Community Leaders Call for More Investment and Focus on Rhode Island’s Nonprofit Sector

Several community leaders — Mario Bueno of Progreso Latino, Anthony Hubbard of YouthBuild Preparatory Academy, Cortney Nicolato of United Way, and Daniel Schliefer of New Urban Arts — published a commentary piece in the Boston Globe on the importance of investing in the capacity and sustainability of the nonprofit sector.

Rhode Island can no longer overlook, and underfund, its nonprofit sector

Over the last 19 months, Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations have been the heart, hands and feet of Rhode Island’s relief and recovery efforts.  They provided food and shelter to Rhode Islanders in need. Helped underserved communities access testing and vaccines.  Supported children and families with the challenges of distance learning.  Provided physical and behavioral health care.  Helped isolated seniors connect with loved ones and services.  Provided support and training for small businesses and social entrepreneurs.  Trained workers for new jobs.  Uplifted somber days with beautiful music and art.

In some ways, the last year-and-a-half has been a story of unprecedented commitment and heroism. Faced with the confluence of health, economic, and racial justice crises, Rhode Island nonprofits rose to the challenge of skyrocketing need. At great personal and organizational cost, they overcame public health restrictions, inadequate staffing, physical and emotional exhaustion, and fundraising limitations to deliver services in innovative ways. They were a lifeline to thousands of Rhode Islanders during their darkest moments.

In other ways, the commitment and heroism displayed by our state’s nonprofits during the pandemic is completely normal. It is what happens when organizations are driven by mission and collective social benefit.

Every single day, pandemic or not, quiet, essential work is done across Rhode Island by nonprofit organizations.  Skilled, dedicated, compassionate staff work with limited resources to care for our neighbors, empower our children, and build flourishing communities.  Community-based organizations provide the expertise, energy, and innovation to make the state’s vision for strong, equitable, prosperous cities and towns a reality. Every. Single. Day.

And every day, whether in times of crisis or plenty, the state depends on these same nonprofits to make Rhode Island lives and communities better.  Yet, at nearly every turn, this vital sector is under-resourced, stretched thin, and often taken for granted.

Like the steel beams that undergird our bridges, the crucial work of our state’s nonprofits is so integral to the health and well-being of our communities that it can easily be overlooked.  But like our physical infrastructure, our “civic infrastructure” of unheralded nonprofits, collaborative networks, and community-based initiatives cannot continue to carry the weight of our state’s critical needs without comprehensive, long-term investment.

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Guest Post: ABFE Stands in Solidarity with Haitian Asylum Seekers — How Philanthropy Can Respond

From our sister organization, Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE):

ABFE Stands In Solidarity with Haitian Asylum Seekers

How Philanthropy Can Respond

As of Friday 9/24, the migrant camp under Del Rio bridge has been cleared ─ but the conversation around anti-Black immigration to the US has just begun. The inhumane and cruel attacks on Haitian asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border were heart-wrenching to witness ─ sadly illuminating a long history of violent detention and deportation by the United States. ABFE stands in solidarity with Black migrants who are typically left out of the immigration debate and commits to advocating on their behalf within the philanthropic sector.

We condemn the ongoing abusive treatment of the Haitian people and demand a dignified path forward for the thousands of Black immigrants seeking asylum. Mounted border patrol agents aggressively corralling people like cattle or runaway slaves was on public display for the world to see. We are equally concerned with what we are not seeing in mainstream media. Where are the thousands of Haitians now? What are their living conditions? Are they being treated with dignity and respect? There are reports that some are being held in detention centers and prisons, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or be deported. Those that have already been deported to Haiti have been dumped into a country overrun by strife and instability.

Many in this country were encouraged when the Biden administration signed an executive order on advancing racial equity in his first days in office. It states, “ it is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality” [1]. This does not appear to be the case in the area of immigration policy; anti-Black racism is alive and well – one just needs to compare the treatment of Haitians at the border with that of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in this country.

How Philanthropy Can Respond

Thousands more will make arduous treks to the U.S. border. Immediate strategies to address real-time humanitarian crises as well as long-term solutions for welcoming asylum seekers into U.S. society are needed.

