Rhode Island Taking Steps to Address Early Literacy Challenges

As of 2017, less than half of Rhode Island third graders were proficient in reading, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race for Results
report, released last October showed even more literacy challenges for Latino/a students in the state.  According to the Race for Results’ “Opportunity Index,” which includes reading proficiency, Rhode Island’s Latino/a children are doing the worst in the nation.

In the face of these statistics, two GCRI funders, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island, have stepped forward to support and lead the work toward grade level reading proficiency.

The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recognized Newport, RI as one of 29 “Pacesetter” communities in the country, highlighting the city’s  progress on key indicators of early school success.

Newport’s work on early literacy is highlighted by cross-sector collaboration, including the city, school districts, nonprofit agencies, private organizations and state agencies, including an extensive partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health.  The work has been supported by GCRI member van Beuren Charitable Foundation, among other funding streams.

The Newport program provides resources beginning at birth, with letters to new parents with suggestions on how to build early language development by reading, talking, singing and playing; bags containing books and resource guides with information on programs to support early development and literacy; and links to parent support and educational programs, and home visiting programs.

Rhode Island Reads, a statewide collaboration led by United Way of Rhode Island and Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, teamed up with the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children to build awareness of the need for high-quality early learning opportunities for young children by organizing reading events in early learning programs across the state. Thirty-six guest readers participated —  26 state legislators and 10 community leaders, including the Director of the Department of Human Services, the Director of the Department of Labor and Training, and members of United Way of Rhode Island’s Women United Leadership Group.  Photos

Rhode Island Reads has also released its 2018 Advocacy Agenda, focusing on legislation and funding in the areas of school readiness, summer learning, chronic absence and learning to read.

 

Rhode Island Foundation’s Together RI Initiative Creates Space for Civic Engagement

  • This spring, the Rhode Island Foundation’s “Together RI” initiative sponsored 20 community meals across the state, to encourage residents to gather with their neighbors and talk about issues of importance to them.
  • From March 22 to May 5, nearly 1,300 people came together at the meals and “shared ideas about Rhode Island’s biggest strengths, the state’s biggest opportunities, and the challenges they and their communities are facing.”
  • Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg shared highlights from the Together RI initiative at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting in June.  A few of the noteworthy results:

The youngest Together RI participant was three and a half months old, the eldest was a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor.

1,721 pounds of baked ziti, 1,800 pieces of chicken, 2,304 meatballs, 426 pounds of salad, and 47 gallons of marinara sauce were consumed.

More than 73% said that after these conversations, they better understood issues facing their communities.

75% said that as a result of the conversation, they would be more likely to get involved in conversations and/or activities related to community issues.

Among the most consistent strengths cited in the conversations were the state’s compact size, its natural resources and recreational spaces, its colleges and universities, and its diversity.  Challenges cited included the need for educational improvement, limited funding, and the need for affordable housing and accessible public transportation.

More information on Together RI, the Rhode Island Foundation’s Annual Meeting and awardees

Collette, Rhode Island Foundation Help Launch Books Are Wings Literacy Program in Central Falls

Collette, Rhode Island Foundation Support Launch of Books Are Wings’ Literacy Efforts in Central Falls

Thanks to funding from two GCRI members, Collette and Rhode Island Foundation, Books Are Wings will partner with the City of Central Falls to provide literacy training for the City’s Parks & Recreation summer camp counselors, three book parties throughout the summer, establish six Little Free Libraries in strategic locations throughout Central Falls and distribute over 5,000 free children’s books to Central Falls students throughout the year.

The Little Free Libraries are available to both children and their families anytime, and invite participants to keep books for their personal use. Grant funds will also support the purchase of bilingual books to be included in the book selection.

Books Are Wings will visit Central Falls elementary schools multiple times throughout the school year to distribute free books. By the end of the school year every child will receive up to 6 free books to keep.

According to the 2017 PARCC, only 15% of third graders in Central Falls are meeting grade-level expectations in reading. This is a 2% gain from the previous two years. “The summer months are critical academic times for children. Children’s access to and ownership of books is crucial to maintain the reading skills they acquired during the school year,” states Jocelynn White, Executive Director of Books Are Wings. “We are thrilled to partner with the City of Central Falls to address this need and get more books in the hands of children.”

“The city is excited to partner with Books Are Wings,” says Rob Sayre-McCord, Director of Parks & Recreation and Community Services. “Together, the city and Books Are Wings firmly believe that this initiative will highlight the life-long importance of reading for youth in our community and will be a step towards offsetting the literacy issues our community encounters.”

