Seventh Round of COVID-19 Response Fund Grants Awarded to Provide Basic Supports

Twenty-three organizations across the state will be able to provide help with food, rent, utilities, and other expenses thanks to more than $700,000 in grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI).

Hunger continues to be among the most pressing problems facing Rhode Islanders affected by the crisis. Food pantries report seeing demand rise, driven by people who never before needed to seek their help. For many that offer assistance, the challenge of having enough food to distribute has been compounded by the scope of disruptions brought about by the pandemic.

With the latest round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund has awarded nearly $8 million to nonprofits across Rhode Island since March 27.

Donors have contributed more than $8.5 million since the crisis began.

Full list of awardees 

United Way, Hasbro Award Summer Learning Grants

The Summer Learning Initiative (SLI), supported by Hasbro and United Way’s Women United announced four summer learning grant awardees — Central Falls School District, Cranston YMCA, Newport Partnership for Families, and Connecting for Children and Families.

Working with nearly two dozen local nonprofits, awardees will provide summer learning programs to young people across Rhode Island.

More information

CVS Health and Rhode Island Foundation Donations Provide Computers and Wi-Fi Hotspots for RI Students for Distance Learning

GCRI members Rhode Island Foundation and CVS Health led almost 70 donors in support of Rhode Island Department of Education’s (RIDE) Distance Learning Initiative.  RIDE estimates that the more than $400,000 raised will fund the purchase of approximately 400 hotspots and 1,200 computers to close technology gaps for students and families.

Rhode Island Foundation made an initial challenge donation to the initiative of $100,000. CVS Health donated $150,000 to enable the Woonsocket Education Department to purchase 750 Chromebook laptops for students in grades three through five. The assistance will round out the effort to ensure that every Pre-K through grade 12 student in the district has access to technology for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statewide, the majority of students are able to access Distance Learning opportunities using technology provided by local education agencies. However, RIDE has identified pockets of need in some school communities, including families with multiple students or households without access to internet connectivity. The donations will be distributed to those school communities or used directly to purchase Chromebooks and hotspots.

The Fund will continue to accept charitable contributions in any amount at rifoundation.org/RIEducation as long as the need continues.

COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund Makes $3.7 Million in Grants

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 Supports Organizations Responding to Inequities

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.

Bank Newport Responds to COVID-19 with Donations and Volunteerism

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.

Tufts Health Plan Employee Groups Provide Grants for COVID-19 Response

Five New England community organizations received $10,000 grants to help address the COVID-19 pandemic from Tufts Health Plan Foundation through a program engaging Tufts Health Plan employees in grantmaking.

These grants were made through a program involving Tufts Health Plan’s five business resource groups (BRGs). Each BRG recommended an organization aligned with its affinity to receive a grant from the Foundation. The Foundation doubled the funding available for this year’s grants, recognizing community organizations need additional resources as they find new ways to deliver services and supports while addressing an increase in demand during the coronavirus pandemic. Prism, the LGBTQ and allies BRG selected Crossroads Rhode Island for a grant for their programming to secure stable homes for people who are experiencing homelessness or at-risk, including youth who identify as LGBTQ+.   More information

Blue Cross Makes $500,000 Investment in Housing

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.

More information

Latest Round of Funding from RI COVID-19 Response Fund Brings Total Grantmaking to $7.2 million

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.

Full list of grantees

Citizens Bank Awards $165,000 in Grants to RI Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Eleven Rhode Island small businesses and nonprofits received a total of $165,000 in grants as part of Citizens Bank’s Small Business Recovery Program,

The $15,000 grants come as part of a $5 million commitment Citizens announced earlier this month aimed at helping communities amid the coronavirus crisis, including $2 million in direct grants to 134 small-business customers across the company’s business footprint.

Rhode Island nonprofit recipients include Better Lives Rhode Island, Sojourner House, The McAuley Corp., Urban Greens Food Co-op and the West Broadway Neighborhood Association.