Champlin grants leaves Cranston better off for '18


The Cranston YMCA is now going to be able to fix their roof and replace hot water heaters and boilers. The Scandinavian Home’s going to get a “much-needed” new fire alarm system. The Southside Community Land Trust farm is going to get a brand new greenhouse. And the Cranston Public Library will be adding new mobile device charging stations to their Central Library and four more of their branches.

The Champlin Foundations is the reason why.

Champlin Foundations grants, which Executive Director Keith H. Lang said are “a primary source of capital funding in the state,” focus on brick and mortar improvements to organizations around the state.

Since 1931, the Foundations have awarded more than $569 million across Rhode Island. This year, they awarded $18.1 million in grants to 175 non-profit institutions.

The grants, Lang said, are categorized as driving advancement in healthcare, education, workforce development, social and youth services, historic preservation and the arts.

Many Cranston organizations fit the bill this year and a total of $542,615 was awarded to seven of the Cranston organizations that applied for grants.

$91,940 was awarded to the Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) to fund a brand new greenhouse and to help make improvements/repairs to the main barn, pole barn, and storage facilities at the Urban Edge Farm located near the landfill. Outreach manager for SCLT, Jenny Boone, said this was the largest grant they’ve received from Champlin in recent years.

In addition, $25,000 in Champlin grants will pay for scholarships for the Rhode Island Bar Foundation, $11,750 was given to Big Brothers Big Sisters for employee safety needs, and $11,200 went to the Hope Alzheimer’s Center for new furniture.

To round out the donations, the Cranston YMCA, the Cranston Public Library, and the Scandinavian Home were funded a total of $402,725.

The Y

The recipient of largest donation was the Cranston branch of the YMCA of Greater Providence, which was given $296,325. Chief Transformation Officer Abby Swienton said that they applied for funds to fix an ailing roof and replace the hot water heaters and boilers in the Cranston building located on Park Avenue.

She also said that although the YMCA of Greater Providence has been receiving Champlin grants for many years, this is one of the largest grants the Y has received and they’ll be using the nearly $300K to make those infrastructure improvements as soon as possible.

“We are extremely grateful to the Champlin Foundations for their support with infrastructure needs at YMCA of Greater Providence locations,” CEO Steve O’Donnell wrote in an email.

Swienton added over the phone that the Foundation has given “tremendous support” to the Y. This particular donation certainly helps, as the building, and its members, will benefit from new roofs, new hot water heaters for the cold winter months the area is currently enduring, and new boilers.

Scandinavian Home

The Scandinavian Home was also feeling appreciative for the $52,000 they were awarded for the replacement of a fire alarm system.

Executive Director Ed Herrman said that Champlin has been very helpful over recent years, paying to replace two boilers and a 35 year-old roof three years ago, which was the last time they had a grant approved from Champlin.

“They’re things that we’d be totally unable to fund and in today’s environment not having this type of grant money would lead to crisis,” Herrman said. “It’s critical, top-notch critical. Without them we just would be unable to move forward.”

He added that the home isn’t reimbursed in structural funding through Medicaid, so there’s really no other ways they could make these infrastructure repairs other than grant-funding.

Keri McGuinness, who works as the Nursing Home Administrator for the building, said that this grant is especially important because the fire alarm system is old and had problems, so it’s a “great upgrade for the building.” She also pointed out “problems” with the Medicaid system that don’t allow for payment of the infrastructure needs – especially not in a timely manner – that are key to keeping a building like the Scandinavian Home up and running for its residents.

Cranston Public Library

Meanwhile, library-goers across Cranston will no longer have to bring their own phone chargers to the library because Champlin funds will be used for new mobile charging stations at the central library location and four others – including Auburn, Oaklawn, William Hall, and Knightsville.

The library was awarded a total of $54,400 from the Foundation.

$15,000 of the total will be used for a microfilm digitization project, according to Julie Holden, the Assistant Director of Cranston Public Libraries. She said that the library has 105 rolls of microfilm with newspaper articles from as far back as 1885. Those newspapers include the Cranston City Times, the Cranston Leader and the Cranston Herald, and the money will be used to transfer the rolls of microfilm into digital form and get them into the library archives.

$35,000 will be used to finish basement renovations at the Knightsville branch on Cranston Street, which Holden said is deteriorating. The money will be used to replace the ceiling, put in new ceiling lights, and paint the walls.

The rest of the grant will be used for the charging stations – two at the central location and one at each of the other four locations. Holden said that people would come into the library and leave their phones on chargers throughout the library at their own risk, so these charging stations provide a centralized location for mobile devices to be charged while they peruse the library.

“We’re forever grateful for the Champlin Foundations,” Holden said. “Without Champlin, we wouldn’t be able to do many of the extra things, like renovations, new services, or new technology. The city budget only goes so far, and that money’s used for operational costs. We would have to find grant sources elsewhere, so we love Champlin.”


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