Women’s Fund Releases Statement Condemning Misogyny and Anti-Asian Racism

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island joined with members of the Women’s Funding Network in a statement of solidarity that condemns violence and systemic racism and misogyny against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). The statement is a call to action for philanthropy to invest in, and value, AAPI lives. See the full statement here WFN Members’ Statement of Solidarity and Condemnation of Violence – Women’s Funding Network

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.

Empowering Communities and Addressing Racism

Thank you to those who participated in the GCRI Community Empowerment session last week.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the session, the last year (and the last few days) have highlighted not only the devastating impact of racism on our communities and on people of color around the country, but also the imperative for philanthropy to deepen its work in understanding and addressing issues of racial equity and racial justice in our communities.

Part of that work is to acknowledge the complexity, pervasiveness, and intersectionality of this work — to intentionally listen to the voices of individuals and communities who have experienced current and historical racism, and to support their leadership in addressing the root causes and symptoms.

To that end, I would encourage you all to listen to the session, and to support local initiatives to ensure that under-represented groups in Rhode Island, like communities of color, people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, etc. have the resources they need to mobilize and play a leadership role in efforts to address the challenges facing their communities.  Historically, philanthropy has assumed that funders are better able to determine solutions than communities themselves, but now more than ever, it is critical that philanthropy recognize the necessity of resourcing and learning from community leaders.  (Email nancy.wolanski@unitedwayri.org to get the link to listen to the session.)

Supporting Our Asian American Colleagues and Communities

This week’s violence in Atlanta, where 6 of 8 of the victims were Asian American women, is only the latest in an increasing number of racist attacks in the US.  The STOP AAPI Hate project has documented over 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian racism over the last year, many targeted at women and seniors.  The language used by law enforcement in Atlanta, and the rhetoric used by some members of Congress in the hearing on Asian American violence, has exacerbated the pain felt by our Asian American colleagues and other people of color.   To our colleagues of color, please know that GCRI stands with you and your families and communities — we hold you close in this time of pain, fear and isolation.

As the racial justice protests over the last year have demonstrated, this is a pivotal moment for our country, and for philanthropy, to address the pervasive legacy — and current reality — of racism in the U.S.  We need to stand with all of those who have experienced the trauma of racism (and misogyny and other types of discrimination and violence) and to speak out against language and actions that stigmatize, demonize, or harm our friends, colleagues, neighbors or communities.  Our words matter.  And they need to be followed up with action.

As my colleagues Patricia Eng, CEO of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Erik Stegman, Executive Director of Native Americans in Philanthropy, write in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “It is time for philanthropy to do a lot more to curb the rising violence and hatred by using the power of its voice and its grant dollars…Although recent events have been incredibly painful, we hope the philanthropic sector will take this opportunity to stand up by investing in — and valuing — the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. A truly inclusive democracy demands that we meaningfully support these rich and diverse cultures, especially when some seek violence against them. As advocates for Native Americans and Asian Americans, we know too well what it’s like to be excluded and disregarded in philanthropy. This is a moment for the sector to act and stand with our communities.”
GCRI will continue to offer racial equity programming for all of its members, but we also encourage you to join the GCRI Racial Equity Catalyst Group, which will be offering opportunities to go deeper in your professional and personal roles as an ally, advocate, and funder.  If you are interested in participating, please fill out this survey so we can get your scheduling and content preferences.  Survey
On March 26 at noon, United Way of Rhode Island will be hosting From Challenge to Change, A Community First Conversation, a discussion about advancing racial equity in Rhode Island. This conversation will feature community leaders from United Way, Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), the Latino Policy Institute, and the Equity Institute.
If you are interested in supporting the local Asian American community during this difficult time, you can consider supporting the RI Solidarity FundARISE, the Center for Southeast Asians, or other BIPOC led organizations, many of which are doing anti-racism work in the community.  The three local organizations that we heard from during yesterday’s session that are doing important work on supporting BIPOC leadership in Rhode Island are New Leaders CouncilOne Neighborhood Builders, and Rhode Island for Community and Justice.
Other Resources in Learning About and Responding to Asian American Racism
Channavy Chhay, from the Center for Southeast Asians shared about the impact of recent Asian-American racism on WPRI
Bystander Intervention Trainings — Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Chicago) and Hollaback!
Combatting Increased Anti-Asian Violence in the Wake of COVID-19 — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Resource Directory
Philanthropy’s Asian American Exclusion Problem — Stephanie Peng, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Supporting Asian Americans in Georgia

 Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta has been working closely with AAPI community leaders and impacted folks in Georgia to learn what care is needed on the ground. If you would like to support them in providing community care, you can consider taking part in the action steps below and following their social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram) for updates on needs.

