Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Celebrate 20 Years of Grants with $740,000 in Housing-related Health Equity Grants

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island caps 20 years of community grants with $740,000 for organizations addressing health inequities tied to housing

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) awarded $740,000 in 2023 — $335,000 in grants to five organizations that improve access to safe, stable, and affordable housing throughout Rhode Island and $405,000 for successful 2022 grantees working on housing-related health inequities. Funding for these organizations comes from BCBSRI’s cornerstone grant program, BlueAngel Community Health Grants, which celebrated its 20th year in 2022.

BCBSRI’s philanthropic focus on housing is guided by responses to the annual RI Life Index, a statewide survey of Rhode Islanders administered by the Brown University School of Public Health in partnership with BCBSRI. The RI Life Index has consistently shown that access to safe, stable affordable housing is a top concern for Rhode Islanders in nearly every community. In fact, the 2022 score for affordable housing worsened – dropping from 40 to 33 on a scale of 100 – amid high inflation, high interest rates, and high prices and rents.

The 2023 awards extend BCBSRI’s investments in affordable housing to a fourth year, totaling $2.1 million since establishing housing as the sole funding focus in 2019. In total, since the BACHG program’s inception in 2002, BCBSRI has donated more than $6 million to local organizations, funding critical work that has impacted the lives of more than 333,000 Rhode Islanders. 

Grantees were Adoption Rhode Island, South County Habitat for Humanity, Jonnycake Center for Hope, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, Westbay Community Action, Inc.

Another $405,000 in grants were awarded to 2022 grant recipients who applied for an additional year of funding. Recipients included DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality), Housing Network of Rhode Island, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, Pawtucket Central Falls Development, and Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness. Grant recipients can apply for transitional funding when successful performance outcomes have been achieved in the first year.

Blue Angel funding is made available through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund maintained at the Rhode Island Foundation.  More information about the BACHG program is available at bcbsri.com/about/blueangel.

Blue Cross Invests $1.5 Million to Support Expanded 2-1-1

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Commits $1.5 Million to Expand Impact of 211, Improve Social Determinants of Health 

As part of an effort to improve the health of all Rhode Islanders, United Way of Rhode Island has upgraded the capabilities of its 211 service with a focus on linking health and social care providers around individuals with complex needs. In support of this work to expand the statewide role and impact of 211, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has committed $1.5 million in funding.

A major enhancement to 211 is the addition of a specialized technology platform called Unite Us that interconnects a network of health and social care providers. Now, when someone calls 211 for help or lets a healthcare provider know they are in need of food, housing, or other assistance, their information is entered into the platform and an electronic referral is made for the services they need. The referrals are tracked within the system and 211 staff ensure that individuals’ needs are being responded to in a timely fashion.

Currently, when healthcare organizations refer patients to community-based organizations to address social care needs, there is rarely a mechanism for the healthcare organization to know the outcome of the referral. This prevents effective follow-up and outcome measurement.

With social factors being such a significant driver of a person’s overall health, knowing the outcome of these referrals is foundational to providers’ ability to effectively meet their patients’ unique needs and manage whole-person health.

Powered by the Unite Us platform and 211 staff, health providers across the network can securely refer and track every person’s total health journey with their community partners. At the same time, it allows providers to report on all tangible outcomes across a range of services in a centralized, cohesive, and collaborative ecosystem. 211 plays the role of the coordination center in the network, ensuring clients are connected to the best program to address their needs, providers are closing the loop on clients’ needs, and that all providers are meeting network standards and performance measures.

Hurricane Relief Efforts — Florida and Puerto Rico

There are many ways to support those who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian.

FLORIDA RELIEF EFFORTS

As the work continues to assess damage and needs, United Way Worldwide will update funds accordingly on Online.UnitedWay.org and UnitedWWay.org.

Additionally, because of the intense and far-reaching impact of this storm, to support communities in Florida and other areas affected by Hurricane Ian, United Way Worldwide has created the United Way Disaster Response and Recovery Fund.  As part of United Way’s collective mission to build stronger, resilient, and equitable communities, United Ways in affected areas will continue to raise money locally and respond to emerging needs as appropriate for their community.  The national fund will absolutely complement those efforts and provide a single clearinghouse for individual and corporate donors who want to support all affected areas.

