Women’s Fund Signs Joint Statement on Sexism, Racism & Xenophobia; Encourages Women Candidates

On July 24, 2019, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island was proud to sign a joint statement by hundreds of sister funds condemning the recent attacks on four of our country’s elected officials who are women of color, in response to chants of “Send them back!” The statement reads: ” Women’s and Girls’ grantmakers, organizations and supporters across the country stand together in condemning the recent vitriol shown towards our country’s female elected officials, and in particular, female elected officials of color.”

To these attackers and their defenders, we say this: ‘You do not represent the shared values that move our country forward.  These values recognize and embrace leadership from all walks of life, recognizing the strength of diversity. For more than 100 years, American women have fought to gain our rightful place in our government institutions.  We will not back down. You cannot erase our presence, nor keep us from taking our place as leaders of this great democracy. As you continue to judge and demean people by gender, country of origin, and skin color, we will take the high road. We will judge people by character and by actions alone.  We will never stop speaking out against the words and actions of those driven by sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

The Women’s Funding Network, its members and partners are steadfast in their support of women of ALL backgrounds who serve and aspire to serve our country in an elected capacity.

We support the active participation in our democracy by those who were not born here, but who have worked hard to become citizens and have pledged their loyalty to our country.  America has always been a country of immigrants. We do not turn our backs on these citizens, and we will not stand to let the actions of a few diminish the valuable contributions they have made to our society.

Your words were intended to divide. They did not. Together we stand, more united than ever.

This past Saturday, WFRI joined with the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts and VoteRunLead to provide training to 60 women considering a run for political office. Participants practiced campaign “stump” speeches on the changes they wanted to make in their communities. When WFRI last ran this program in 2017, 18% of the participants ran for office and of those who ran, 60% won their seats.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S Constitution became law on August 26, 1920, giving women the right to vote. This date is now recognized nationwide as Women’s Equality Day. In preparation for the 100th Anniversary of this landmark decision, several organizations and volunteers are banding together to increase voter registration and the number of people voting in 2020.

WFRI will be hosting a training for volunteers on Aug. 26 from 3:00-4:30 pm in the State House Library on the RI voter registration process. Afterward, participants will gather on the State House steps for a picture and a commemorative “Toast to Tenacity” in tribute to the suffragists who fought for American women’s right to vote and in recognition that true gender equity for all has not yet been achieved. GCRI members are invited to attend the Toast without having to go to the training.

Both programs are sponsored by the Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. Co-hosts include Vision2020, Planned Parenthood Votes! RI, RI NOW, The Woman Project, RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, RIDP Women’s Caucus, RI Democratic Women for Leadership and the RI Federation of Republican Women

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.

Pushing Back Against Divisive Racist Rhetoric and Reaffirming Philanthropy’s Values

As I was reflecting on this post, I came across a poem by Diane Ackerman in Tara Brach’s book “True Refuge.” The poem, “School Prayer,” includes this stanza:

I swear I will not dishonor
My soul with hatred,
But offer myself humbly
As a guardian of nature,
As a healer of misery,
As a messenger of wonder,
As an architect of peace.

To all my friends and colleagues in the social sector, to all those we are privileged to work with, this is you—this is us. Even in a time of outrages, perhaps especially in such a time, the work remains the work—to be guardians of nature, healers of misery, messengers of wonder, and architects of peace. 

That is our most daunting challenge right now but also our greatest calling: Not to lose heart, not to succumb, not to fall silent, but to continue through our work to manifest love as the only known antidote to hate.

— excerpted from blog post from Grant Oliphant, Heinz Endowment

Many of us have been disheartened with the re-emergence of divisive and racist language in the national discourse recently.

It is vitally important that philanthropy push back against language that insinuates that immigrants and people of color somehow don’t belong in our communities and civic life. We want GCRI to be a safe place for Rhode Islanders in philanthropy to bring their best selves, without fear, and we know that immigrants and people of color bring invaluable experience, expertise and wisdom to our collective work.