  • Disinvestment – Foundations can look internally to see where their investments lie. There is a growing disinvestment movement – similar to the South African Apartheid disinvestment – focused on the Immigration Industrial complex. Similarly, the current Prison Industrial Complex disinvestment movement is focusing on immigration camps and detention centers.[2]
  • Invest in the Caribbean – If we care about Black lives in the US, we must care about Black lives in the Caribbean including Haiti. Why? The majority of Black immigrants in the U.S. migrate from this region and these families retain strong economic ties to one another. We urge international funders to focus on the issues and development of the Caribbean.
  • Support Organizations focused on Black immigrants (from the Caribbean, Africa, Afro-Latinos from South American countries) – The focus has been on Latinx migrants which means many of the services provided for migrants and asylum seekers are Spanish-language based.

ABFE recommends supporting the following organization:

United Way Invests $175,000 in Olneyville

United Way of Rhode Island has awarded a total of $175,029 in grants to 12 nonprofits for their work to create long-term change in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence where United Way is located. The community investments were awarded from United Way’s special Olneyville Fund and focus on supporting the Lift United goals of its LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan to create opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

A full list of grantee organizations is as follows:

  • Amenity Aid
  • Button Hole
  • Children’s Friend and Service
  • Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic
  • Farm Fresh RI
  • FirstWorks
  • Girls Rock! RI
  • Inspiring Minds
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Olneyville Branch: Providence Community Library
  • Reach Out and Read RI
  • YWCA Rhode Island

United Way established the Olneyville Community Fund in 2008 when it relocated to the neighborhood from the city’s East Side. Since, it has used the fund to invest more than $1.2 million to improve services for residents, increase the capacity of community-based organizations, and enhance public spaces.

Nonprofits Receive Nearly $450,000 to Help Rhode Islanders Cope with Continuing Effects of COVID-19 Crisis

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $450,000 in grants to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the COVID-19 crisis. With these latest grants, the Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in pandemic relief since March 2020.

Grant recipients were:

  • Beautiful Day
  • Be the Change
  • Be Great For Nate
  • Cambodian Society of Rhode Island
  • Centro de Innovacion Mujer Latina
  • College Visions
  • Hope & Main
  • John Hope Settlement House
  • Justice Assistance
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success
  • Oasis International
  • Pawtucket Central Falls Development Corp.
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts
  • Rhode Island Rescue Ministeries
  • RiverzEdge Arts Project
  • Saint Rose’s Church Corporation
  • Southside Community Land Trust
  • Stages of Freedom
  • Sophia Academy
  • South County Habitat for Humanity
  • The Herren Project
  • The Parent Support Network of Rhode Island
  • The Providence Center
  • The Samaritans of Rhode Island
  • The San Miguel School
  • The Village Common

With this round of funding, Foundation has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants to more than 150 nonprofit organizations since launching its COVID-19 Response Fund last year.

Safe Haven for Afghans and Haitians in Crisis — Guest Post from GCIR

In light of the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, we are sharing the following post from our sister organization, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR):

Safe Haven for Afghans and Haitians in Crisis

We at GCIR are heartbroken about the devastating crises unfolding in Afghanistan and Haiti. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the collapse of the Afghan government, and the Taliban’s takeover, many Afghans are fleeing for their lives. Meanwhile, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that recently struck Haiti heightens the urgency of Haitians seeking refuge at the southern U.S. border and the need for Haitians currently residing here to remain. As large numbers of people are being uprooted from their homes, we believe the United States can and must lead the world in protecting these refugees and offering humanitarian assistance.

In response to the events in Afghanistan, an immediate, large-scale evacuation effort and a significantly increased U.S. refugee admissions cap are imperative. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans are at risk in the wake of the Taliban takeover, tens of thousands of whom are in danger due to their association with the U.S. mission. Only 16,000 Afghans have been given protection in the United States since 2014 through the Special Immigrant Visa program, and an estimated 18,000 Afghan allies and 53,000 family members remain in the processing backlog. As the Taliban consolidates power in the coming days and weeks, the window for taking action is rapidly closing.

