Celebrate Inspiring Philanthropy

Our annual meeting was inspiring. Where else but in Our Backyard would hundreds of business leaders, donors, grant recipients and community leaders gather in one place to celebrate a state teeming with philanthropy?

Our goal, our aspiration is to be nimble, innovative, collaborative and solution- and impact-driven. Let me assure you, we do not underestimate the many challenges we all face, but we embrace them. We are inspired to strive for long-term systemic change, while not ignoring the need for urgency in our community and the need to break down the status quo. But we cannot do it alone.

Now in our 98th year of philanthropy, we believe that change is a journey, not a destination. But it is good to pause to celebrate milestones. Last year, a wide variety of generous donors contributed $43.7 million. In fact, three of our best years ever have come since 2008.

We awarded a record $31 million in grants to empower more than 1,300 nonprofit organizations to innovate, serve and produce. We achieved an investment return of 17.7 percent, and our assets stand at close to $800 million.

While we are proud of these results, proud to be one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country, we humbly recognize that we need to do more, that the community needs us to do more, that it truly is our obligation and responsibility to do more.

Inspiration is everywhere. We are inspired by our donors. Without exception they are amazing people with great vision and enormous dedication. They believe in their responsibility to the community. They dig deep and act on their values. When you work with people like this every day, it is impossible not to be inspired.

We are inspired by the rich diversity of our community and our cultural strengths. Rhode Island’s demographics make this a very special place to live and work.

We are inspired by those community partners who educate our children and develop innovative ways to improve educational outcomes at scale.

We are inspired by those who provide affordable and accessible health care, while testing new ways to deliver primary care within a changing system.

We are inspired by the many individuals and organizations that champion Rhode Island’s world class arts and culture community.

We are inspired by those working diligently to preserve our quality of life on the land, in the air, and on the water, and to address the challenge of resiliency in the face of climate change.

We are inspired by the hard and dedicated work of our many partners providing services to children and families and ensuring an adequate safety net for those most in need.

We are inspired by the quest to end chronic homelessness and provide shelter and affordable housing to all.

We are inspired by the wonderful boots-on-the-ground work that our nonprofit partners do. They are constantly striving for excellence.

Lastly, we are inspired by all those who express optimism when times are tough, confidence when there is doubt and commitment to action when challenges arise. If the Foundation can be of any assistance in your personal or corporate philanthropy, please contact us at (401) 274-4564 or visit rifoundation.org. Working together, we will find a way to just do it.


Neil Steinberg is President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.

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