If you are an immigrant or person of color, please know that we support you during this difficult time. Please reach out to immigrants and people of color in your workplaces, networks and neighborhoods, to let them know your support and care.

In addition, this is an important to reaffirm your values as an organization and step forward to lead our communities and conversations forward in ways that demonstrate respect, compassion, collaboration and solidarity.

As Jim Canales of the Barr Foundation stated, “We must boldly proclaim the values that unite us, drive us, and bind us to our work of higher mission and purpose. As exhausting and dispiriting as it is to find ourselves at such a moment again, we must persevere. And, as we do, the circle of voices carrying this message of resolve and of hope grows larger and stronger, the best of who we are is manifest again.”

Here are some foundations that have taken this opportunity to step forward and share their guiding values and principles:

Heinz Endowment
Barr Foundation
San Francisco Foundation
Boston Foundation
KR Foundation

United Way and OneCranston Partner to Explore “American Creed”

On July 24, The Cranston Public Library, in partnership with OneCranston Working Cities Challenge Initiative (a grant competition designed to advance collaborative leadership in smaller, postindustrial cities to transform the lives of their low-income residents), hosted a screening of the PBS documentary American Creed at Central Library. The screening was followed by a Community Conversation facilitated by Larry Warner, Director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives, United Way of Rhode Island.

In the documentary film AMERICAN CREED, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from different points of view to investigate the idea of a unifying American creed. Their spirited inquiry frames the stories of citizen-activists striving to realize their own visions of America’s promise across deepening divides.

The post-viewing discussion engaged participants around concepts like “the gap between the promise of America and the reality for far too many,” America as the “Melting Pot,” and what happens when you stop showing up for democracy and cede the field to those who do.

Cranston Patch article

GCRI Members Partner on Arts Advocacy Workshop

In the arts community, there are many overlapping policy issues — from the need for affordable housing, investment in arts and afterschool programming as well as the need for financial literacy to create a more stable existence for many artists and those they serve.

United Way of Rhode Island worked with Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and the City of Providence to train over 40 artists and arts supporters at “Arts Trifecta: Advocacy 101.”

United Way is planning on a continued partnership with the arts and culture funders around advocacy training and intersectional social issues.

Power Sharing Among Grantees and Funders Materials Available from FCCP

GCRI partner, Funders Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP), recently hosted a webinar on Power Sharing as part of their Summer Equity and Power Sharing series.

Slides and a recording of the program are now available. Thanks to FCCP for making this available to the Forum network, and thanks to Lori Villarosa of Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) for walking funders through how philanthropy can intentionally tackle the realities of racism and connect these threads to present day grantmaking practices, as well as to Jennifer Epps-Addison with The Center for Popular Democracy, Dana Kawaoka-Chen with Justice Funders, Dimple Abichandani with General Service Foundation, and Farhad Ebrahimi with Chorus Foundation for addressing power sharing and grantmaking strategies that can change the who, what, and how of support through integrating a racial equity lens.

Resources for Educational Equity

Thanks to those of you who were able to attend this morning’s session on Education Disparities.  It was a compelling conversation about equity in both education and philanthropy. 

If you would like to listen to the audio of the session, please contact Nancy at Nancy.wolanski@uwri.org. Panelists were Marcela Betancur, Latino Policy Institute; Elizabeth Burke Bryant, RI Kids Count; Karla Vigil, EduLeaders of Color; Nick Donahue, Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

  • If you would like a copy of the Latino Policy Institute report on education disparities, as well as some policies recommended by the Schott Foundation and the National Education Policy Center for ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn, regardless of their background or which school they attend, or Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s new principles centering their work around racial equity, please contact Nancy at Nancy.wolanski@uwri.org.
  • The Schott Foundation in Boston, which has done a lot of work around racial equity in education, is offering a webinar this Thursday, April 11 at 2:00pm if you’d like to learn more about Culturally Responsive CurriculaLearn more
  • Some of the handouts Nick shared are:

Paid in Full by Dorian O. Burton and Brian C.B. Barnes

The Road to Achieving Equity by Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Elizabeth Russell

Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege by Gita Gulati-Partee

Where White Privilege Came From by Allan G. Johnson

  • Look for more information soon about our May GCRI session on Collective Impact.  We will be working with the Federal Reserve and Working Cities Challenge on an engaging session about developing deeper partnerships and co-creating with community partners.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of RI, LISC, Rhode Island Foundation Release 2017 Community Reports

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has released it 2017 Community Report, focused on its wide range of involvement in child health and wellbeing, healthcare access and equity, the opioid crisis, and volunteerism and philanthropy.

