Best for Rhode Island Launched To Support Socially Responsible Business in RI

Best for Rhode Island Launched To Support Socially Responsible Business in RI

BestForRI-General

GCRI is excited to be a partner in the new Best for Rhode Island initiative launched at the December Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.  Best for Rhode Island initiative is a statewide campaign that equips businesses to assess and improve their positive social impact.

Through a confidential online assessment – the Best for RI Challenge – the business practices of participating entities are evaluated in four key areas – governance, workers, community and the environment. Participants are then able to develop targets for improvement, receive free assistance to help them meet their goals, and are publicly celebrated for their participation and improvement.

“We are thrilled to be launching Best for Rhode Island in collaboration with business and community organizations across the state,” says Britt Page, the program director for Best for Rhode Island. “Social Enterprise Greenhouse believes that every business in Rhode Island, regardless of industry, size, or location, can and should be thinking about ways to enhance its positive social impact. We’re excited to help shed light on the great things our business community is doing already, and to assist participating businesses in reaching their improvement goals.”

Best for Rhode Island is an initiative of Social Enterprise Greenhouse in partnership with GCRI, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and a coalition of business and community organizations across the state. The program and online assessment were developed by B Lab, the nonprofit organization that developed the highly regarded B Corp Certification. B Lab’s “Best for” program is currently being piloted in three other locations in the U.S. – New York City, Philadelphia, and Colorado – and other communities are in the planning stages for launching their own “Best for” programs.

The Best for Rhode Island initiative is made possible through generous support from GCRI member Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), Virgin Pulse, Worldways Social Marketing, and other corporate and individual sponsors. Each of these sponsors is a leader in the movement to use “business as a force for good,” and is helping to position Rhode Island as a great place to live and work and to launch and grow a socially responsible business.

“At Blue Cross, we take social responsibility very seriously, and strive to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us by investing and participating in the local community, improving the health of Rhode Islanders, valuing and modeling diversity and inclusion, and minimizing our impact on the environment,” said Carolyn Belisle, managing director of Community Investment at BCBSRI. “What we find most appealing about Best for Rhode Island is that it will help all businesses – large and small – to positively impact our state in meaningful ways. We’re honored to support this initiative because we believe that good business is good for business and more importantly, good for Rhode Island.”

“Rhode Island has provided a promising business environment for Virgin Pulse, and we want to pay it forward by being a good neighbor, collaborative partner, and strong advocate for social responsibility and community involvement,” said David Osborne, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Pulse. “Virgin Pulse clients and members all over the globe are using our technology to help change lives and businesses for good. We’re thrilled to extend our purpose to include what’s Best for Rhode Island.”

Mark Marosits, Co-Founder of Worldways Social Marketing, comments, “Best for Rhode Island reminds us that every enterprise has the opportunity to be a force for social good, and that Rhode Island can be the epicenter of this global movement.”

RI Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence Offers Programs to Build Nonprofit Capacity

RI Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence Offers Programs to Build Nonprofit Capacity

Rhode Island Foundation will be offering capacity building workshops for nonprofits through its Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence (INE).  INE workshops enable nonprofit staff, board members, and volunteers to learn skills and techniques that will enable them to better achieve their mission.

Topics include grantwriting, fund development and Board development.

More information

 

United Way Launches Giving Platform

United Way Launches MyFund Giving Platform

United Way of Rhode Island announced a new electronic giving platform, MyFund, that provides a mechanism for donors to consolidate their charitable giving.

Said United Way CEO Tony Maione, “Giving is deeply personal; donors want as much control over when, where and how they donate as possible.  People conduct so much of their lives online, we needed to build a product that would make online giving quick, easy and secure.”

Maione said that the new account was designed to be accessible, with a minimum yearly donation total of $1,000, and no transaction fees.

More information

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Announces Grants, Kicks Off 2018 Reading Across Rhode Island

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Announces Mini Grants, Kicks Off 2018 Reading Across Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) has announced its 2018 mini grant awardees for public humanities projects.  Public project recipients include Pawtucket School Department, for development and implementation of a middle school action-civics curriculum at Goff Middle School in Pawtucket;  Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island, for an annual event in Providence celebrating Langston Hughes’ poetic works and contributions to American art and culture; and School One, for the second year of a statewide creative writing competition for Rhode Island students in grades 7-12.

Evan Villari was awarded a documentary mini grant to support the research phase of a documentary film exploring the creation of the Scituate Reservoir in the early 20th Century and its current role as Rhode Island’s largest freshwater resource, and Raymond Two Hawks Watson was awarded an individual research mini grant to support research exploring seven places of aboriginal cultural heritage located within the city limits of Providence.

In addition, RICH announced the Reading Across Rhode Island, Rhode Island’s One Book, One State community reading program kicked off its 16th year with its 2018 selection, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Reading Across Rhode Island is a program of the Rhode Island Center for the Book at the RICH, made possible through a collaboration of librarians, teachers, book group leaders and readers from across the state. The 2018 program runs from January through May with readers in Rhode Island classrooms, libraries, community centers, bookstores and book groups invited to join discussions and participate in local community events such as lectures, exhibits and dramatic interpretations centered on this year’s selection.

