the –trainer’ component to ensure that influencers in the community can help spread the word among the hard-to-count segments of the Latino and immigrant community,” said Mario Bueno, executive director.

Amos House, the Center for Southeast Asians, Children’s Friend and Service, the city of Newport, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, the East Providence Public Library, the Elisha Project, Fuerza Laboral, Generation Citizen, Genesis Center, House of Manna Ministries, the Museum of Work & Culture, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, Providence Community Opportunity Corp., Ready to Learn Providence, the Refugee Development Center, Rhode Island Professional Latino Association, the R.I. Coalition for the Homeless, The College Crusade of Rhode Island, Thundermist Health Center, Turning Around Ministries and the West Elmwood Housing Development Corp. also received grants.

Sixty organizations submitted proposals totaling nearly $1.2 million in the first round of funding. The applications were reviewed by a committee of community members.

“Grassroots organizations realize how crucial it is to engage their communities on the Census and they went all in on the first round. The volume and quality of the responses made for a very difficult review and selection process,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments at the Rhode Island Foundation, which administers the program. “We’re grateful to the funding partners who are supporting this effort, and to the many local groups who will do the on-the-ground organizing in order to turn out their communities in 2020.”

Applications for a second round of funding are already being taken. Rhode Island-based nonprofit organizations, municipal governments, public agencies like libraries or schools; houses of worship and community-based groups have until Fri., Jan. 31, 2020, to apply for at least $125,000 in funding.

An information session for organizations interested in applying for the second round of Census 2020 Outreach Grants program is scheduled for Tues., Nov. 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Millrace Kitchen, 40 South Main St., Woonsocket. More information about the workshop and the program is posted at rifoundation.org/censusgrants.

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.”

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