Woonsocket, NRI communities won $2.5 million in grants from RI Foundation last year


Connecting for Children and Families, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and New Beginnings are among the local nonprofits that received funding

 

WOONSOCKET, RI – Woonsocket alone received $1.4 million of the $2.5 million in grants the Rhode Island Foundation made to Blackstone Valley nonprofits in 2022, helping push the organization to the second-best year of grant-making in its 107-year history.

 

The Foundation announced awarding nearly $84 million statewide last year, which trailed only the $87 million awarded in 2020. The Foundation also raised more than $75 million in gifts in 2022.

 

"In addition to our focus on core initiatives, our aid brought relief to people who are coping with hunger, surging housing prices and the behavioral health crisis as they struggle to recover from the pandemic," said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful for our passionate and committed donors and the nonprofit organizations that deliver a wide range of services to our diverse community.”

 

The local groups that won grants include Connecting for Children and Families, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and New Beginnings in Woonsocket; the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry in Cumberland, the Milagros Project in Manville the Burrillville Land Trust and the Austin T. Levy School Parent and Teachers Association in Burrillville.

 

The Woonsocket Health Equity Zone received $250,000 to launch the “Child Friendly Woonsocket” initiative. The work is led by the Health Equity Zone Steering Committee, which is comprised of residents and dozens of local organizations, including Thundermist Health, the Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association and the WATCH (Woonsocket Alliance to Champion Hope) Coalition.

 

“We’re talking about creating and nurturing places where trusting relationships are built on a foundation of mutual respect, where cultural sensitivity and humility exist between residents of all ages, where children and youth live in safe, nurturing homes within families and communities that support healthy development,” said Susan Jacobsen, senior director of health equity initiatives for Thundermist Health.

 

The Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry used its grant to purchase food and supplies. The all-volunteer organization helps about 1,500 people a month through twice-monthly, drive-through food distribution events in the parking lot of its facility on Angell Road.

 

"Our numbers have increased so dramatically over the past two years that we've gone to two distributions a month. The need is so great. Many of our guests come to us twice a month," said Bob Chaput, co-executive director. "The funding comes at crucial time. We're concerned that the first jump in heat and electric bills will push more people over the edge. It would not surprise me if our numbers grow."

 

Many of the grants that the Foundation awarded in 2022 aligned with its three strategic priorities: educational success, healthy lives and economic security. Nonprofits doing work in a wide variety of sectors, such as arts and culture, basic human needs, the environment and housing also received funding.

 

“Working with committed nonprofit partners and key community stakeholders, including elected officials and state officials, our support and leadership help reduce achievement gaps in education, address health disparities across all populations and promote real opportunity for economic security for all Rhode Islanders,” said Steinberg.

 

At the end of 2022, the Foundation had total assets of approximately $1.3 billion, which ranks the organization among the nation’s 20 largest community foundations. In a year when the S&P was down 18.1 percent, the Foundation’s endowment return was only down 10.6 percent, which ranked in the top quartile of foundations and endowments nationwide. The Foundation’s long-term returns are often in the top decile, with a 20-year annualized return of 8.1 percent.

 

The Foundation also continued its grant-making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including partnering with the state to distribute a total allocation of $20 million in federal America Rescue Plan Act funding with $13.9 million having been committed through February.

 

The Foundation launched its second very successful Equity Leadership Initiative class. The leadership development program is designed to build a pipeline of future leaders of color for positions of influence throughout the state. In addition, the Foundation offered $2 million in grants to address structural racism through its new Racial Equity and Social Justice Program.

 

“Correcting the root causes of inequity and addressing disparities are two of our foundational principles, and for years have been central to our work. They are values that are at the core of our decisions about how to allocate discretionary funding and civic leadership resources across all our work,” said Steinberg.

 

In addition to grant-making and fundraising, community leadership is central to the Foundation’s work. In 2022, the Foundation raised $854,761 for its Civic Leadership Fund. This annual fund enables the Foundation to go beyond traditional grant-making to meet emerging opportunities and challenges, and to engage Rhode Islanders in civic and civil dialogue.

 

“Our Civic Leadership initiatives recognize that progress requires flexibility, innovation and the capacity to respond to key issues of the day. It enables us to take on challenges like addressing the housing shortage, supporting the growth of small businesses in communities of color and jump-starting the life sciences sector,” said Steinberg.

 

The announcement comes as Steinberg is about to complete his 15-year tenure at the helm of the Foundation. The Foundation’s board of directors selected David N. Cicilline to succeed him as president and CEO after a thorough national search that included significant community input and generated an impressive pool of diverse candidates. Cicilline will begin his service to the Foundation on June 1.

 

 

House Speaker Mike Johnson is set to make an appearance alongside Donald Trump today at Mar-a-Lago. The two are slated to hold a news focused on election integrity. The former president has repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was rigged against him. The event comes as Johnson faces threats from some conservative Republicans to oust him as speaker if he moves forward with Ukraine funding.       The lead prosecutor in O.J. Simpson's murder trial is reacting the NFL star's death. Marcia Clark told Entertainment Tonight, "I send my condolences to Mr. Simpson's family." Simpson passed away April 10th from cancer. He was famously acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.       Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to Arizona today after the state supreme court upheld a near-total ban on abortions that was put in place 160 years ago. She'll be in Tucson [[ Too-sahn ]] for an event focusing on abortion and the Biden administration's efforts to keep abortion legal. Harris was just in Phoenix last month to show opposition against attempts to limit or restrict abortion.       A new analysis estimates President Biden's new student debt relief plan to cost tax payers around 84-billion dollars. A Penn Wharton Budget Model looks at five parts of Biden's plan to total how much the initiatives would cost. The model shows that the biggest cost would be Biden's proposal to cancel up to 20-thousand dollars for borrowers with balances from unpaid interest.       A Tennessee bill that would criminalize providing transgender care to a minor is moving on to the state House for debate. The measure would criminalize adults who help minors receive gender-affirming care without parental consent would become a felony. The bill was passed by the Senate on Thursday and will be debated in the House which is expected to support the legislation.        A reminder for taxpayers when it comes to charitable deduction rules. The IRS says those who itemize must remember that donations must be to a qualified organization. Other rules include: the donation must have been during the proper tax year, there must be a record of it, and the total deduction cannot be more than 60-percent of your adjusted gross income.