Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Celebrate 20 Years of Grants with $740,000 in Housing-related Health Equity Grants

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island caps 20 years of community grants with $740,000 for organizations addressing health inequities tied to housing

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) awarded $740,000 in 2023 — $335,000 in grants to five organizations that improve access to safe, stable, and affordable housing throughout Rhode Island and $405,000 for successful 2022 grantees working on housing-related health inequities. Funding for these organizations comes from BCBSRI’s cornerstone grant program, BlueAngel Community Health Grants, which celebrated its 20th year in 2022.

BCBSRI’s philanthropic focus on housing is guided by responses to the annual RI Life Index, a statewide survey of Rhode Islanders administered by the Brown University School of Public Health in partnership with BCBSRI. The RI Life Index has consistently shown that access to safe, stable affordable housing is a top concern for Rhode Islanders in nearly every community. In fact, the 2022 score for affordable housing worsened – dropping from 40 to 33 on a scale of 100 – amid high inflation, high interest rates, and high prices and rents.

The 2023 awards extend BCBSRI’s investments in affordable housing to a fourth year, totaling $2.1 million since establishing housing as the sole funding focus in 2019. In total, since the BACHG program’s inception in 2002, BCBSRI has donated more than $6 million to local organizations, funding critical work that has impacted the lives of more than 333,000 Rhode Islanders. 

Grantees were Adoption Rhode Island, South County Habitat for Humanity, Jonnycake Center for Hope, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, Westbay Community Action, Inc.

Another $405,000 in grants were awarded to 2022 grant recipients who applied for an additional year of funding. Recipients included DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality), Housing Network of Rhode Island, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, Pawtucket Central Falls Development, and Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness. Grant recipients can apply for transitional funding when successful performance outcomes have been achieved in the first year.

Blue Angel funding is made available through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund maintained at the Rhode Island Foundation.  More information about the BACHG program is available at bcbsri.com/about/blueangel.

Point32Health Provides $700,000 to New England Food Banks; Giving Tuesday Contributions Total Over $800,000

Point32Health Foundation announced today grants totaling $700,000 to seven food banks in New England. Each organization will receive $100,000 to increase capacity to respond to the growing community need for emergency food support.

These investments support general operations, including staff salaries, the purchase of fresh and non-perishable food, and fuel costs for distribution. Funds also will go to advocacy efforts that promote system and policy changes addressing root causes of hunger, and aligned with the new National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank received a grant of $100,000.

On Giving Tuesday,  Point32Health Board and colleague donations to nonprofit organizations were nearly $300,000. With the double match from the Foundation, a total of more than $800,000 will be distributed to community organizations advancing their mission of healthier lives for everyone.

The team also organized on-site and remote service activities for colleagues. Overall, colleagues packed 198 hygiene kits and wrote 200 well-wish notes for Heading Home and Services for the Elderly of Farmington; crafted 18 fleece blankets with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley to support people experiencing homelessness; painted murals with Foundation for Hospital Art to soften hospital environments; and created cards for children served by Cradles to Crayons. In all, 80 colleagues volunteered their time on #GivingTuesday.

Point32Health colleagues also donated more than $12,000 in gifts and essentials during the company’s annual Wish Drive.

Goods will go to people experiencing economic uncertainty across the region through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine, Casa Project Worcester, the New England Center and Home for Veterans, Webster House, and the Pawtucket YMCA.

 

Blue Cross Invests $1.5 Million to Support Expanded 2-1-1

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Commits $1.5 Million to Expand Impact of 211, Improve Social Determinants of Health 

As part of an effort to improve the health of all Rhode Islanders, United Way of Rhode Island has upgraded the capabilities of its 211 service with a focus on linking health and social care providers around individuals with complex needs. In support of this work to expand the statewide role and impact of 211, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has committed $1.5 million in funding.

A major enhancement to 211 is the addition of a specialized technology platform called Unite Us that interconnects a network of health and social care providers. Now, when someone calls 211 for help or lets a healthcare provider know they are in need of food, housing, or other assistance, their information is entered into the platform and an electronic referral is made for the services they need. The referrals are tracked within the system and 211 staff ensure that individuals’ needs are being responded to in a timely fashion.

Currently, when healthcare organizations refer patients to community-based organizations to address social care needs, there is rarely a mechanism for the healthcare organization to know the outcome of the referral. This prevents effective follow-up and outcome measurement.