Haiti’s recent earthquake left at least 1,419 people dead and more than 6,900 injured, a toll that is expected to rise in the coming days. This disaster, coming on the heels of accelerating political turmoil in Haiti, makes it all the more important that Haitians already in the United States are not compelled to return to a perilous situation and that those who have fled to safety have access to asylum and humane treatment when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Although the Biden administration extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to additional Haitians in May, it is also crucial to halt deportations for Haitians present in the United States today and for Congress to establish a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders and others.

We urge philanthropy to:

Beyond these current crises, the U.S. refugee resettlement system is in great need of rebuilding and strengthening. The administration is on track to admit fewer than 10,000 refugees this fiscal year–the lowest number since 1975 and well below the cap–and has merely resettled 6,200 refugees as of the end of last month. If the administration does not ramp up the pace of processing applications in the pipeline, fewer than the previous low of 11,814 refugees set under the Trump administration will enter the United States.

We at GCIR know our country can rise to our highest ideals by providing protection to those who most desperately need it and welcoming them into our communities, and we believe philanthropy has a critical role to play in helping our nation achieve that vision.

More information on Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

Final $380,000 in Vax Challenge Grants Provided to RI Nonprofits

Nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis have been awarded another $380,000 in grants in the final phases of the RI Gives Vax Challenge. The funding was triggered as a result of the more than 25,000 Rhode Islanders who got vaccinated since the program was launched in July. More than 81 percent of adult Rhode Islanders are now at least partially vaccinated

The RI Gives Vax Challenge encouraged Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by awarding grants to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery every time another 5,000 people were vaccinated. As a result of hitting the 20,000- and 25,000-vaccination milestones, another 38 nonprofits from across Rhode Island received $10,000 grants in the final phases of the initiative.

With the final rounds of grants, the Foundation has awarded $750,000 to 75 organizations in partnership with Gov. McKee, the Rhode Island Commerce Department and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The RI Gives Vax challenge supports public health initiatives, bolstering the steadfast work of Rhode Island nonprofits and securing stable footing as the state moves into the next phase of pandemic recovery and response.

The other recipients of the Round 4 and Round 5 grants are Amenity Aid, Capital City Community Centers, Central Falls Family Self Sufficiency Foundation, Clothes to Kids RI, Foster Forward, Hope’s Harvest RI, Interfaith Counseling Center, Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, Lucy’s Hearth, McAuley Ministries, New Beginnings, Operation Stand Down, Progreso Latino, Providence Rescue Mission, Rhode Island for Community & Justice, We Share Hope, Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education, Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, Bridgemark, CartwheelRI, Centro de Innovacion Mujer Latina,  Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Good Neighbors, Housing Hotline, Inspiring Minds, Mentor Rhode Island, Open Doors, New Urban Arts, Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust, Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need, Silver Lake Community Center,  St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, West End Community Center, West Warwick Senior Center. 

15 More Nonprofits Receive RI Gives Vax Challenge Grants

Fifteen nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis received $150,000 in grants in the latest round of the RI Gives Vax Challenge. This third round of funding recognized the milestone that more than 15,000 people have now gotten their first dose of the vaccine since the program was launched on July 6. Nearly 80 percent of adult Rhode Islanders are now at least partially vaccinated.

The Vax Challenge encourages Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by awarding grants to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery every time another 5,000 people get vaccinated. As a result of reaching the 15,000-vaccination mark, another 15 nonprofits from across Rhode Island received $10,000 grants.

The recipients of the third round of grants are Better Lives Rhode Island, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Conexion Latina Newport, DaVinci Center for Community Progress, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, East Bay Food Pantry, Higher Ground International, Housing Network of Rhode Island, Man Up, Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Newport Community School, Oasis International, Project Undercover, Rhode Island Center for Justice, Rhode Island Chapter, American Red Cross.

An additional two rounds of grants totaling $380,000 could be awarded each time Rhode Island administers an additional 5,000 first COVID-19 vaccine doses as reported by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

For the next 5,000 new vaccinations, $180,000 will be awarded to 18 nonprofits; $200,000 will be distributed to 20 nonprofits in the fifth and final round when an additional 5,000 people are vaccinated.

