Jewish Alliance Raises $250,000 in Ukraine Aid

The Jewish Alliance announced that the Jewish community has raised close to $250,000 to be sent oversees to partners on the frontlines, such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee working in eastern Europe supporting Ukrainians in need.

The money will be used by relief organizations in eastern Europe to purchase humanitarian supplies for Ukrainian refugees, such as food, medications, clothing, and hygiene supplies, as well as housing within Ukraine and within bordering countries. The alliance has a partnership with the Jewish Community Center in Warsaw, Poland, that is currently aiding Ukrainian refugees.

Guest Post — The War in Ukraine Requires a Major Philanthropic Response and Overall Increase in Peace and Security Funding

Originally published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 1, 2022

“The Molotov cocktails are the worst,” says my 99-year-old grandmother, reflecting on the violence erupting in her homeland of Ukraine. She remembers dodging them in the streets of Odessa as she fled invaders eight decades ago. “But,” she sighs during our weekly Skype chat from her home in Germany, “what can we actually do at this point?”

The short answer for everyone, but especially philanthropy, is quite a lot.

First, grant makers must respond to the immediate humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by providing much-needed rapid-response funds to help those on the ground. Millions of people are likely to need shelter, food, water, and medical care. Foundations and individual donors that can give rapid-response grants should connect with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy or their philanthropy colleagues who are in direct touch with Ukrainian grantee partners and who can most effectively channel funds to meet immediate needs.

Grant makers that have not established flexible-funding approaches should take this opportunity to embrace the notion that timely philanthropy is the most effective philanthropy — especially during a crisis.

Pushing Back on Misinformation

Second, philanthropy can play an important role in pushing back on the warmongering, misinformation-driven narrative woven into the conflict itself and the debate surrounding it. Much has been written about Russia’s use of disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, most recently, its characterizations of Ukraine and its government. In both cases, Russian disinformation was amplified by conservative news outlets and politicians in this country, fueling the partisanship that stands in the way of genuine policy debate and consensus building. Such misinformation also feeds narratives that peace, diplomacy, and compromise are weak.

One of the most effective ways grant makers can respond is by supporting independent journalism and analysis that counters these narratives. For example, the 762 Project, which is run by volunteers in Ukraine and elsewhere, has been collecting, analyzing, and posting information about the buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders since last spring. Supporting local news sources in Ukraine, such as the English-language news site the Kyiv Independent, is especially important to ensuring that propaganda from outlets like the Kremlin-funded RT and social-media misinformation campaigns don’t drive decision making about the invasion.

Bolster Peace and Security Funding

Finally, philanthropy must increase its investment in peace and security broadly, and diversify who receives that funding. Without meaning to sound insensitive, this step is more important and more difficult than the short-term response to the war in Ukraine. It is the only way to achieve lasting peace and security in both Ukraine and future conflicts — and to identify and spotlight innovative, peace-focused solutions.

Peace and security funding accounts for just 1 percent of all grant making, which is as lopsided as the funding disparity between the State Department and the Department of Defense. The State Department’s $65 billion budget is 1 percent of the overall federal budget, while the Defense Department’s is 10 times that, or $773 billion. In a recent op-ed about American militarism, Patrick Hiller, director of the War Prevention Initiative at the Jubitz Family Foundation, noted that “diplomacy is the sidekick of the U.S. war machine when it comes to relations with the rest of the world.” Is it any wonder that diplomacy doesn’t have much of a fighting chance?

The 57 members of the Peace and Security Funders Group, which I manage, make up a passionate and strategic bunch, but we struggle to get adequate funding for our issues. Why?

During my 14 years of working in this area, I’ve heard three perennial reasons from grant makers for avoiding peace work:

Peace is a long-term investment, with payout measured in decades, and boards lack the vision and patience to stay the course when there aren’t quick wins to showcase at quarterly meetings.  Peace work can feel too political because many of the issues involve policy or legislation.  It’s difficult to claim credit for avoiding a future nuclear terrorist attack or for preventing a conflict that would have happened absent locally led peace-building efforts.

In reality, hundreds of examples demonstrate how investing in peace building can stop or reduce conflict. And, as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to investments in peace versus war. As for those concerned about crossing too far into direct political involvement or lobbying, there are many options in the advocacy toolbox that both grant makers and nonprofits can deploy to effectively and legally engage in this work.

The peace and security arena is itself at a crossroads. One foundation colleague of mine often jokes that the field is mostly “pale, male, and stale.” Some have called the lack of diversity a national security crisis, and myriad initiatives are pushing for more diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism efforts. For instance, the nonprofit group Organizations in Solidarity “seeks to diversify the fields of peace and security, foreign policy, and national security,” with the goal of making the work more inclusive and equitable.