Full report

LISC RI, a GCRI member, is part of national LISC, which  invested $1.2 billion nationwide in 2017, including $27 million in Rhode Island.  One of the featured stories in the report is the work of the Health Empowerment Zone in Pawtucket/Central Falls, which is adminstered by LISC RI.

Full report

The Rhode Island Foundation’s annual report details information on the $43 million in grants to more than 1,700 the Foundation awarded in 2017, including grants in strategic areas such as economic security, educational success, and healthy lives.

Full report

The Importance of Census 2020 for Funders

The Importance of Census 2020 for Philanthropy and the Communities We Care About

The final segment of the GCRI session on the federal budget last week was focused on the upcoming 2020 Census.  As you know, the decennial census determines the allocation of more than $600 billion in federal assistance to states, localities and families.  Philanthropic funding, while important to Rhode Island communities, is obviously only a small portion of the federal resources that come into the state.  It is important that the Census get an accurate count of Rhode Island communities to ensure that they receive adequate resources from a shrinking pool of federal dollars.

The only test site for the 2020 Census is Providence County (currently underway), although lapses in funding mean that this test is primarily focused on testing the Census technology, and messaging will not be tested.

Historically, the census has missed disproportionate numbers of young children, people of color, and the rural and urban poor.  In the current environment, refugees and immigrants are reluctant to participate, and the proposed addition of a citizenship question will likely increase the difficulty in getting an accurate count of these populations.  In Rhode Island, particularly hard to count communities in the last census included sections of Washington County, Newport County, West Warwick, Providence, East Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Lincoln, North Providence and Woonsocket.

A few other facts about undercounted groups (from Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights Census webpage):

Children under age five are the most likely of all age groups to be undercounted.  In 2010, the undercount rate for young children was 4.6% and more than 2.2 million in this age group were not included in the census results.

In 2010, Hispanic children under age five were overlooked at twice the rate of young non-Hispanic White children, and up to 400,000 young Latino children were missed.

The 2010 Census undercounted the African American population by more than 2 percent, and approximately 6.5 percent of young African American children were overlooked, roughly twice the rate for young non-Hispanic white children. Also startling, the net undercount of Black men between the ages of 30-49 was more than 10 percent. Today, more than one in three African Americans live in hard-to-count census tracts.

 Since many of you work hard to support groups and geographic areas that tend to be undercounted, it’s important to work with your community partners in the next two years to ensure that they are counted accurately, and have access to the federal resources they should have access to.

  1. There are two upcoming opportunities to learn more about opportunities for philanthropy to be involved in supporting an accurate count of Rhode Islanders:Next Monday, April 9, from 2:00-3:00pm, our partner in the Forum, Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP) will be hosting a webinar on “Participate. Convene. Invest.  A Call to Action for Philanthropy for Census 2020.”   Register
  2. RI Kids Count is co-sponsoring a Census Solutions workshop on April 13 for community organizations to help strategize ways to reach Rhode Island populations that are typically undercounted.  If you are interested in participating or have a community partner who would be a valuable part of the conversation, more information.

Moving forward, there are many resources for funders available:

The Funders Committee for Civic Participation, a sister organization in the Forum, has also initiated a Funders Census Initiative if you would like to keep abreast of Census-related information for funders.

If you are interested in ideas about how funders can be involved in different aspects of supporting the Census, FCCP developed a menu of opportunities.

If you would like more information about the current status of Providence test, preparations for the 2020 Census, the addition of the citizenship question or other general information about the Census, the Forum has complied a number of articles that may be of interest:

Forum Partner Events

One of the benefits of being a member of United Philanthropy Forum is access to content experts and funders from around the country.

