Rhode Island Foundation Honors Five Nonprofits for Outstanding Work

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence (INE) has honored five nonprofit organizations with its 2014 Best Practice Awards for work ranging from helping low-income household open bank accounts to preventing domestic violence.

“These organizations emerged from a highly competitive process and an impressive group of nominees. There is something valuable in each of their remarkable examples that can help every nonprofit achieve more,” said Jill Pfitzenmayer, INE’s vice president.

Every organization will receive an unrestricted grant of $1,000 and tuition waivers for up to two board or staff members to any INE professional development workshop or seminar in the next 12 months.

Sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BSBSRI), the award program recognizes outstanding practices by Rhode Island nonprofit organizations in the areas of advocacy, communication, innovation, leadership development and collaboration.

“BCBSRI is committed to strengthening and celebrating Rhode Islanders’ health and wellbeing, and having a robust network of leading community organizations is critical,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president & CEO of BCBSRI. “We can all learn from the examples of excellence set by today’s honorees, and BCSBRI is proud to help share their stories.”

The Capital Good Fund (CGF) received the Innovation Award for creative approaches that strongly incentivized savings while making it easier to open an affordable bank account and have a tax refund direct deposited into it.

“Everyone, from policymakers to regulators to civic groups and nonprofits, recognizes the importance of having a checking and saving account. The problem, however, is that millions of Americans remain unbanked,” said Andy Posner, CGF’s founder and executive director. “Our innovation addresses one of the key reasons for this: the inconvenience of opening an account. Instead, community members are able to open an account at our office while filing their taxes or receiving one of our other services. Using this model, we opened more than a dozen checking and savings accounts and empowered taxpayers to save $51,000.”

ecoRI News won the Collaboration Award for its EcoRI Earth program, which diverts waste from the state’s Central Landfill by collecting food scraps from 80 customers in the Greater Providence area and distributing them to urban farms for composting.

“We are so pleased to be recognized for our collaborative efforts, which were key to the successful launch of ecoRI Earth. As a relatively young nonprofit, collaboration with other more established organizations has proven to be extremely valuable to the growth of our organization,” said Joanna Detz, ecoRI’s executive director.

The Providence Children’s Museum received the Leadership Award for increasing operational efficiencies by defining strong strategic priorities, restructuring staff and adding expertise to create a strong executive team.

“With increased capacity and clear priorities, we are achieving major goals and have greatly enhanced our offerings and deepened our impact in the community,” said Janice O’Donnell, the Children’s Museum’s executive director.

The Providence Student Union (PSU) won the Advocacy Award for its public policy advocacy effort to increase the number of students who qualify for free bus service to and from school.

“We’re very honored to receive the Rhode Island Foundation’s Best Practices in Advocacy award. PSU’s youth leaders worked very hard to engage fellow students, build partnerships, and increase public demand for a successful change to Providence’s transportation policy. Now, up to 1,800 additional Providence high school students will be able to access school,” said Roselin Trinidad, student leader, Providence Student Union.

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence received the Communications Award for the “KNOW MORE” public education campaign, which used traditional and new media strategies to target specialized populations including men, youth and the Latino community.

“We are excited to receive this recognition; raising public awareness about domestic violence, with a focus on changing social attitudes and engaging the community is a critical part of our mission and we know that this award will help us continue this work. My staff has done a remarkable job incorporating innovative and contemporary strategies in our Communications Plan, and we know that this work is going to have a difference in making Rhode Island a better and safer community,” said Deb DeBare, the Coalition’s executive director.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.com and follow it on Twitter @BCBSRI.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’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 Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org.

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