This fund will help local United Ways meet immediate storm-related needs and support long-term recovery throughout the affected regions.  It would also allow donors to designate their funds to local United Ways.  We’ll be working with United Way leaders in the affected areas to determine the best distribution plan.

Other Florida Efforts (Shared by Florida Philanthropy Network (FPN))

FPN has compiled an initial repository of resources for foundations and non-profits. You can access all accumulated resources by visiting our resource page – FPN Hurricane Ian Resource Page

PUERTO RICO RELIEF EFFORTS

The Boston Foundation and the Latino Equity Fund has a list of organizations working on the ground in Puerto Rico that you can choose to support.

(Shared by Grantmakers in the Arts and Philatropia Puerto Rico)

van Beuren Charitable Foundation and BankNewport Support Housing Study

Two GCRI members have provided funding to Connect Greater Newport, the economic development research arm of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, to analyze the availability of workforce housing for residents in Newport and Bristol counties.

van Beuren Charitable Foundation provided a $71,000 grant and BankNewport provided a $10,000 grant to study the gaps in available housing for the local workforce and develop a plan to predict and address those gaps for the next decade.

According to The Newport Daily News, “The chamber is currently in the data collection phase of the project and recently released a survey on workforce housing to member businesses.

The goal of the survey is to gauge greater Newport County businesses’ plans for their employees in the future, how many people they expect to hire and what they anticipate paying them, to better understand what the needs for housing will be.

‘We’re taking a bit of a different approach than other more traditional annual reports that come out about housing affordability because we’re not just looking at low to moderate income. We’re looking at the workforce housing category, which is considered to be around 80 to 120% of the median income,’ Donovan-Boyle said. ‘We’re looking at mid-level managers, we’re looking at teachers, nurses, even police officers, firemen, all of those types of individuals who fall into that salary range.’

The median annual income for households in Newport County is estimated to be about $84,282, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, which makes the salary range for households identified as ‘workforce housing’ to be between $67,425 and $101,138. 

The survey is just one part of the larger report the chamber is compiling, which it hopes to release by the end of this year. Donovan-Boyle said the chamber is also looking into how zoning laws impact workforce housing availability and trying to assess what housing stock is already available. The chamber plans to release a more official announcement of the project in the coming months.”

Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation Donates $190,000 to RI and CT Organizations

The Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation has awarded $198,850 in funding to 21 organizations throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Rhode Island organizations receiving second quarter grants are:

 

Nonprofits Receive $350,000 to Serve Newport County Residents

Over 40 nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents will share more than $350,000 in grants through the Rhode Island Foundation’s Newport County Fund. The funding will support work ranging from housing and summer youth programs to food pantries and behavioral health.

Conexion Latino in Newport, FabNewport, the Jamestown Community Food Pantry, Newport Mental Health in Middletown and the Washington Square Cooperative Services are among the 48 organizations that will share the funding.

Aquidneck Community Table received $6,600 to support its Root Riders program, which provides summer jobs to island high school students tending school and community gardens in Newport’s North End.

Best Buddies of Massachusetts & Rhode Island received $2,500 to support its Newport County School Friendship initiative, which will support the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through one-to-one friendship programs and inclusive group activities and events from elementary school through college.

Bike Newport received $5,000 to buy bicycle helmets for students who participate in its in-school Bicycle Education Program in partnership with Newport Public Schools. The organization estimates the grant will enable it to give helmets to around 300 children.

The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County in Newport received $9,978 to install a portable pool chair lift that can be used by guests of all ages who cannot use the stairs due to mobility issues to safely enter and exit the pool.

Child and Family in Middletown received $10,000 to supplement its supportive housing program. The initiative is expected to provide safe, secure housing to as many as 12 homeless Newport families with children.  The organization provides participants with wraparound case management and access to a continuum of care that provides the resources necessary for them to eventually secure permanent housing and improve the overall health and wellbeing of their families.

Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $4,000 to support its Blue Access for All initiative, which connects children with the bay, coastline and local ecosystems. The program is expected to serve approximately 120 children.

The Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation in Jamestown received $10,000 to support its STEAM Ocean Initiative, which serves students in Jamestown schools.  The program inspires young ocean and environmental stewards by engaging and educating over 500 elementary and middle school students each year. It was designed to address the gap between traditional and applied learning as it currently exists in science education.

Conexion Latina Newport received $10,000 to support its housing outreach program targeting residents who identify as Latinx. The organization estimates it gets 5-10 requests for help with housing a week.  The grant will be used to enable the organization’s director of operations to spend more time on working on housing outreach.

Day One, the only agency in Rhode Island specifically organized to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern, received $10,000 to provide evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse in Newport County. Last year, the organization supported over 350 children and adults through its Children’s Advocacy Center in Middletown and its adult advocacy and clinical programs.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport received $10,000 to subsidize its pre-school program. Half the students are English Language Learners and 96 percent come from low-income households.

The East Bay Community Action Program in Newport received $5,000 to support its Baby Steps program, which provides family education sessions and family enrichment activities that engage family members as partners in the education of children through the age of four.

ecoRI News received $6,500 to increase environmental reporting in Jamestown, Little Compton and Tiverton. It reports having an audience of 40,000 and a website that received nearly half a million visits in 2021.

Emmanuel Church in Newport received $7,080 to revive its monthly community meal program for needy residents. The grant will fund stipends for former food service workers as well as cover the cost of food.

FabNewport received $7,500 to provide transportation for approximately 90 middle school students who will participate in its NEX summer immersion program. The six-week program gives youngsters the opportunity to experience art, sailing, golf, farming, music, surfing and hiking among other activities.

Gnome Surf in Little Compton received $7,500 to add instructors at its Little Compton and Second Beach in Middletown sites, expand camps and develop an off-season surf fit program. The Little Compton-based nonprofit offers surf therapy, art therapy, eco therapy and yoga therapy to children and families of all abilities, including youth on the autism spectrum, youth with Down’s syndrome and youth who identify as LGBTQ.  In 2021 the organization used a $5,000 grant from the Newport County Fund in order to establish a secondary site at Second Beach in Middletown with weekly lessons offered by one instructor as well as two, two-week summer camps in partnership with FabNewport to introduce youth to surf therapy.

The Herren Project in Portsmouth received $7,500 to partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County on a pilot program designed to meet the critical need for prevention, mental health and intervention strategies for children and adolescents and their families.

Island Moving Company in Newport received $10,000 to support its Dancing Through Boundaries program, a comprehensive educational program that serves 5,000 students across Newport County Schools annually. The goal is to improve academic performance in math, literacy and creativity.  The grant supports programs at the Pell Elementary School in Newport and the Wilbur & McMahon School in Little Compton.

The James L. Maher Center in Middletown received $9,866 to expand its “Fresh” initiative, which blends planting and cultivating fresh vegetables with nutrition counseling, meal preparation and culinary skills training. The work includes hiring a part-time chef in order to increase the food service program’s capacity; installing improved lighting; and buying blenders and other small appliances in order to provide meals that meet special dietary requirements.

The Jamestown Arts Center received $10,000 to support its Free Community Arts Experiences program, which will offer a diverse array of arts experiences for residents to enjoy and learn from in socially-distanced formats.  Plans call for a year-long series of free arts events, workshops and collaborative art-making. The initiative will feature partnerships with local schools and multiple community organizations for community engagement as well as program implementation.

The Jamestown Community Chorus received $2,600 to expand its “Everybody Chorus,” where anyone of any age and singing ability is welcome to come to sing in unison.  The two choruses will perform on the same program. The Jamestown Community Chorus will sing choral music in 4-part harmony and the Everyone Chorus will perform popular music, show tunes and folk tunes.

The Jamestown Community Food Pantry received $10,000 to re-stock its facility on Narragansett Avenue. The pantry, which is the only source of free meat, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, fresh produce and basic household supplies on the island, serves more than 70 Jamestown households comprising nearly 130 people.  In addition to food, the organization offers personal care items, pet food, and, in the colder months hats, gloves and socks for those who may need them.