The field is beginning to grapple with a toxic culture that dismisses new ideas, as well as its role in upholding a white dominant system that favors solutions for only some of the world’s people. This is necessary and long overdue. As philanthropist and financier Frank Giustra observed, “Without peace and security, you can forget about advancing any of the other social issues philanthropy is trying to address. … It’s impossible to implement solutions in issue areas like health, education, and poverty unless you have a peaceful and stable environment to work in.”

The tragic and unnecessary war in Ukraine is unlikely to end anytime soon — and philanthropy has no excuse for sitting on the sidelines. Funds should be directed toward immediate humanitarian needs while also supporting organizations that are charting a more inclusive, equitable, and just path forward. We all need to learn to talk about peace in a way that’s empowering, inspiring, and radically feminist. For those grant makers who aren’t yet in the peace game, this is your chance. We have an opportunity to change history’s trajectory and prevent another devastating war.

50 community organizations receive funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation

$500,000 supports nonprofits in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced 50 community organizations across the region will receive a total of $500,000 in Momentum Fund grants to advance health equity and support community resilience. The organizations serve people disproportionately affected by the pandemic after years of system inequities, especially older people.

The 2021 Momentum Fund grants support organizations that improve nutrition security; make access to transportation more equitable; address social isolation and mental health; deliver reliable and clear COVID-19 information; support caregivers; and advance workforce solutions. The grants were informed by more than 100 conversations with community members.

A total of 10 organizations in each state — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire — will receive unrestricted grants due to the challenges many have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources can be used to address the most urgent community needs.

The Rhode Island grantees are Aldersbridge Communities, Center for Southeast Asians, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Conexion Latina Newport, Grands Flourish, Higher Ground International, Refugee Dream Center, RI Minority Elder Task Force, We Share Hope, and West Bay Community Action Program.

Community Leaders Call for More Investment and Focus on Rhode Island’s Nonprofit Sector

Several community leaders — Mario Bueno of Progreso Latino, Anthony Hubbard of YouthBuild Preparatory Academy, Cortney Nicolato of United Way, and Daniel Schliefer of New Urban Arts — published a commentary piece in the Boston Globe on the importance of investing in the capacity and sustainability of the nonprofit sector.

Rhode Island can no longer overlook, and underfund, its nonprofit sector

Over the last 19 months, Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations have been the heart, hands and feet of Rhode Island’s relief and recovery efforts.  They provided food and shelter to Rhode Islanders in need. Helped underserved communities access testing and vaccines.  Supported children and families with the challenges of distance learning.  Provided physical and behavioral health care.  Helped isolated seniors connect with loved ones and services.  Provided support and training for small businesses and social entrepreneurs.  Trained workers for new jobs.  Uplifted somber days with beautiful music and art.

In some ways, the last year-and-a-half has been a story of unprecedented commitment and heroism. Faced with the confluence of health, economic, and racial justice crises, Rhode Island nonprofits rose to the challenge of skyrocketing need. At great personal and organizational cost, they overcame public health restrictions, inadequate staffing, physical and emotional exhaustion, and fundraising limitations to deliver services in innovative ways. They were a lifeline to thousands of Rhode Islanders during their darkest moments.

In other ways, the commitment and heroism displayed by our state’s nonprofits during the pandemic is completely normal. It is what happens when organizations are driven by mission and collective social benefit.

Every single day, pandemic or not, quiet, essential work is done across Rhode Island by nonprofit organizations.  Skilled, dedicated, compassionate staff work with limited resources to care for our neighbors, empower our children, and build flourishing communities.  Community-based organizations provide the expertise, energy, and innovation to make the state’s vision for strong, equitable, prosperous cities and towns a reality. Every. Single. Day.

And every day, whether in times of crisis or plenty, the state depends on these same nonprofits to make Rhode Island lives and communities better.  Yet, at nearly every turn, this vital sector is under-resourced, stretched thin, and often taken for granted.

Like the steel beams that undergird our bridges, the crucial work of our state’s nonprofits is so integral to the health and well-being of our communities that it can easily be overlooked.  But like our physical infrastructure, our “civic infrastructure” of unheralded nonprofits, collaborative networks, and community-based initiatives cannot continue to carry the weight of our state’s critical needs without comprehensive, long-term investment.

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Guest Post: ABFE Stands in Solidarity with Haitian Asylum Seekers — How Philanthropy Can Respond

From our sister organization, Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE):

ABFE Stands In Solidarity with Haitian Asylum Seekers

How Philanthropy Can Respond

As of Friday 9/24, the migrant camp under Del Rio bridge has been cleared ─ but the conversation around anti-Black immigration to the US has just begun. The inhumane and cruel attacks on Haitian asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border were heart-wrenching to witness ─ sadly illuminating a long history of violent detention and deportation by the United States. ABFE stands in solidarity with Black migrants who are typically left out of the immigration debate and commits to advocating on their behalf within the philanthropic sector.