Three ways to support the Asian American community in Georgia:

 

Organizations

Stop AAPI Hate

Thank you for your commitment to creating a more just and equitable Ocean State, where every Rhode Islander can thrive.  That work is more critical than ever.

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.

 

Centreville Bank Foundation 2020 Giving Tops $1 Million

With its fourth quarter grant round of $113,861, the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation awarded a total of $1,063,861 in grants for 2020, the largest annual giving amount in bank history.

“There is a critical need for financial support for many charitable organizations throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut, particularly as the pandemic continues, said Horvat. “We are fortunate to be in a financial position to support them as they help the most vulnerable populations with everything from health care, food, shelter and other basic needs, to education and literacy.”

The latest grants to 15 organizations in Rhode Island and Connecticut, included Beautiful Day, Community Preparatory School, Coventry Housing Associates Corporation, Cranston Public Library, Day One, Friends of CASA, House of Hope, Reach Out and Read Rhode Island and United Way of Rhode Island.

 

RISCA Distributes COVID-19 Relief Grants to Arts Community

The RI State Council on the Arts (RISCA) has awarded close to $1 million in Covid Relief Funds (CRF) to artists, professional arts education associations, and arts and culture organizations. These grants announced today provide badly needed assistance to organizations, artists and arts educators who continue to experience economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

or artists, the CRF assistance is being distributed through the Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund, a charitable fund set up by RISCA to help artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. A total of $321,200 was divided up into grants and distributed to 390 artists.

For arts and culture organizations, and arts education associations, the funds are being dispersed directly through RISCA.

In addition to artists, and arts and culture organizations, grant recipients include 11 organizations associated with the Rhode Island Expansion Arts Program (RIEAP) and seven culturally specific nonprofits. RIEAP is a partnership among RISCA, RI Council for the Humanities (RICH) and Rhode Island Foundation to support community-based, culturally diverse arts and cultural organizations.

The grants were specifically designed to save jobs, help cover revenue losses and additional COVID-19 costs incurred in 2020.

State Arts Council Awards $750,000 in Grants to Artists, Arts Organizations

Arts and culture organizations, arts education programs, teaching artists in healthcare, folk artists and related community projects received $750,192 in grants distributed by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). These 120 grants, approved by the Arts Council’s Board in December, will support arts and cultural activities throughout the state during this fiscal year.

These grants depend on support from the Rhode Island General Assembly and federally funded National Endowment for the Arts, in addition to matching dollars raised through contributions from businesses, individuals and earned income from ticket sales and admissions.

More information

Democracy is not a state. It is an act. Responding to recent events at the Capitol.

“[Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”  John Lewis 

Democracy is not a state. It is an act. 

On Tuesday, Georgia, an anchor of the Confederacy and the place where the lynching of a Jewish man led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League, elected a Jewish Senator and its first Black Senator since Reconstruction with record-setting voting by both parties.  Yesterday, Congress gathered to do its Constitutional duty to affirm the results of November’s presidential election.  At the same time, the President incited a mob to storm the Capitol, endangering the lives of the Vice President, Congressional leaders, and police and staff, and sending shockwaves around the world as we watched insurrection on our television screens.

Yesterday was a testimony to the fragility and vulnerability of our democracy.  It was a reminder that evil can indeed triumph when good people remain silent.  And it was yet another undeniable snapshot of the disparate realities facing white and Black Americans.

It was impossible to watch yesterday’s assault on the Capitol and not be struck by the contrast between the white rioters seeking to overthrow the election, who were allowed safe access to the seat of government, and Black marchers protesting racial injustice, who were tear gassed and violently dispersed a few blocks away this summer.  Some of yesterday’s rioters carried Confederate flags through the Capitol building, a noose was set up on the Mall, and a new Congresswoman cited Hitler favorably in a speech leading up to the riots.

Many leaders have responded to yesterday’s attacks by saying that “This is not who we are.”  However, as Senator Mitt Romney said yesterday,  the burden and duty of leadership is to tell the truth.  And the truth is that Georgia’s racial progress and the Capitol riots are both “who we are.”  No matter our political party, we should rightly celebrate evidence of progress and accomplishment, and we also need to be honest about the continued presence and legacy of racism and white supremacy in our culture and institutions.  We need to celebrate the voter engagement by both parties in Georgia, and we need to condemn attempts to overturn a free and fair election that has been litigated without any evidence of widespread fraud.