The Jamestown Community Piano Association received $3,000 to stage live performances as the organization strives to re-build its audience in the wake of COVID shut-downs.  The organization will use its grant to sponsor performances by well-known pianists that are likely to attract patrons who have lost the habit of attending live concerts in person.

The Katie Brown Educational Program (KBEP) received $6,500 to provide evidence-based, relationship violence prevention education to Jamestown, Little Compton, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton students in grades 4-12. Through the KBEP students learn skills necessary to recognize, avoid, and prevent relationship violence by shifting unhealthy attitudes and changing behaviors.

The Little Compton Community Center received $10,000 to support its Senior Lunch Program. The center prepares meals for pick up, for home delivery and to be served in its dining room.  Since COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, the organization has returned to serving meals in the center’s dining room. In addition, meals can be served outdoors on the facility’s patio during the summer.

The Little Compton Historical Society received $10,000 to research the history of the Indigenous people of the area as part of its “History of the Sakonnet People” project.  The organization plans to share the results of its research with the public with a book, a special exhibition and a series of public programs in 2025, which is the 350th anniversary of the English settlement of Sakonnet, now Little Compton.

Live & Learn in Jamestown received $10,000 to purchase additional and upgraded kitchen equipment and supplies, growing equipment and supplies, and computing equipment. The organization supports entrepreneurship, creative problem-solving and community-based, innovative approaches to community issues.  The equipment will include two new steel prep tables, a chest freezer, two new stand mixers, bulk bins to store food supplies, an additional sink, three shelving units for growing, additional LED grow lights and planting supplies.

Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown received $10,000 to support an on-site counselor during the evening and overnight hours at the shelter, which serves approximately 160 adults and children.

Meals on Wheels received $5,000 to support its work providing home-delivered meals to Newport County seniors and other homebound adults. In 2021, organization served more than 30,000 meals, a 30 percent increase since 2019.

MENTOR Rhode Island received $10,000 to support the Aquidneck Island Mentoring (AIM) program, which matches children with multiple risk factors with a volunteer mentor from the community who is recruited, screened, trained, matched and supported by the organization.

Newport Classical received $5,000 to support its free, year-round concert series that brings open-air, classical music concerts to community-centered locations across Aquidneck Island.

The Newport Community School received $10,000 to support its One Stop Hybrid Career and Employment Services program, which offers employment and training program services for people who are unemployed or under-employed. The organization expects to serve about 150 people.

Newport FILM received $5,000 to launch a pilot nonfiction story-telling program, in partnership with FabNewport, the Met School and Creative Communities Collaborative, anchored at the Florence Gray Center in the city’s North End.

The Newport Gulls received $5,000 to enable underprivileged children to attend its summer camps with players and coaches in Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth. The Gulls will work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, the East Bay Community Action Program, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and local little leagues to identify needy children age 6 to 12 that come from families experiencing financial hardship.

Newport Mental Health in Middletown received $10,000 to transport clients to behavioral health and medical appointments. The organization expects the funding will cover the cost of hundreds of rides for clients.

Newport Partnership for Families received $7,000 to support its Reading Reaps Rewards’ Summer Learning Initiative. The program serves 235 Pell elementary students across four city sites: Newport Family & Child Opportunity Zone’s Summer Learning Academy at Thompson Middle School, the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the Newport County YMCA.

The Newport String Project received $5,000 to support its after-school program for children and a professional chamber music series led by the Newport String Quartet. In partnership with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, the organization will provide free violin, viola and cello lessons to at least 40 students from pre-K through high school.

The Newport Tree Conservancy received $4,400 to support planting 100 trees in the Health Equity Zone in Miantonomi Park. According to the organization, the neighborhood contains only 7.5 percent of the city’s open space, but is home to 55 percent of Newport’s children under the age of 14 and 24 percent of students at the local public elementary school live under the poverty line.

The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown received $5,000 to buy a sensory tub station and support the creation of a science drawing station and a literacy corner for its new Curiosity Lab. The space, which will encourage children to explore STEAM, is schedule to open in September.