We condemn the ongoing abusive treatment of the Haitian people and demand a dignified path forward for the thousands of Black immigrants seeking asylum. Mounted border patrol agents aggressively corralling people like cattle or runaway slaves was on public display for the world to see. We are equally concerned with what we are not seeing in mainstream media. Where are the thousands of Haitians now? What are their living conditions? Are they being treated with dignity and respect? There are reports that some are being held in detention centers and prisons, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or be deported. Those that have already been deported to Haiti have been dumped into a country overrun by strife and instability.

Many in this country were encouraged when the Biden administration signed an executive order on advancing racial equity in his first days in office. It states, “ it is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality” [1]. This does not appear to be the case in the area of immigration policy; anti-Black racism is alive and well – one just needs to compare the treatment of Haitians at the border with that of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in this country.

How Philanthropy Can Respond

Thousands more will make arduous treks to the U.S. border. Immediate strategies to address real-time humanitarian crises as well as long-term solutions for welcoming asylum seekers into U.S. society are needed.

  • Disinvestment – Foundations can look internally to see where their investments lie. There is a growing disinvestment movement – similar to the South African Apartheid disinvestment – focused on the Immigration Industrial complex. Similarly, the current Prison Industrial Complex disinvestment movement is focusing on immigration camps and detention centers.[2]
  • Invest in the Caribbean – If we care about Black lives in the US, we must care about Black lives in the Caribbean including Haiti. Why? The majority of Black immigrants in the U.S. migrate from this region and these families retain strong economic ties to one another. We urge international funders to focus on the issues and development of the Caribbean.
  • Support Organizations focused on Black immigrants (from the Caribbean, Africa, Afro-Latinos from South American countries) – The focus has been on Latinx migrants which means many of the services provided for migrants and asylum seekers are Spanish-language based.

ABFE recommends supporting the following organization:

United Way Invests $175,000 in Olneyville

United Way of Rhode Island has awarded a total of $175,029 in grants to 12 nonprofits for their work to create long-term change in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence where United Way is located. The community investments were awarded from United Way’s special Olneyville Fund and focus on supporting the Lift United goals of its LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan to create opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

A full list of grantee organizations is as follows:

  • Amenity Aid
  • Button Hole
  • Children’s Friend and Service
  • Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic
  • Farm Fresh RI
  • FirstWorks
  • Girls Rock! RI
  • Inspiring Minds
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Olneyville Branch: Providence Community Library
  • Reach Out and Read RI
  • YWCA Rhode Island

United Way established the Olneyville Community Fund in 2008 when it relocated to the neighborhood from the city’s East Side. Since, it has used the fund to invest more than $1.2 million to improve services for residents, increase the capacity of community-based organizations, and enhance public spaces.

Nonprofits Receive Nearly $450,000 to Help Rhode Islanders Cope with Continuing Effects of COVID-19 Crisis

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $450,000 in grants to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the COVID-19 crisis. With these latest grants, the Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in pandemic relief since March 2020.

Grant recipients were:

  • Beautiful Day
  • Be the Change
  • Be Great For Nate
  • Cambodian Society of Rhode Island
  • Centro de Innovacion Mujer Latina
  • College Visions
  • Hope & Main
  • John Hope Settlement House
  • Justice Assistance
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success
  • Oasis International
  • Pawtucket Central Falls Development Corp.
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts
  • Rhode Island Rescue Ministeries
  • RiverzEdge Arts Project
  • Saint Rose’s Church Corporation
  • Southside Community Land Trust
  • Stages of Freedom
  • Sophia Academy
  • South County Habitat for Humanity
  • The Herren Project
  • The Parent Support Network of Rhode Island
  • The Providence Center
  • The Samaritans of Rhode Island
  • The San Miguel School
  • The Village Common

With this round of funding, Foundation has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants to more than 150 nonprofit organizations since launching its COVID-19 Response Fund last year.

Safe Haven for Afghans and Haitians in Crisis — Guest Post from GCIR

In light of the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, we are sharing the following post from our sister organization, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR):

Safe Haven for Afghans and Haitians in Crisis

We at GCIR are heartbroken about the devastating crises unfolding in Afghanistan and Haiti. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the collapse of the Afghan government, and the Taliban’s takeover, many Afghans are fleeing for their lives. Meanwhile, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that recently struck Haiti heightens the urgency of Haitians seeking refuge at the southern U.S. border and the need for Haitians currently residing here to remain. As large numbers of people are being uprooted from their homes, we believe the United States can and must lead the world in protecting these refugees and offering humanitarian assistance.