I am glad to be partnering with you as we move into 2021, to build stronger, more equitable communities across the state, where all Rhode Islanders can thrive.  Our mission is more critical than ever.  And in this moment, we need to recognize that our work, and our voices, are needed now more than ever.   As John Lewis said, “It is not enough to say it will get better by and by… Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out.”

Philanthropy needs to be thoughtful and strategic in our response to our current reality, using both our financial resources, and our influence and voice to address the injustice in our communities, and to empower positive civic engagement so that grassroots organizations and the communities they serve can develop solutions to their own challenges.  We also need to think through ways to resource and support leaders of color and the communities they serve.  The positive change we witnessed in Georgia this week was the result of decades of community engagement by grassroots leaders.  We have so many strong leaders of color in Rhode Island, who are, in John Lewis’ words, “ordinary people with extraordinary vision [who] can redeem the soul of America.”  We need to support them.

Next week, we will be having our monthly Funder Briefing on Tuesday at 10am.  Later in the month, we will be resuming our Racial Equity Catalyst Group (if you have not already completed the Racial Equity Catalyst Group programming survey, please fill it out here) and will be having a timely session on civic engagement and community mobilization with local leaders and national funders.

Please let me know if there are other ways that GCRI can be a resource to you as you move forward.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.  So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.  John Lewis 

BankNewport Awards Over $250,000 in Year End Funding

BankNewport has awarded $255,000 in proactive year end funding to dozens of community organizations throughout Rhode Island to aid in their efforts to support those in need.

BankNewport awarded $125,000 to 27 organizations to help meet basic needs for families during the holiday season including: Adoption RI, Boys Town New England, five Boys & Girls Clubs locations, the Center for Southeastern Asians, Child and Family Services, Children’s Friend, five Community Action Program agencies, the Corliss Institute, Crossroads Rhode Island, the Elisha Project, Family Service of RI, the Federal Hill House, Galilee Mission, Genesis Center, Goodwill Industries of Southern New England, the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, Lucy’s Hearth, McCauley Ministries, Mae Organization for the Homeless West Warwick, Operation Stand Down, Progreso Latino, Ronald McDonald House of Providence, three Salvation Army locations, Silver Lake Community Center, two St. Vincent dePaul Society locations, the J. Arthur Trudeau Center, and the Welcome House of South County.

In addition, BankNewport’s Community Fund Committee awarded $130,000 in proactive grants to 25 organizations that have had operations and outreach negatively affected by COVID-19 and that focus on food insecurity, mental health, distance learning, minority-owned small businesses, and underserved populations.

Governor Raimondo Announces $8 Million Central Providence Opportunities Initiative

Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced that Rhode Island has been awarded an $8 million, 24-month grant to implement Central Providence Opportunities – a place-based initiative to increase social and economic mobility for residents of the 02908 and 02909 zip codes, and then scale these strategies statewide. The pilot initiative, set to commence next month, brings together the Governor’s office, state agencies, the Rhode Island Foundation, and ONE Neighborhood Builders.

The pandemic has further exacerbated and laid bare the degree to which a resident’s zip code determines economic, health and education outcomes. The Central Providence area, including the Olneyville, Hartford, Manton, Silver Lake, Valley, Federal Hill, Smith Hill, Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods, has been one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19 in Rhode Island.

The Central Providence Opportunities will be led by ONE Neighborhood Builders. As the leader of this initiative as well as the Central Providence Health Equity Zone, ONE Neighborhood Builders will convene community partners and residents and ensure the focus remains on addressing health disparities through systems change and policy reform. The grant will fund strategies to increase economic security and opportunity for residents of Central Providence, and across the state. Included is a $1 million investment in Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zones, which will provide infrastructure to implement lessons learned statewide. The remaining funds will be invested in organizational capacity building, project oversight and evaluation, and direct investments in:

  • Growing and sustaining community capacity;
  • Increasing affordable housing;
  • Improving leading indicators leading to 3rdgrade reading; and
  • Advancing workforce and business development outcomes – with a focus on minority-owned businesses.

Blue Meridian Partners has made a two-year investment in the Central Providence Opportunities initiative. The investment will be managed by the Rhode Island Foundation, and leveraged by tapping into new and existing state-level resources. The Foundation will serve as the fiscal sponsor, supporting the initiative anchored by ONE Neighborhood Builders, the Governor’s office and state agencies, and working in partnership with both to invest the funds within the identified priority areas. The Foundation will also provide technical assistance aimed at building toward a plan to scale impact statewide.