More information

 

Women’s Fund of RI Offers Workshops, New Grants

Women’s Fund of RI Offers Workshops, New Grants

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island will be offering a full slate of programs in the coming months:

  • Feminism is a Male Issue (February 28)
  • Gender Equity in the Workplace (March 28)
  • Women Leading Change Celebration (April 26)
  • What’s In A Name? Media, Language & Representation (May 24)

More information

The Women’s Fund’s 2018 Grant Cycle has also been announced, with $50.000 in grants available for nonprofit initiatives that use a “gender lens” to focus on the unique needs of women and girls in Rhode Island and provide gender specific solutions to societal problems.  More information

LISC Rhode Island Grants, Initiatives and People Recognized

LISC Grants, Initiatives and People Recognized 

LISC Rhode Island awarded Amos House $476,000 to implement its Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO) model, a comprehensive education and support program designed to provide tailored services to move people into employment. The new grant is part of $72 million in funding awarded to 32 organizations through the U.S. Labor Department’s Reentry Project, which is focused on evidence-based opportunities to reduce recidivism.

Read more in  ProJo feature

With this funding, Amos House will be able to expand its job training and education programs and integrate them with the Financial Opportunity Center offerings, a highly successful program developed by LISC that helps participants with job placement, financial coaching, and access to public benefits. Amos House will adapt the BCO model to address the specific needs and services necessary for individuals recently released from prison.

“As a result of this funding, Amos House will provide intensive wraparound supports related to barriers specific to the re-entry population,” said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director of LISC Rhode Island.  “Participants will be able to complete the education and skills training components of the Bridges to Career Opportunities program and transition to employment.”

With a grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), LISC launched its Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) model nationally in 2010 and featured several sites in Rhode Island, including Amos House.  FOCs provide clients with three integrated services: employment coaching, financial education and coaching, and assistance accessing income supports. This bundling of services helps clients make important behavioral changes about money and improve their financial outlook, while preparing them to succeed in the workplace. The model has been successful in helping clients see real improvements in net income, net worth, and credit scores. Additional SIF funding allowed LISC to then introduce the Bridges to Career Opportunities model, which incorporated contextualized educational services along with career training programs and provided opportunities for those FOC clients who needed to build additional foundational skills to successfully complete higher-level skills training and be more competitive in the job market.

“In addition to job training and education, providing services to help participants navigate legal and technical matters related to child support, fines, court, parole/probation, as well as help with transportation, housing barriers, and substance abuse, will translate into meaningful change for this vulnerable population,” said Cola.

Approximately 2.3% of adults in Rhode Island are on probation or parole, which as of 6/30/17 was 23,081 adults in the state, and there were 2,797 individuals released in 2017 [1]. Of this number, about 5% of sentenced releases self-reported that they were homeless or had no permanent address. The Department of Corrections also reports that of the total prison population, 52% of men and 61% of women were unemployed at the time they were incarcerated.  Additionally, of this 2017 population, 35% of incarcerated men and 25% of incarcerated women had less than a high school education, and 51% of men and 38% of women were re-sentenced within 36 months of release [2].

“We are very grateful to LISC,” said Eileen Hayes, President and CEO of Amos House. “This was a very competitive process and the funding will allow us to focus much more intensively on people entering our training programs and accessing FOC services within 6 months of being released from incarceration.”

Nationwide, there are more than 2.3 million people in prisons, jails and other detention facilities, with 650,000 released each year from prisons alone. Studies on recidivism done by the National Institute of Justice based in Washington D.C. indicate that nearly 77 percent are arrested again within five years.

The award is part of a larger grant from the U.S. Department of Labor which awarded $4.5 million in new funding for LISC Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) nationwide. The grant will extend the reach of LISC FOCs in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Providence that operate in communities with high rates of poverty, crime and reentry. Amos House is one of only seven organizations across the LISC footprint to receive these funds.

The FOCs are part of a broader LISC effort to expand economic opportunity for low income people. It dovetails with LISC’s community safety work that builds police community partnerships, supports data-driven strategies to take on crime hotspots, and integrates safety into broader programs on economic development, housing and jobs.

People in the News

LISC Rhode Island’s Executive Director Jeanne Cola, who was recently profiled in the Providence Business News, published a ProJo op-ed on the value of supporting childcare as a taxpayer investment.

Deputy Director Cindy Larson received the 2017 Sue Connor Special Friend of Rhode Island’s Children Award from the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC) during the organization’s 51st opening banquet of their Annual Rhode Island Early Childhood Conference. Larson received the award for her lifetime of work as an early childhood advocate.

In presenting the award, Lisa Hildebrand, Executive Director of the RIAEYC, acknowledged Larson’s advocacy and leadership in early learning and child care in Rhode Island, her role as the founding director of LISC’s Rhode Island Child Care & Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF), and her long history of work in education.

