The new COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, funded by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Tufts Health Plan, as well as Neighborhood Health Plan and United HealthCare, has awarded $3.7 million in grants to more than three dozen organizations, including the Samaritans of Rhode Island, Bradley Hospital and Newport Mental Health to help Rhode Islanders cope with the behavioral health challenges of COVID-19. More information
Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced $170,000 in grants to 10 nonprofit organizations, part of the $1 million it committed to support community efforts addressing coronavirus in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut. In total, 49 organizations on the front lines of the pandemic have received funding.
“The resilience of our communities is inspiring,” said Tom Croswell, Tufts Health Plan president and CEO. “Nonprofits are grappling with a shifting landscape and uncertain timelines, yet they continue to respond to community needs and deliver vital services. We are proud to support such dedicated organizations.”
This funding goes to organizations working to improve access to food and respond to inequities in housing and services. It bolsters collaborative regional responses, particularly in communities reporting the highest rates of COVID-19 infection. In Rhode Island, Federal Hill House and Progreso Latino received funding.
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.
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for safe and affordable homes, as Rhode Islanders stay at home to slow the spread of the virus. But for many residents, this basic need is out of reach or increasingly unstable, a finding reinforced by last year’s launch of the RI Life Index, a data source that focuses on the life factors that influence health and well-being.
In response, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) redirected the focus of its 2020 BlueAngel Community Health Grant program (BACHG) and awarded $500,000 to nine local organizations committed to improving access to affordable housing. This is in addition to $200,000 BCBSRI awarded to five housing-related agencies at the end of 2019.
The organizations receiving funding in 2020 are each finding creative ways to make healthy and affordable housing a reality for those most in need, as well as helping them to become self-sufficient, whether through building vocational skills, learning how to negotiate with a landlord and understand tenant rights, or, in the case of formerly incarcerated individuals, receiving case management assistance and reentry support.
“Based on the results of the RI Life Index, we were determined to take action on affordable and safe housing, one of the best-researched social determinants of health. We know that selective housing interventions can improve health outcomes and quality of life, which is our ultimate goal for Rhode Islanders,” said Kim Keck, BCBSRI president and CEO. “Lack of access to affordable and safe housing has been exacerbated by COVID-19, and we are grateful to the organizations who continue to work tirelessly to combat this issue. We look forward to collaborating with them in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
Grantees include Amos House, Child & Family, Foster Forward, Lucy’s Hearth, OpenDoors, Providence Housing Authority, Rhode Island Legal Services, Sojourner House, Rhode Island Center for Justice.
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.
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.
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.
GCRI member Hasbro Inc. has partnered with a local games manufacturer, Cartamundi, to produce 50,000 face shields per week. The masks will be donated to hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work together with our partners at Cartamundi to produce much-needed personal protective equipment, to directly assist the critical needs of front-line medical workers in our community,” said John Frascotti, president and chief operating officer of Hasbro. “Throughout this challenging time, Hasbro is committed to using our brands, our resources and our expertise to help make a difference.”
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.
The Chartercare Foundation’s COVID19 Response Fund has acted quickly to address needs of nonprofits in RI. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $100,000 to the following agencies:
· Meals on Wheels to address increasing food insecurities among elderly and shut-ins;
· Thundermist Health for a call center and outdoor triage unit serving 52,000 patients in 3 locations;
· Meeting Street School for stabilization for vulnerable families in the early intervention program through tele-health initiatives;
· RI Free Clinic for triage response for uninsured adults thru teleservice infrastructure;
· Comprehensive Community Action for a telehealth initiative at 4 sites
· Women’s Resource Center of Newport for remote clinical mental health support for victims of domestic violence.
In addition, the Foundation has partnered with Family Service of RI in broadening the scope of distribution of Be Safe Kits to disadvantaged families throughout Rhode Island.
The Foundation will continue to monitor community needs and may open a second round of funding. For details on this and other grant opportunities, please visit www.chartercarefoundation.org.