Four New Projects Receive $172,000 in Support from Foundation’s Make It Happen RI

PROVIDENCE, RI – Four new projects stemming from the economic development convening Make It Happen RI have been awarded a total of $172,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation. Make It Happen RI, supported through the Foundation’s Civic Leadership Fund, brought together more than 300 private sector and community leaders in September 2012 to brainstorm ways to jumpstart the state economy.

One month later, the Foundation released a progress report identifying six major themes that emerged from the working sessions: create jobs, close skills gaps, better connect the unemployed with existing job opportunities, address specific barriers to success, collaborate, and promote Rhode Island internally and externally.

The Foundation also announced a commitment of $1 million above its regular grantmaking to fund ideas and projects stemming from Make It Happen. In March 2013, the Foundation announced twelve projects that received $630,000 in funding.

Since then, four additional projects have received Make It Happen RI support:

  •  Department of Environmental Management: Lean Government Initiative

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is expanding and implementing systems developed under its lean government process to enhance customer service by simplifying regulatory and permitting processes for companies doing business or investing in Rhode Island. Led by Rhode Island DEM director Janet Coit, this project received $47,000.

  •  Digital City: Creating a Rhode Island Digital Media Industry

This initiative aims to create a critical mass of Rhode Island-based companies and digital media literate workers to enable the state to be internationally recognized for digital media design and production. The project plans to formalize a digital media membership organization, a communal digital media design and production center, and a digital media education center. Led by Gary Glassman of Providence Pictures and Renee Hobbs of the Harrington School of Communications and Media at the University of Rhode Island, this project is receiving $50,000.

  •  Downtown Office Marketing Campaign

This initiative will launch a marketing campaign to introduce and position downtown Providence as an ideal urban/downtown location for start-up entrepreneurs and firms based outside Rhode Island. The campaign received $25,000 in funding from the Rhode Island Foundation to help fill downtown Providence’s supply of Class B office space. The Providence Foundation and the Downtown Improvement District are working with NAIL, a creative agency located in downtown Providence, on this effort.

  •  Práctico Innovation

This project will launch a competition to encourage Rhode Islanders of Hispanic, Black, and Asian backgrounds to create 21st century products and services that address specific challenges of their communities. Led by Kipp Bradford, Walter Callender, and Don Stanford, this project is supported with $50,000.

“We are encouraged by the continued momentum from Make It Happen RI and pleased to support four projects that are committed to making a positive impact across many communities in our state,” said Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Inspiring people to step up with creativity, ownership, action, and optimism is what Make It Happen RI was all about.”

The Civic Leadership Fund is a field of interest fund at The Rhode Island Foundation to help create real, substantive, and positive change in Rhode Island. Launched in 2012, the fund allows the Foundation to go beyond traditional grantmaking to serve as a leader for critical or emerging issues in the state. Activities supported by the fund include commissioning research, convening interested parties, advocating for changes in public policy, and bringing nationally known speakers to Rhode Island. Learn more at

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2012, the Foundation made grants of more than $30.4 million to organizations addressing Rhode Island’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising, and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping our state reach its true potential. For more information, visit

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