In response to the events in Afghanistan, an immediate, large-scale evacuation effort and a significantly increased U.S. refugee admissions cap are imperative. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans are at risk in the wake of the Taliban takeover, tens of thousands of whom are in danger due to their association with the U.S. mission. Only 16,000 Afghans have been given protection in the United States since 2014 through the Special Immigrant Visa program, and an estimated 18,000 Afghan allies and 53,000 family members remain in the processing backlog. As the Taliban consolidates power in the coming days and weeks, the window for taking action is rapidly closing.

Haiti’s recent earthquake left at least 1,419 people dead and more than 6,900 injured, a toll that is expected to rise in the coming days. This disaster, coming on the heels of accelerating political turmoil in Haiti, makes it all the more important that Haitians already in the United States are not compelled to return to a perilous situation and that those who have fled to safety have access to asylum and humane treatment when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Although the Biden administration extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to additional Haitians in May, it is also crucial to halt deportations for Haitians present in the United States today and for Congress to establish a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders and others.

We urge philanthropy to:

Beyond these current crises, the U.S. refugee resettlement system is in great need of rebuilding and strengthening. The administration is on track to admit fewer than 10,000 refugees this fiscal year–the lowest number since 1975 and well below the cap–and has merely resettled 6,200 refugees as of the end of last month. If the administration does not ramp up the pace of processing applications in the pipeline, fewer than the previous low of 11,814 refugees set under the Trump administration will enter the United States.

We at GCIR know our country can rise to our highest ideals by providing protection to those who most desperately need it and welcoming them into our communities, and we believe philanthropy has a critical role to play in helping our nation achieve that vision.

More information on Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

Final $380,000 in Vax Challenge Grants Provided to RI Nonprofits

Nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis have been awarded another $380,000 in grants in the final phases of the RI Gives Vax Challenge. The funding was triggered as a result of the more than 25,000 Rhode Islanders who got vaccinated since the program was launched in July. More than 81 percent of adult Rhode Islanders are now at least partially vaccinated

The RI Gives Vax Challenge encouraged Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by awarding grants to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery every time another 5,000 people were vaccinated. As a result of hitting the 20,000- and 25,000-vaccination milestones, another 38 nonprofits from across Rhode Island received $10,000 grants in the final phases of the initiative.

With the final rounds of grants, the Foundation has awarded $750,000 to 75 organizations in partnership with Gov. McKee, the Rhode Island Commerce Department and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The RI Gives Vax challenge supports public health initiatives, bolstering the steadfast work of Rhode Island nonprofits and securing stable footing as the state moves into the next phase of pandemic recovery and response.

The other recipients of the Round 4 and Round 5 grants are Amenity Aid, Capital City Community Centers, Central Falls Family Self Sufficiency Foundation, Clothes to Kids RI, Foster Forward, Hope’s Harvest RI, Interfaith Counseling Center, Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, Lucy’s Hearth, McAuley Ministries, New Beginnings, Operation Stand Down, Progreso Latino, Providence Rescue Mission, Rhode Island for Community & Justice, We Share Hope, Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education, Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, Bridgemark, CartwheelRI, Centro de Innovacion Mujer Latina,  Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Good Neighbors, Housing Hotline, Inspiring Minds, Mentor Rhode Island, Open Doors, New Urban Arts, Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust, Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need, Silver Lake Community Center,  St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, West End Community Center, West Warwick Senior Center. 

15 More Nonprofits Receive RI Gives Vax Challenge Grants

Fifteen nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis received $150,000 in grants in the latest round of the RI Gives Vax Challenge. This third round of funding recognized the milestone that more than 15,000 people have now gotten their first dose of the vaccine since the program was launched on July 6. Nearly 80 percent of adult Rhode Islanders are now at least partially vaccinated.

The Vax Challenge encourages Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by awarding grants to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery every time another 5,000 people get vaccinated. As a result of reaching the 15,000-vaccination mark, another 15 nonprofits from across Rhode Island received $10,000 grants.

The recipients of the third round of grants are Better Lives Rhode Island, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Conexion Latina Newport, DaVinci Center for Community Progress, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, East Bay Food Pantry, Higher Ground International, Housing Network of Rhode Island, Man Up, Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Newport Community School, Oasis International, Project Undercover, Rhode Island Center for Justice, Rhode Island Chapter, American Red Cross.

An additional two rounds of grants totaling $380,000 could be awarded each time Rhode Island administers an additional 5,000 first COVID-19 vaccine doses as reported by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

For the next 5,000 new vaccinations, $180,000 will be awarded to 18 nonprofits; $200,000 will be distributed to 20 nonprofits in the fifth and final round when an additional 5,000 people are vaccinated.

Jointly established by Governor McKee, Commerce Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Foundation, the RI Gives Vax Challenge has now awarded $370,000 in grants to 37 nonprofits through the first three rounds.

Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island