Cranston nonprofits win $1.5m in grants from RI Foundation

Posted 3/15/23

The Rhode Island Foundation awarded $1.5 million in grants to Cranston nonprofits in 2022, helping push the organization to the second-best year of grant-making in its 107-year history.

The nearly …

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Cranston nonprofits win $1.5m in grants from RI Foundation


The Rhode Island Foundation awarded $1.5 million in grants to Cranston nonprofits in 2022, helping push the organization to the second-best year of grant-making in its 107-year history.

The nearly $84 million in funding awarded by the Foundation statewide last year trailed only the $87 million awarded in 2020. The Foundation also raised more than $75 million in gifts in 2022

"In addition to our focus on core initiatives, our aid brought relief to people who are coping with hunger, surging housing prices and the behavioral health crisis as they struggle to recover from the pandemic," said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful for our passionate and committed donors and the nonprofit organizations that deliver a wide range of services to our diverse community.”

Cranston Cares, which received $5,000 for improvements to Meshanicut Lake Park; Comprehensive Community Action, which received $10,000 to support its Humans of Cranston initiative; and the OneCranston Health Equity Zone are among the local nonprofits that received funding.

The OneCranston Health Equity Zone used its grant to launch a family support center to improve the behavioral health of Cranston children and adolescents. As the health equity zone’s “backbone agency,” the Comprehensive Community Action Program will facilitate the work.

Located across from Bain Middle School, the center will provide a wide range of resources and services, including evidence-based parenting education and support, which will offer tools for building a foundation for emotionally healthy children and adolescents, and their families. The center is an intervention that builds on OneCranston Health Equity Zone's priorities around youth opportunity and community trauma.

“The goal is to promote responsive, strength-based parenting and reduce the incidence and impacts of adverse childhood experiences that often accompany family challenges such as mental health, domestic violence, substance use and instability, all of which have been worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sarah Cote, director of the health equity zone initiative. “This builds on our priorities around youth opportunity and community trauma.”

Many of the grants that the Foundation awarded in 2022 aligned with its three strategic priorities: educational success, healthy lives and economic security. Nonprofits doing work in a wide variety of sectors, such as arts and culture, basic human needs, the environment and housing also received funding.

“Working with committed nonprofit partners and key community stakeholders, including elected officials and state officials, our support and leadership help reduce achievement gaps in education, address health disparities across all populations and promote real opportunity for economic security for all Rhode Islanders,” said Steinberg.

At the end of 2022, the Foundation had total assets of approximately $1.3 billion, which ranks the organization among the nation’s 20 largest community foundations. In a year when the S&P was down 18.1 percent, the Foundation’s endowment return was only down 10.6 percent, which ranked in the top quartile of foundations and endowments nationwide. The Foundation’s long-term returns are often in the top decile, with a 20-year annualized return of 8.1 percent.

The Foundation also continued its grant-making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including partnering with the state to distribute a total allocation of $20 million in federal America Rescue Plan Act funding with $13.9 million having been committed through February.

The Foundation launched its second very successful Equity Leadership Initiative class. The leadership development program is designed to build a pipeline of future leaders of color for positions of influence throughout the state. In addition, the Foundation offered $2 million in grants to address structural racism through its new Racial Equity and Social Justice Program.

“Correcting the root causes of inequity and addressing disparities are two of our foundational principles, and for years have been central to our work. They are values that are at the core of our decisions about how to allocate discretionary funding and civic leadership resources across all our work,” said Steinberg.

In addition to grant-making and fundraising, community leadership is central to the Foundation’s work. In 2022, the Foundation raised $854,761 for its Civic Leadership Fund. This annual fund enables the Foundation to go beyond traditional grant-making to meet emerging opportunities and challenges, and to engage Rhode Islanders in civic and civil dialogue.

“Our Civic Leadership initiatives recognize that progress requires flexibility, innovation and the capacity to respond to key issues of the day. It enables us to take on challenges like addressing the housing shortage, supporting the growth of small businesses in communities of color and jump-starting the life sciences sector,” said Steinberg.

The announcement comes as Steinberg is about to complete his 15-year tenure at the helm of the Foundation. The Foundation’s board of directors selected David N. Cicilline to succeed him as president and CEO after a thorough national search that included significant community input and generated an impressive pool of diverse candidates. Cicilline will begin his service to the Foundation on June 1.

Foundation, nonprofits, grants


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