With social factors being such a significant driver of a person’s overall health, knowing the outcome of these referrals is foundational to providers’ ability to effectively meet their patients’ unique needs and manage whole-person health.

Powered by the Unite Us platform and 211 staff, health providers across the network can securely refer and track every person’s total health journey with their community partners. At the same time, it allows providers to report on all tangible outcomes across a range of services in a centralized, cohesive, and collaborative ecosystem. 211 plays the role of the coordination center in the network, ensuring clients are connected to the best program to address their needs, providers are closing the loop on clients’ needs, and that all providers are meeting network standards and performance measures.

Hurricane Relief Efforts — Florida and Puerto Rico

There are many ways to support those who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian.

FLORIDA RELIEF EFFORTS

As the work continues to assess damage and needs, United Way Worldwide will update funds accordingly on Online.UnitedWay.org and UnitedWWay.org.

Additionally, because of the intense and far-reaching impact of this storm, to support communities in Florida and other areas affected by Hurricane Ian, United Way Worldwide has created the United Way Disaster Response and Recovery Fund.  As part of United Way’s collective mission to build stronger, resilient, and equitable communities, United Ways in affected areas will continue to raise money locally and respond to emerging needs as appropriate for their community.  The national fund will absolutely complement those efforts and provide a single clearinghouse for individual and corporate donors who want to support all affected areas.

This fund will help local United Ways meet immediate storm-related needs and support long-term recovery throughout the affected regions.  It would also allow donors to designate their funds to local United Ways.  We’ll be working with United Way leaders in the affected areas to determine the best distribution plan.

Other Florida Efforts (Shared by Florida Philanthropy Network (FPN))

FPN has compiled an initial repository of resources for foundations and non-profits. You can access all accumulated resources by visiting our resource page – FPN Hurricane Ian Resource Page

PUERTO RICO RELIEF EFFORTS

The Boston Foundation and the Latino Equity Fund has a list of organizations working on the ground in Puerto Rico that you can choose to support.

(Shared by Grantmakers in the Arts and Philatropia Puerto Rico)

Point32Health Grants $500,000 in Community Priority Areas

Point32Health Foundation announced 10 new grants to support priorities identified by communities across New England. The grants improve access to healthy food and advance healthy aging in places where disinvestment, systemic racism, and barriers to access have prevailed.  Grants total $505,000.Grants support both general operations, giving nonprofit organizations flexibility in allocating resources, and ideas generated by nonprofits to address specific community needs. These funds will go to organizations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.  The Rhode Island recipient was RIALA Senior Living Institute, which received a grant to make Rhode Island’s assisted living facilities more welcoming and supportive, especially for older LGBTQIA+ adults.

Citizens Renews Partnership With Feeding America to Fight Hunger

For the fifth consecutive year, Citizens has joined forces with Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, contributing more than $1 million as a Leadership-level partner to further broaden and deepen its efforts to help fight hunger.

The renewed relationship builds on a successful four-year partnership which has brought funding into local markets and seeded Feeding America’s Ending Hunger program. This year’s funding is primarily categorized as equitable access grants, which aim to increase access to nutritious food among households with individuals who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) residing in communities experiencing high food insecurity rates.

In 2021, through the Citizens Helping Citizens Fight Hunger initiative, the bank helped provide 16.3 million meals* via its partnership with Feeding America and other local hunger relief organizations. Citizens colleagues volunteered nearly 90,000 hours to help combat hunger in communities across the bank’s enterprise.

As part of Hunger Action Month, Citizens colleagues will display their commitment to fighting hunger by participating in Citizens’ Step Up to Fight Hunger challenge in which colleagues’ healthy activities and steps are translated into meals to support local communities.

Additionally, throughout the month of September, Citizens will host a virtual food drive supporting Feeding America. Each dollar donated will provide 10 meals in communities served by the bank and Citizens will match each dollar donated up to $20,000.

Get more information about Citizens community initiatives here.

*$1 helps Feeding America provide at least 10 meals through local member food banks.

van Beuren Charitable Foundation and BankNewport Support Housing Study

Two GCRI members have provided funding to Connect Greater Newport, the economic development research arm of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, to analyze the availability of workforce housing for residents in Newport and Bristol counties.

van Beuren Charitable Foundation provided a $71,000 grant and BankNewport provided a $10,000 grant to study the gaps in available housing for the local workforce and develop a plan to predict and address those gaps for the next decade.

