Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) announced the 13 community partners for its tenth annual day of service this fall to support the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders.
Since the day’s inception, BCBSRI employees have signed up to provide support for tasks at 118 service day projects, including curating outdoor spaces, packaging footwear for children impacted by homelessness, building affordable and safe homes, creating meal kits for distribution by local food banks and conducting impactful projects virtually.
In addition to volunteer support, project sites will receive a financial contribution of $5,000 from BCBSRI to support their work. Since the inaugural Blue across Rhode Island in 2012, employees have provided more than 30,000 volunteer hours and the company has donated more than $605,000 in funding to nearly 70 agencies around the state.
Recognized nationally as a “Best in Class” volunteer initiative, Blue across Rhode Island has become not only a signature event for BCBSRI employees, but also an invaluable resource for the organizations and those involved – making a lasting impact on the lives of more than 133,000 people throughout the state.
The local organizations selected for Blue across Rhode Island 2021 and the projects BCBSRI employees will work on include 134 Collaborative, Amenity Aid, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Rhode Island, Children’s Friend, Gotta Have Sole Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence, South County Habitat for Humanity, Happy Hope Foundation, Hope Alzheimer’s Center, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, Partnership for Providence Parks, Recs & Streetscapes, Playworks New England, Riverzedge Arts.
BankNewport has distributed $212,000 in grants focused on food insecurity, health services, education and skills training, and underserved populations, in support of nonprofits that had their operations and outreach impacted by the pandemic. Among the notable awards is a $100,000 grant to the Newport County YMCA for its Building Campaign.
The grant recipients are Comprehensive Community Action Program, East Bay Food Pantry, Newport Hospital Foundation’s Expansion of the Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center, Inspiring Minds, Providence Public Library, RI Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School, San Miguel School, Star Kids Scholarship Program, Newport County YMCA Building Campaign, Big Brothers Big Sisters RI, College Visions, Jonnycake Center for Hope, St. Vincent DePaul Society, St. Joseph, Newport, Visiting Nurse Home & Hospice, VNA of Care New England and Project Goal.
Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced 16 new grants to support collaborative initiatives helping communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island be great places to grow up and grow old.
The grants, totaling $1.95 million, aim to increase access to healthy food, housing, technology, and other supports. They invest in community-led efforts to promote systems change and encourage collaboration.
HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University was awarded a two-year, $120,000 grant to develop a comprehensive, 10-year strategy to address housing needs and challenges for older adults across Rhode Island as part of the Collaboration ad Community Engagement grant program.
Citizens Bank announced $150,000 in grants to Rhode Island nonprofits through the Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money program, to facilitate financial education programs across the state. Grantees include Connecting for Children and Families, Pawtucket Central Falls Development, Progreso Latino, and Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Citizens also announced a partnership with Girls Who Code to help 10th, 11th, and 12th grade girls learn computer science skills to make an impact in their community while learning more about careers in technology. The bank will sponsor the organization’s Summer Immersion Program (SIP), a free two-week virtual program where participants will learn to code in a supportive environment, gaining critical leadership skills.
The SIP virtual program will serve as many as 6,000 students around the world. It is open to rising sophomore, junior, and senior girls and no prior computer science experience is required. The organization will also release a self-paced program alongside the traditional virtual model—breaking down barriers for highest-need students to participate asynchronously with support from Girls Who Code teachers and coaches. In eight years, Girls Who Code has reached more than 500 million people globally and 300,000 girls through in-person programming, and is on track to achieve gender parity in computer science by 2027.
SIP is free and need-based stipends of up to $300 are available to those who qualify, in order to provide assistance in lieu of paid opportunities such as a summer job or a paid internship. Current 9th -11th-grade girls and non-binary students are eligible to apply. For the second year in a row, Girls Who Code will run their SIP virtually, citing significant gains achieved when it first ran online in 2020 in response to COVID-19. Students across the U.S. can apply online at www.girlswhocode.com/sipapply. Check out the Girls Who Code SIP Flyer or join a webinar to learn more.
This partnership is part of the commitment Citizens announced last summer that includes providing grants and charitable support for immediate and longer-term initiatives aimed at supporting underserved communities through technology, education and digital literacy initiatives. It also includes more than $500 million in incremental financing and capital for small businesses, housing, and other development in predominately minority communities. More information on Citizens commitment to social equity can be found here.
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 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.
Investments focus on engaging older people in solutions
As part of new funding totaling $1.325 million across four New England states, Tufts Health Plan Foundation has awarded $300,000 to two Rhode Island organizations to advance policies and practices that support healthy aging. The new grants engage older people in systems-level change to remove barriers responsible for inequities in communities across the region.
The Policy and Advocacy grants were awarded to the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island, and University of Rhode Island’s Foundation and Feinstein Center for a Hunger-Free America.
The Foundation has announced more than $7 million to support community organizations this year, including $3.4 million for pandemic response and advancing racial justice.
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.
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.