Jointly established by Governor McKee, Commerce Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Foundation, the RI Gives Vax Challenge has now awarded $370,000 in grants to 37 nonprofits through the first three rounds.

Nonprofits Share $100,000 in First Round of Vax Challenge Grants

Ten nonprofits from across Rhode Island will receive $10,000 apiece in the first round of funding from the Vax Challenge, which awards grants to nonprofits on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic every time an additional 5,000 Rhode Islanders are vaccinated.

Jointly established by Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island Commerce Department, the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Foundation in early July, the Vax Challenge encourages Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by offering grants to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery.

The recipients of the initial round of grants are Access To Recovery, Adoption Rhode Island, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Elisha Project, Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, Refugee Development Center, Rhode Island Free Clinic, Southern Rhode Island Volunteers, WARM Center.

The budget for the fund is $750,000 to be allocated in grants of $10,000 to Rhode Island 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The state provided $500,000 and the Foundation contributed $250,000. Up to an additional four rounds of grants could be awarded each time Rhode Island administers an additional 5,000 first COVID-19 vaccine doses as reported by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

“Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is a way to keep yourself and your loved ones healthier and safer, and a way to support the critical network of nonprofit organizations that have been doing so much for Rhode Islanders since day one of this pandemic,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott. “Hitting this RI Gives Vax Challenge benchmark is great, but we have a lot more vaccinating to do. It’s never been easier to get a shot. If you have not been vaccinated yet, do your part and get vaccinated today.”

The Rhode Island Foundation will accept applications from interested nonprofits at rifoundation.org/vax through July 30.

To learn more about vaccinations and to sign up today, visit vaccinateri.gov. The RI Gives Vax Challenge Tracker can be found here: https://ri-department-of-health-covid-19-vaccine-incentive-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com/

RI Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund Awards Additional $550,000 in Grants

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded an additional $550,000 in grants from its COVID-19 Response Fund to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the pandemic. With these most recent grants, Foundation has awarded $7.3 million in grants since launching the fund nearly one year ago.

The latest recipients include the Dorcas International Institute in Providence, Operation Stand Down in Johnston, the Samaritans in Pawtucket, Turning Around Ministries in Newport and the WARM Shelter in Westerly.  Bradley Hospital, Crossroads Rhode Island, the Da Vinci Center, the Housing Network, the Interfaith Counseling Center, New Englanders Helping Our Veterans, Project Undercover, Project Weber/RENEW, R.I. Legal Services, the R.I. Parent Information Network, Sacred Heart Elderly Day Care and Women’s Refugee Care also received grants.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund was launched in March 2020 initially in partnership with the United Way of Rhode Island. The $7.3 million in grants awarded to date reflect just the grantmaking by the Foundation. Nearly 150 nonprofits received grants. See the list of COVID-19 Response Fund grantees.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan Foundations Give $1 Million to Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Education in Communities of Color

First joint community investment supports 42 organizations in five states

In their first joint community investment, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Tufts Health Plan Foundation are giving $1 million to support vaccine education, awareness and outreach in communities of color across New England, including $175,000 to Rhode Island organizations. Just one month after Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan announced their combined organization, this investment is an immediate response to emerging needs in Black and Brown communities across the region disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“With the pandemic continuing to have a devastating impact on Black and Brown communities, this funding will give a boost to organizations across the region working tirelessly to support the needs of their community members and create awareness around the importance of the vaccine, ” said Michael Carson, president of the combined organization of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan, and chairman of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation board.

Grants will support a range of organizations—from statewide organizations to local community nonprofits. They include faith-based organizations, trusted Black/Latinx-led community nonprofits, and organizations with experience coordinating multilingual efforts.

Rhode Island grantees include Children’s Friend, Comprehesive Community Action Program, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Local Initiatives Support Corporatio, ONE Neighborhood Builders, Progreso Latino, Thundermist Health Center, United Way of Rhode Island, and West Elmwood Housing Development Corp.

 

Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island