GCRI Corporate Members Fidelity, Tufts Health Plan Give Back on Annual Days of Service

Tufts Health Plan Employees Tackle 35 Projects in 4 States

In honor of the Tufts Health Plan (THP) Foundation’s 10th anniversary in 2018, employees of Tufts Health Plan set an ambitious goal of 10,000 volunteer hours for the year.

After a very successful annual service day, THP is more than halfway to its goal.  This year’s record-setting Volunteer Day engaged 773 Tufts Health Plan employees in giving back to communities–in total 2,100 hours through 35 projects in 4 states–all in one day.

Pictured above are employee volunteers cleaning up the playground and outdoor areas at Federal Hill House in Providence; they were getting the grounds ready for summer camp. Other projects included building beds for children; prepping gardens that will supply healthy, local, affordable food; sorting donated food, clothing and toys for families living in poverty; and making paracord survival bracelets for deployed service members.

Fidelity Employees Assist Over 100 Nonprofits on Fidelity Cares Day

1,600 Fidelity employees in New England, joined colleagues around the globe to assist 110 nonprofits for the company’s annual service day.  A total of more than 8,000 employees globally provided services that will benefit over 15,000 students and almost 1,000 teachers.

In Rhode Island, Fidelity worked with United Way of Rhode Island to provide financial success fairs at Connecting for Children and Families and Genesis Center, assistance in building an outdoor classroom with DownCity Design, refurbishing a community center with Partnership for Providence Parks, and meal packaging for Project Outreach.

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Supports Efforts for Make Communities Better for All Ages Through $1.8 million in Grants

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced nearly $1.8 million in new community investments that reflect its commitment to make cities and towns great places to grow up and grow old. The new grants will support initiatives at 16 community organizations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire working to make communities healthier for people of all ages, with a specific interest in engaging older adults. These investments are in addition to nearly $1 million in previously announced work.

The supported grants in systems improvement and best practices reflect a trend of increased regional and local efforts to create age- and dementia-friendly communities. The initiatives promote cross-sector collaboration, expand engagement of older people, advance improvements to support the health and wellbeing of older people, and foster intergenerational connections.

“Each community will follow its own path to becoming age- and dementia-friendly. Support from Tufts Health Plan Foundation helps ensure resources reach under-represented communities at greatest risk for disparities,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president of corporate citizenship for Tufts Health Plan. “Everyone has a voice; it’s important that we listen.”

The two Rhode Island recipients of grants were:

Local Initiative Support Corporation (Providence, R.I.) The Intergenerational Farmers’ Market Project—to address social isolation for older adults through relationship-building activities that capitalize on the integration of arts, culture and community resources across Rhode Island. Two-year grant for $120,000.  (For more information on this innovative program, read the ProJo feature on it!)

Rhode Island Parent Information Network (Cranston, R.I.) Own Your Health: A System to Support Evidence-Based Health Promotion in R.I. for Older People—to improve Rhode Island’s system for providing evidence-based programs for older adults and their caregivers. One-year grant for $63,085.

GCRI Members Invited to Visit Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative Sites

GCRI members United Way and Hasbro invite GCRI members to visit to one of 14 summer learning programs of the 2018 Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative (HSLI).   Each program offers youth a fun six-week, service learning-oriented, experiential curriculum that is designed and delivered by a collaboration of school-day and community-based educators. No two programs are the same, but all of them work towards a common goal: to narrow the achievement gap—a phenomenon that research shows is significantly attributed to unequal access to summer learning.

More than 1,100 Rhode Island youth will benefit from the initiative this summer,  and site visits offer guests the opportunity to witness the progress being made to combat summer learning loss. Visits last one hour.

The following visits are available:

Central Falls — August 9, 2:00-3:00pm, Calcutt Middle School

Cumberland — July 31, 9:00-10:00am, Joseph L. McCourt Middle School

Newport — July 24, 9:00-10:00am, Boys & Girls Club of Newport

North Kingstown — August 1, 11:00am-noon, McGinn Park

North Providence — July 12, 11:00-noon, Greystone School

Pawtucket — July 12, 9:00-10:00am, Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket

Providence — July 30, 11:00am-noon, Blackstone Valley Academy at Moses Brown School

Providence — August 15, 11:00am-noon, YWCA Rhode Island

West Warwick — August 8, 1:00-2:00pm, Deering Middle School

Westerly — August 7, 9:00-10:00am, Tower Street School Community Center

Woonsocket — July 31, 2:00-3:00pm, C3 Center

Woonsocket — August 8, 9:00-10:00am, Kevin K. Coleman Elementary School

If you are interested in participating in one of the site visits or would like more information, please email hilary.ho@uwri.org or joseph.morra@uwri.org.