Sail Newport received $10,000 to support its 4th Grade Science and Sailing Program at Pell Elementary School. The 16-week program, which is provided during the school day, takes place on Narragansett Bay, along the shoreline and in the organization’s shore-side classroom. In the school year that just ended, nearly 150 children participated.

The Salvation Army – Newport Corps received $5,000 to support its Pathway of Hope initiative, which primarily families of color. The program will serve up to seven families at a time with case management for up to two years.

Save The Bay received $10,000 to provide environmental and STEM education programs to approximately 350 students at Newport’s Pell Elementary and Thompson Middle schools. In addition to classroom activities, students will participate in a marine science cruise on Narragansett Bay and plant dune grass to restore shoreline habitat at Easton’s Beach.

Shri Service Corps received $3,370 to support its Adaptive Yoga Project at Looking Upwards in Middletown and the Seniors Yoga Project at the Jamestown Food Pantry. The Adaptive Yoga Project serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities while the Seniors Yoga Project serves residents ages 55 and up.

The St. Joseph Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Newport received $8,500 to provide emergency financial assistance to residents facing emergencies, including eviction, utility shut-offs, lack of home heating oil, need of prescription drugs and clothing among other needs.

The Star Kids Scholarship Program received $6,000 to provide one-on-one tutoring, school transportation and after-school and summer camp opportunities for at-risk Newport County children and youth in grades K-12 for the 2022-23 school year.

Turning Around Ministries in Newport received $10,000 to provide case management and job readiness services to under-served and at-risk persons living in the community who face homelessness, poverty, debt, addiction and unemployment.

Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice in Middletown received $5,500 to provide professional development and support at all levels of the organization, which serves residents throughout Newport County.

The Washington Square Services Corp. in Newport received $10,000 to provide intensive case management services to homeless men and women at the McKinney Cooperative Shelter. The shelter serves more than 40 people a day and over 100 individuals through the course of each year, according to the organization.

The Women’s Resource Center received $5,000 to support resident leaders as they begin implementing the Newport Health Equity Zone Collaborative’s North End Equitable Development Strategy, which focuses on housing affordability and open green and civic spaces. The work will include expanding the base of North End residents involved in advocacy as well as making significant progress in coalition-building with individuals, organizations and other constituencies.

The Newport County Fund awards grants of up $10,000 to strengthen or expand established programs, to support policy or advocacy efforts on behalf of community concerns, to fund new projects that focus on significant problems or opportunities, and to leverage strategic collaborations and partnerships. In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of residents from every community in Newport County.

Established in 2002, the Fund has awarded $5.3 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. It is just one of the grant programs that enable the Foundation to serve Newport County communities.

Olneyville Programs Awarded $182,708 in Grants by United Way of Rhode Island

Through its Olneyville Community Fund, United Way of Rhode Island has awarded $182,708 in grants to programs whose work is strengthening the Providence neighborhood it calls home. The investments focus on creating opportunities for all by improving access to services for residents, enhancing educational offerings for children through adults, and increasing nonprofit capacity to meet community need. Eleven organizations received funding.

Grantees include Amenity Aid, Children’s Friend, Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Community Libraries of Providence, FirstWorks, Inspiring Minds, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Project 401, Providence Promise, and Teatro ECAS.

More information

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.

Bank Newport Awards $74,000 in Family Support Grants

BankNewport awarded $74,000 in proactive grants to support the missions of 64 organizations throughout Rhode Island and to provide additional aid for the holiday season.

“As a true community bank, we are dedicated to making a positive impact around the state,” said Jack Murphy, President & CEO, BankNewport. “These organizations work tirelessly to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors receive the care and support they need every day.  We are so thankful for their efforts throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, when they go above and beyond to make the season a bit brighter for those in need.”

Twenty eight nonprofits in Providence County received grants, seven in Kent County, thirteen in Newport County, five in Washington County, and three in Bristol County.  Eighteen additional statewide nonprofits received grants.

Photo: Jessica Couto, vice president, branch sales manager at BankNewport’s newest branch in Warwick, joins Lara D’ Antuono, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick, at the Club’s holiday market.  The Boys & Girls Club used a BankNewport family support grant to purchase gifts for its holiday market, which allows parents and caregivers to shop for gifts for their children at no cost.

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.