Here are a few upcoming events sponsored by Forum members.  See links for registration and fee information.

Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP)

Relationships Matter:  Strong Funder-Grantee Relationships Webinar — November 16

What is a strong funder-grantee relationship — and what does it take to form one with your grantees?  Join CEP for a data-driven discussion of why funder-grantee relationships are so important to foundation effectiveness — and what areas in which program staff should focus to build and maintain strong ones. In the webinar, CEP Vice President, Research, Ellie Buteau will share findings from not-yet-released CEP research, followed by an interactive discussion with a panel of highly rated program officers about their experiences building relationships with their grantees, facilitated by CEP President Phil Buchanan.  Attendees will have ample opportunity to ask questions to the presenters and can expect to come away with a clear picture of what the data shows to constitute a strong funder-grantee relationship, as well as best practices to apply to their work at their own foundation.  More information and registration

Exponent Philanthropy

Great Funder-Nonprofit Relationships Webinar — November 9

What makes a great funder-nonprofit relationship?  Over the course of 2017, Exponent Philanthropy, in collaboration with the National Council of Nonprofits, explored that question along with funders and nonprofits from around the country.  This webinar will share findings, lessons learned, and practical strategies.  The session will cover funder and nonprofit feedback on building trust, leaning into discomfort, and navigating the power dynamics inherent in grantmaking, as well as ways to cultivate great relationships between funders and nonprofits.  More info and registration

Impact Investing:  From Concept to Reality Webinar — November 1

Through stories and examples, learn how Foundations have aligned their investment portfolios with their philanthropic missions.  This webinar was created for foundations that are beginning to explore impact investing, or for Foundations looking for ways to advance their impact investing program.  Topics will include fantasy versus reality: what can foundations expect out of an impact investing program in the first couple of years; helping trustees explore and define impact; how to implement impact investing into a portfolio; examples of customizing investment strategies to align with mission; costs associated with an impact investing program; and questions and discussion points to bring back to your trustees, or to your investment advisor.  More info and registration

Fund the People

Fund the People is offering a series of webinar case studies on the value of investing in nonprofit staff development. 

New York Community Trust Field Story Webinar — November 17
The webinar will provide a deeper understanding of The New York Community Trust’s values, philosophy, and talent-investing practices, with a focus on the impact talent-investing has on graduates of the Leadership Fellows Program, and their nonprofit organizations.  More info and registration

Community Memorial Foundation Field Story Webinar — December 12
Explore how the Illinois-based Community Memorial Foundation holistically invests in strengthening nonprofit professionals and organizations, as well as the impact the foundation’s talent-investments have on the effectiveness of Aging Care Connections. More info and registration

Funders Committee for Civic Participation

Key 2020 Census Milestones:  Preparing to Invest in a Fair and Accurate Count — November 16

Join us to learn more about important milestones before and during the 2020 Census, and ways your foundation can support “Get Out the Count” activities, including participation in state and local Complete Count Committees.  Co-sponsors:  United Philanthropy Forum, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Funders Together to End Homelessness  More info and registration

Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN)

Charting a Climate, Health and Equity Agenda:  Investing in Those Most Impacted to Improve Health and the Environment — November 14 

View the agenda and register.

HEFN’s 2017 Annual Meeting, “Rewriting the Rules: Opportunities for Health and Environmental Justice in Disruptive Times”  — November 15-16

View the agenda for the 2017 HEFN Annual Meeting and register.

Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Philanthropy and Racial Equity: Race Matters/Responsive in Black Communities Training — November 30

This training, derived from the Race Matters Toolkit, presents a valuable framework that has guided and informed ABAG’s work since it was first offered to ABAG’s Board, Staff and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in April 2013. This training is designed to increase grantmakers’ understanding of key concepts and definitions for racial equity and three specific tools used for applying a racial equity lens to grantmaking.

Non-ABAG member grantmakers are invited to attend this workshop for a fee of $100.00.