United Way Awards $100,000 in Affordable Housing Grants, Releases 2-1-1 Data Report, Invests in Olneyville

United Way Awarded $100,000 to five community organizations from the Housing for All Fund, established at United Way’s 2016 Housing for All Summit in 2016

The funded programs, by Foster Forward, Housing Network of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Center for Justice and West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, focus on education, financial literacy, workforce and economic development and collaboration.

“We know that too many working families are housing cost-burdened, spending more than one-third of their income to keep a roof over their heads and face difficult choices among the basic needs they can afford,” said Anthony Maione, President and CEO, United Way of Rhode Island. “We also know there’s a lot of good work happening in our state to tackle this issue, which was evident in the proposals we received, and we are excited to see the progress of the programs we’re investing in.”

More information

2-1-1 Data Report Released

United Way also released its annual 2-1-1 data report, with analysis of the almost 200,000 calls for assistance 2-1-1 received in 2017.  The most common requests include financial assistance (rent, utilities, etc.), health information, food and housing.

Full report

UWRI Awards Olneyville Grants to 9 Local Organizations

Nine local organizations were the recipients of a shared total of $90,000 in grants from the United Way of Rhode Island’s Olneyville Community Fund in late June.

The 10-year-old fund, which was created when UWRI moved its headquarters to the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence in 2008, aims to support community-based organizations that benefit local residents and businesses.

Recipients include The Manton Avenue Project, Providence Housing Authority, Meeting Street ONE Neighborhood Builders, the Center for Resilience, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Providence Community Library and Sojourner House.

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

RI Council for the Humanities Hosts NEA, NEH Leaders for Cultural Conversation; Announces Grants

GCRI Member RI Council for the Humanities hosted A Cultural Conversation with Jane Chu of the National Endowment for the Arts and Karen Kenton of the National Endowment for the the Humanities, as well as all of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation.  Over 300 community members attended the session, which took place at Trinity Repertory Theater.

RICH also announced a total of $136,429 in new grants to 14 humanities initiatives across the state.  The announcement ceremony, attended by over 50 representatives from civic and cultural organizations, recognized Rhode Island’s strong humanities community and the role the humanities play in civic and community engagement.

Grantees included New Urban Arts, Manton Avenue Project, newportFILM, RISD Museum, South County History Center, Rhode Island Latino Arts, Little Compton Historical Society, Providence Preservation Society and Stages of Freedom for the Public Project category.  In the Documentary film category, grants were awarded to Center for Independent Documentary, Rhode Island PBS and the Rhode Island Historical Society, while Meeting Street and Pushed Learning and Media/New Urban Arts received grants in the K-12 Civic Education category.

More information

Women’s Fund Announces 2018 Grantees, Hosts Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI) announced its 2018 grants totaling $50,000 to support gender equality advocacy and female leadership development.  The six recipients are doing impressive work for women and girls in Rhode Island.  One of the grantees, Young Voices, has been providing leadership training to low-income youth of color for ten years. The organization gives kids tools, skills, and experiences that will enhance public speaking, networking, analysis, critical thinking, and leadership.

Another grantee, The Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) has been working with female entrepreneurs in New England since 1995, preparing them for the business world. It educates, trains, supports, and certifies women starting businesses, giving them the tools necessary to getting their foot in the door. With this approach, CWE levels the playing field and opens doors for women business-owners.

A third grantee is doing significant work for refugees, work that is needed now more than ever. Aline Binyungu and Clement Shabani started Women’s Refugee Care in 2016 to provide services and support to refugees, and their work has expanded to encompass gender equality for women and girls as well. Their proposed project receiving funding from WFRI will provide counseling sessions to educate and support female refugees experiencing unplanned pregnancies.

Grant recipients were Blackstone Valley Prep (summer camp in 2019 to cultivate civic engagement and leadership for 8-11th grade girls); Center for Women and Enterprise (‘Community Classrooms: Spanish Language Entrepreneurship Training’);Planned Parenthood (RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom);Sojourner House (programming to all 10th grade health classes in Providence Public Schools);Women’s Refugee Care (counseling, contraceptives and education); and Young Voices (#RaiseOurVoices effort to address the root causes of educational disparities).

In addition to announcing a new slate of grants, on June 13, WFRI hosted a Gubernatorial Candidates Forum at the RI Nursing Education Center.  The session was be moderated by Maureen Moakley, political science professor at University of Rhode Island, and was focused on issues facing women and families in Rhode Island.  More info