According to The Newport Daily News, “The chamber is currently in the data collection phase of the project and recently released a survey on workforce housing to member businesses.

The goal of the survey is to gauge greater Newport County businesses’ plans for their employees in the future, how many people they expect to hire and what they anticipate paying them, to better understand what the needs for housing will be.

‘We’re taking a bit of a different approach than other more traditional annual reports that come out about housing affordability because we’re not just looking at low to moderate income. We’re looking at the workforce housing category, which is considered to be around 80 to 120% of the median income,’ Donovan-Boyle said. ‘We’re looking at mid-level managers, we’re looking at teachers, nurses, even police officers, firemen, all of those types of individuals who fall into that salary range.’

The median annual income for households in Newport County is estimated to be about $84,282, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, which makes the salary range for households identified as ‘workforce housing’ to be between $67,425 and $101,138. 

The survey is just one part of the larger report the chamber is compiling, which it hopes to release by the end of this year. Donovan-Boyle said the chamber is also looking into how zoning laws impact workforce housing availability and trying to assess what housing stock is already available. The chamber plans to release a more official announcement of the project in the coming months.”

Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation Donates $190,000 to RI and CT Organizations

The Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation has awarded $198,850 in funding to 21 organizations throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Rhode Island organizations receiving second quarter grants are:

 

Olneyville Programs Awarded $182,708 in Grants by United Way of Rhode Island

Through its Olneyville Community Fund, United Way of Rhode Island has awarded $182,708 in grants to programs whose work is strengthening the Providence neighborhood it calls home. The investments focus on creating opportunities for all by improving access to services for residents, enhancing educational offerings for children through adults, and increasing nonprofit capacity to meet community need. Eleven organizations received funding.

Grantees include Amenity Aid, Children’s Friend, Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Community Libraries of Providence, FirstWorks, Inspiring Minds, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Project 401, Providence Promise, and Teatro ECAS.

More information

Champlin Foundation Awards $9.6 Million to Nonprofits Statewide

The Champlin Foundation announced more than $9.6 million in capital funding to 87 nonprofit organizations across the state.  Nonprofits receiving funding in this cycle serve Rhode Islanders of all ages across youth services, healthcare, arts and culture, and beyond. Among the recipients are 12 first-time grantees. 

The Champlin Foundation specifically supports capital improvements across nine areas of focus: arts and culture, conservation and parks, education, healthcare, historic preservation and heritage, libraries, social services, youth services, and welfare of animals. Every area is represented in this round of funding. Total giving by the Foundation will be supplemented with a second round of grants in fall 2022. 

The funding includes three $1 million awards, given to the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum, Crossroads Rhode Island, and the Boys and Girls Club of Providence.   It is unusual for Champlin to award three grants of this size in one cycle, but it speaks to both the tremendous need in the nonprofit community and the leadership and commitment of the grantees.  

The Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum is preparing to build a comprehensive, four-building campus on 18 acres of rural University of Rhode Island land in South Kingstown that honors the region’s Indigenous history with a new museum, robust archives, a maker’s space, as well as a building for educational programming. 

In the face of an urgent statewide affordable housing crisis, Champlin awarded a $1 million grant to Crossroads Rhode Island, the leading provider of homeless services. The organization’s main headquarters, which is the epicenter of service and support for the more than 1,100 Rhode Islanders who face housing insecurity on any given day, is in need of significant exterior restoration and repair.  

The third and final $1 million grant in this cycle is going to the Boys and Girls Club of Providence, which plans to renovate and expand its Wanskuck Clubhouse. The branch opened in 1927 and has been providing recreational activities and educational programming to the young people of the city’s North End ever since. The Boys and Girls Club of Providence is also a longstanding grantee, having received the first of what has been an annual grant from The Champlin Foundation in 1958. 

In addition to the three mentioned, grants supporting other transformational projects were awarded to Teatro ECAS, which is building out a larger theater in the Valley Arts District; Save the Bay, which is moving its Newport aquarium to a greatly expanded new Downtown space; Revive the Roots in Smithfield, which is acquiring land and the historic Mowry house; and a grant to CCRI that will completely update the Dental Hygiene program’s equipment at the Lincoln campus.  

 The full list of grantees and their awards is available on the Champlin website