“We are presenting this award in recognition of her leadership, commitment, and truly tireless efforts working on behalf of the early child care and education community, as well as the children and families of Rhode Island,” said Hildebrand.

“Cindy led the team that conducted a comprehensive study of child care and early learning facility infrastructure in Rhode Island. She was instrumental in receiving special permission to use Race to The Top dollars toward facility improvement and making funding available to help address critical health and safety issues across Rhode Island’s early childhood centers,” said Hildebrand.

In accepting the award, Larson noted that there is still work to be done despite broad acceptance on the critical importance of the issues around early childhood.

“Thank you all so much, this honor means a great deal to me,” said Larson. “It should be really easy to be an early childhood advocate – all the research suggests that the early years of life are the most critical; we have widespread agreement with the importance of early education; we know that quality child care is essential to building a workforce and having a strong economy.

“Everybody agrees on all these things, and yet every single day we have programs that are struggling just to make ends meet.  So the money is not connecting to what we know, despite our best efforts. We welcome all the new champions and I hope your voices will be loud and strong.  We will continue to advocate strongly with you for the resources that you need to make a difference in the lives of children.”

 

 

 

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards $1.1 Million in Healthy Aging Policy and Practice Grants

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards $1.1 Million to Advance Policies and Practices Supporting Healthy Aging

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced new community investments of more than $1.1 million, reflecting a commitment to advance inclusive policies that create thriving and vital communities that work for people of all ages.

“Communities have greater interest in age-friendly initiatives. There’s a growing understanding of the critical role older people play. They are an asset to community, and their voices and insights are invaluable to the public discourse on what communities need,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, vice president, corporate citizenship for Tufts Health Plan and president of its Foundation.

The Foundation’s new grants support initiatives to engage and train more advocates to participate in policy discussions; extend dementia-friendly programs to new communities; and address gaps limiting access to services and healthy, nutritious food. All are aligned with the Foundation’s focus on support for communities that work for everyone.

Three of the eight grants awarded went to Rhode Island organizations.  The Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island was awarded a $50,000 policy and advocacy grant for a program to engage low-income seniors and develop them as community leaders with the capacity to effectively advocate for policy change.  Rhode Island College Foundation received a two year James A. Roosevelt, Jr. Leadership Fund (community engagement) grant for $252,400 to build a powerful community coalition to advocate, design innovative solutions and develop programs/services for an Age-Friendly Rhode Island.  The Alzheimer’s Association of Rhode Island also received a one year systems and best practices grant for $15,000 to support the update of Rhode Island’s five-year plan on Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders.

The new grants engage nearly 80 community organizations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Blue Cross and Rhode Island Foundation Honor Nonprofit Best Practices

Blue Cross and Rhode Island Foundation Honor Nonprofit Best Practices

GCRI members Rhode Island Foundation and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island ended 2017 by recognizing exemplary nonprofit initiatives across the state.

“Our recipients emerged from a highly competitive process and an impressive group of nominees,” said Jill Pfitzenmayer, vice president of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence.  “There is something in each of their remarkable achievements that can help any nonprofit become even more effective.

Winners were recognized for their outstanding practices in the areas of Collaboration, Communications, Innovation, Leadership and Volunteer Engagement, working on projects ranging from cutting emergency room admissions to addressing the sexual exploitation of children.

“Supporting the best practice awards is a great fit for Blue Cross,” said BCBSRI Managing Director of Community Relations Carolyn Belisle. “We applaud all the award recipients for their efforts to address critical needs in our state, and we admire their commitment to implement best-in-class ways to deliver their programs and services. The work of these important organizations makes a difference to all Rhode Islanders.”

The winners received $1,000 grants, promotional videos highlighting their work and tuition waivers to any of the Foundation’s professional development workshop or seminar in the next 12 months.

Winning organizations were Foster Forward (Innovation); the Hattie Ide Chaffee Home (Communications); Clinica Esperanza (Volunteer Engagement); Day One (Collaboration Award); and Trinity Repertory Company (Leadership).

Collette Recognized with Hearts of Travel Award

Collette Recognized with Hearts of Travel Award

GCRI member Collette was recognized by Tourism Cares with a Hearts of Travel Award for long-term excellence in corporate giving for a small company.

The Hearts of Travel Awards celebrate and share models of corporate social change to spotlight excellence and inspire others, reflecting Tourism Cares’ belief that corporate citizenship, especially in travel, is good for business and employees as well as the community.

The committee scored submissions in the following areas: theory of action and execution (problem statement, activities, and outcomes); community engagement; storytelling; communications and advocacy; integration into their core business; and overall financial commitment.

According to Lynne Kelly, Community Relations Manager at Collette, “Although the award points backward in celebrating Collette’s last decade of giving, it comes at a time when we are looking forward, trying to see how we can make even more of an impact. This recognition is a reflection of the work of the entire Collette community, our culture of giving, and the fact we are dedicated to the value of social responsibility.”