Making a Difference Through Giving

Nonprofit groups from Bristol to Woonsocket received more than $31 million in grants from the Rhode Island Foundation last year, the most in the organization’s 98-year history. More than 1,300 organizations received funding.

As the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofits in the state, the Foundation works in partnership with donors and organizations to meet the needs of the people of Rhode Island.

The Foundation also had its third-best fundraising year ever last year, raising $43.7 million in new gifts from individual, organizational and corporate donors, up from $38.5 million in 2012. At the end of 2013, the total assets stood at more than $780 million.

Of the more than $31 million in awards, nearly $11.4 million were discretionary grants directed by the Foundation’s staff and directors, including:

  • $325,000 awarded to the Highlander Charter School for its Center for Blended Learning initiative
  • $200,000 for services to persons who are blind
  • $75,000 to develop and implement outreach activities for the Rhode Island Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan, which will address the threats of erosion and flooding caused by storm events and sea level changes
  • $351,000 to food banks, homeless shelters and free clinics to provide needy Rhode Islanders with basic human needs.

Donor-directed grants totaled $19.7million last year, up from $17.3 million in 2012.

“We are grateful to our dedicated donors for joining with us to take on the state’s challenges and opportunities,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Their inspiring generosity enabled us to invest in Rhode Island as never before.”

In addition to grantmaking and fundraising, community leadership is central to the Foundation’s activities and business. In 2013, the Foundation raised $264,089 in the second year of its annual Civic Leadership Fund, which enables the Foundation to go beyond traditional grantmaking to provide leadership and a forum for dialogue on critical community issues.


The fund supported the Foundation’s Make It Happen RI initiative, which had several major achievements last year. The Foundation announced the last of $1 million in grants to jumpstart 19 economic development initiatives, launched the positive “It’s All In Our Backyard” public awareness campaign and convened a series of focus groups to develop a new economic action agenda for state policymakers.

“Make It Happen continues to move forward on its goal of creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy. It has sparked collaborations in digital design, manufacturing and health sciences that already are producing results,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s vice president of strategy and community investments.

Under its competitive strategy grant program, the Foundation invests in organizations and programs that strive for long-term solutions to significant community issues. In 2013, nearly $5.6 million was awarded to nearly 100 Rhode Island nonprofits.

Strategy grants fell into six sectors: arts and culture, community development, education, environment, health, and human services. Additionally, the Foundation supported signature initiatives in two areas it believes are critical to the state’s economic wellbeing: public education and primary health care.

“We are proud to support the work nonprofits do tackling the crucial issues confronting our state. Through strategicinvestments in their activities, we are working together to improve the lives of Rhode Islanders,” said David.


By Chris Barnett

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