Warwick, Cranston and Johnston benefit from Rhode Island Foundation grants

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The Rhode Island Foundation announced that St. Gregory the Great Church in Warwick, Operation Stand Down in Johnston and the Cranston Public Library are among dozens organizations that will benefit from nearly $225,000 in grants to fund community-building projects across the state. 

The Community Grants program will support creating performance spaces and urban farms to restoring playgrounds and historic parks.

“Initiatives like this would not be possible but for the foresight of those who came before us, the donors who generously invest in our state and the nonprofits that transform those resources into action,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

The Foundation received nearly 130 proposals; 30 received funding. Most of the work is expected to be underway before the end of the year.

“Our grants will create places to gather, build relationships and inspire new collaborations that will strengthen community connections all over Rhode Island,” said Steinberg.

The Cranston Public Library Association received $10,000 to purchase a pop-up library for community events as well as locations such as playgrounds and bus stops that serve children from underserved communities.

“This is all about meeting the public where they are rather than making them come to us. We will bring this pop-up library everywhere there is a lot of foot traffic to surprise people with an opportunity for browsing, reading and interacting with others,” said Ed Garcia, executive director.

The cart will have 12 feet of shelf space and 10 stackable benches to provide seating at events.

“The collection will be composed of books with a strong visual component and content that is easy to sample. It will be largely children's books, because we believe building a community of readers starts with children, and families are an important part of our service population. However, we will have something for everybody so adults can model reading and enjoying books as well,” said Garcia.

Community organizations will be able to request a visit from the pop-up library, especially for special events, as long as the event is free and open to the public. The kiosk will be managed by at least two staff people who can offer read-alouds and other activities for youngsters based on the theme of the event.

Nonprofit organizations from Johnston and Warwick also won grants from the Foundation.

St. Gregory the Great Church in Warwick received $5,000 to help create a community garden that will provide clients of the West Warwick Senior and Community Center with fresh produce for their meal distribution program.

The funding will be go toward  fencing, raised planting beds, loam, tools, seeds and fencing to deter deer and small animals. The church expects to plant its first crops next spring.

“Our vision of our garden is that we will tailor it to the tastes and cultures of the center clientele, providing a taste of home along with nutrition. Once established, we will explore incorporating cooking and other educational efforts,” said Donna Cimini, a member of the planning committee who wrote the grant application along with Marty Davey and Virginia Parker.

Operation Stand Down in Johnston received $5,000 to purchase waterproof, reusable name tags for its annual Memorial Day "Boots on the Ground" tribute to Rhode Island veterans at the Temple to Music in Roger Williams Park.

“The memorial involves placing almost 7,000 boots with flags and name placards to represent all of the American servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives defending our freedom since 9/11,” said Erik Wallin, executive director.

“The tribute transcends all cultural and socioeconomic groups and really brings people together to understand the true meaning of Memorial Day and the true cost of freedom,” he said.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants 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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