Strategic Initiatives

Economic Security

Economic security for all Rhode Islanders is within reach, if we work together. At the Foundation we believe that all Rhode Island households should be financially stable, and we are working to invest funds and provide resources beyond grantmaking to encourage just that.

Read through the sections below to learn more about the impact we are hoping to make, and the strategies we use to guide this priority area.

The impact model for economic security presents a high-level view of the logic driving our strategic priorities and investments. It serves as an “if-then” summary for impact: IF we invest in targeted strategies and activities THEN we can expect to see interim outcomes and changes for Rhode Island residents and communities, with the expectation that working together with partners and communities we can help achieve long-term impact.

For example, in economic security specifically - IF we invest in workforce development, with a focus on strengthening and increasing programmatic offerings that focus on quality, high need areas, essential and technical skills THEN we can expect to see more skilled workers entering the workforce who are prepared for the jobs that are available, are demonstrating necessary competencies, and have attained credentials. Together with our partners - with this focus, and the others outlined in the impact model - we will begin to see improved household financial stability, increased household wealth, and a reduction in economic disparities.

The activity targets you'll find in the impact model for economic security are benchmarks for our own internal accountability.

And, in terms of the annual targets within the impact model - in some cases the annual targets are quantifiable and large, and others are more difficult to quantify.

Across all three strategy areas (Economic Security, Educational Success, and Healthy Lives) we have highlighted 65% equity targets to serve Rhode Island residents and communities that are traditionally marginalized or underserved.

We support proven programs that demonstrate results and offer expanded wraparound services including workforce preparation, financial literacy, and/or benefit screening and case management, with an emphasis on serving high need populations (i.e. low income job seekers, people of color, and those with the greatest barriers to employment). We also aim to improve the workforce development system, by encouraging and enabling better use of data to evaluate progress and by pursuing improved coordination and navigability within the system.

Example: Year Up supports low-income young adults as they move from poverty to professional careers in a single year. The first half of the year consists of training, skills development, and coursework as a cohort. Students then complete a six-month corporate internship. Year Up started in Boston in 2000 and Providence was the first expansion site. The Providence program has now assisted nearly 2,000 Rhode Island program graduates on their professional journeys.

We invest in a strong and supportive environment that helps enterprising Rhode Islanders start and grow businesses. We work to support the expansion of high quality programs that serve entrepreneurs and small businesses, with a focus on low income entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. We also invest in strengthening the resources, supports, and policy environment in which businesses start and grow.

An example of a grantee doing this work: EforAll has, with our support, expanded its efforts into the state to help under-represented individuals successfully start and grow their businesses through a unique combination of immersive business training, mentorship, and an extensive support network.

We also aim to strengthen the small business ecosystem, the resources, supports, and environment which affect how businesses start and grow. In partnership with Rhode Island Commerce, the Foundation commissioned a study to promote the growth of, and support for, BIPOC businesses in our state. The Rhode Island BIPOC Small Business Ecosystem Assessment, a research project focused on building more inclusive, resilient, and successful entrepreneur ecosystems that provide world-class services and support to the state’s BIPOC business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. This assessment was built on a number of previous initiatives, including RI Commerce’s Rhode Island Innovates 2.0 strategy, and included a review of the latest data on BIPOC business, an assessment of existing business support resources, and a series of recommendations for building more inclusive and diverse ecosystems that can help more local people start and grow new ventures.

At times, we are able to provide catalytic investments in the sectors where growth and innovation is alive and well. Our aim here is to spark broader efforts and investments from other partners. This strategy provides flexibility to identify industry clusters that are constantly evolving given the diversity of the State’s economy and the uniqueness of its communities.

For example: We continue to support DESGNxRI in the implementation of a Sustainable Business Model that will help raise awareness of the design community in RI through marketing and business development for the members and the sector. Our goal is to grow innovation in the state’s economy, as evidenced by increased exports, growth in advanced industries, and demonstrated leverage and external investment.

Explore 2025 impact targets.

Find out more about our Strategic Initiatives Grants program.

Looking to support our Economic Security Initiatives? Invest in the Fund for Rhode Island.