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2016 Annual Report


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dear friends

The Foundation’s 2016 results have positioned us well as we begin our second century.

The celebration of the Foundation’s centennial in 2016 offered us a time to reflect on our past, celebrate in the present, and solidify our position as a stable, proactive community and philanthropic leader for our state.

We received nearly $60 million from generous donors, including the historic Frederick B. Wilcox Endowment Fund gift, and we distributed a record amount in grants to the community, more than $45 million. We are truly appreciative of our donors who make our work possible and our grantees who make it real.

As we embark on our second century we will continue to look to you to challenge us, to invest with us, and to be a part of building, sustaining, and growing a civic-minded, civil, charitable Rhode Island.

Next up: Educational Success


Blended learning has been at the forefront of the Highlander Institute’s work since 2011 and a model the Foundation has supported since 2012.

In 2016, the Foundation supported blended learning – “the strategic integration of teaching, technology, and data to increase personalization, engagement, and mastery of all essential skills for all students” – in Central Falls, Chariho, Providence, and at the Rhode Island Training School.

The Training School is in its first year of implementing blended learning. Highlander is providing in-class supports such as co-teaching and coaching, as well as out-of-class support and continuing professional development. Chariho is in its third year of partnering with Highlander around blended learning, with Chariho’s model educators providing professional development to their peers.

Training School Principal William Cauley says, “Providing worthwhile, relevant instruction will lead to more success for our students.” Indeed, that’s our goal for all Rhode Island students!

Next up: Healthy Lives


An innovative program designed to help pediatric primary care providers meet the needs of children with behavioral health struggles.

Helping pediatric primary care providers meet the needs of their patients with behavioral health issues is the goal of the Pediatric Psychiatry Resource Network (PediPRN). Initiated in December 2016 by Bradley Hospital (a Lifespan partner), the program’s team members answer questions and make referrals to community resources; a psychiatrist may see more complex cases for evaluation and/or treatment.

Rajvi Broker-Sen, MD, director of the PediPRN Clinic, explains, “PediPRN is designed to provide a bridge between pediatric primary care providers and expert mental health care. We’re helping pediatric care providers to feel more empowered, to recognize behavioral health struggles, and to feel comfortable treating mild to moderate behaviors.”

Next up: Economic Security


Rhode Island Foundation brought together a cohort of eight industry networks for an intensive 14-month capacity building program.

“This has been the most helpful professional development opportunity for my staff and me of anything I’ve participated in,” says Wendy Mackie, CEO of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association.

The opportunity was a cohort of eight industry networks the Foundation brought together to strengthen each individual organization’s ability to serve its members and industry and to strengthen the network that exists between the organizations.

Lisa Carnevale, co-founder and executive director of DESIGNxRI, notes, “We often have the same challenges, and I learned a lot about what’s working really well (for other members),” with Molly Donohue Magee, executive director of the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, adding, “None of this would happen without the Foundation coming in and saying, ‘This is important to the state.’”

Next up: Inspiring Philanthropy


We believe that philanthropy – at all levels – is an important indicator of civic engagement.

People give when they feel invested in their local communities, when they feel change is possible, when they feel respected and appreciated, and when they connect themselves directly with what they see happening around them. 

Philanthropist and community leader Liz Chace summed this up beautifully when she established an endowment with us, saying, “I’m doing this because of my love for Rhode Island… (where) I’ve had an incredible life. This is something that forever will give back to Rhode Island.”

We’re working to build a culture of philanthropy in Rhode Island by increasing giving activity and engagement among more Rhode Islanders. More philanthropy in Rhode Island means more innovative programs, critical services, and community-building work will be possible.

Next up: Unrestricted Giving


Unrestricted gifts address Rhode Island’s most pressing needs today and tomorrow.

Unrestricted gifts enable us to focus on the changing needs of the people of Rhode Island. Since 1916, generous, civic-minded Rhode Islanders have placed their trust in the Foundation's knowledge and expertise to determine the course of their philanthropy.

In 2016, we received the historic Frederick B. Wilcox Endowment Fund gift, the largest unrestricted gift in our 100-year-history. Through his insightful planning and his daughter’s prudent stewardship, Frederick Wilcox will be helping to take care of community needs for generations to come.

Unrestricted gifts – large and small – help the Foundation meet the needs of the day. You, too, can help address Rhode Island’s most pressing needs today and tomorrow.

Next up: New fund stories

new fund

We are proud to connect philanthropic Rhode Islanders with the causes and organizations that matter to them.

We are most appreciative of the individuals, nonprofit organizations, and companies that chose to partner with us in 2016 by establishing an endowment at the Foundation. Their generosity will support…

  • organizations ranging from libraries to an art association and from schools to the food bank;
  • causes including scholarships, arts and culture, children, needs of Rhode Island’s African American / Black community, and more; and
  • Rhode Island’s most pressing needs through unrestricted funds.

To learn more, please contact James S. Sanzi, J.D., vice president of development, at (401) 427-4025 or

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