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Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island Grants

The application for this program is currently closed

The Foundation welcomes proposals to retain a racially, culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse health workforce. Click here to apply by November 4, 2022.

The Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island (FHRI) was created in February 2008 when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island contributed $20 million to create a permanent endowment at the Rhode Island Foundation to support “projects designed to have the greatest impact on the provision of quality and affordable healthcare services in Rhode Island.”

With input from key stakeholders, increasing primary care access, utilization, and quality was the selected focus for the 2009, 2012, and 2015 FHRI grant cycles. This approach was in line with the Foundation’s contemporaneous, and continuing, emphasis on supporting primary care as a core component of its strategy for improving health outcomes for Rhode Islanders.

Given increasing awareness of the role that factors outside of the clinical setting play in achieving improved health outcomes and reducing health disparities, the focus of the 2018 FHRI grant cycle shifted from primary care to supporting place-based collaborations that address health disparities and improve population health in Rhode Island communities.

Current Focus

Beginning in early 2019, the Foundation has convened and led a Long-Term Health Planning committee, made up of a group of local health and health care industry experts, who have collaborated to set and sustain a 10-year plan for improving health in Rhode Island—the Health in Rhode Island vision. Committee members have sought to identify the most pressing needs and commit to state-level coordination and institutional decision-making that will address those needs over the long-term.

The Health in Rhode Island vision includes four main priorities:

  • Provide the most appropriate care for people in the most appropriate setting.
  • Focus upstream on root causes and invest in affordable housing, food security, and transportation to address underlying inequities and influencers of health disparities.
  • Improve behavioral health outcomes by focusing on access to care, coordination of care, and prevention.
  • Reduce wasteful spending in order to redirect those resources to social determinants and improve affordability.

This long term plan also reflects an important reality that is mirrored in the past changes to the focus of FHRI funding opportunities: that improving our state’s healthcare system is vital, but that we must also focus on increasing investment in the Social Determinants of Health and cross-sector partnerships if we want to be successful in addressing the significant racial and ethnic disparities we see across many of our state’s health outcomes.

To help reinforce and achieve these priorities, the Foundation is issuing two FHRI RFPs as part of this cycle of the program. The first was issued in 2021 and focused on responding to behavioral health needs in the community. This second RFP of the FHRI focuses on supporting the health sector workforce, both in and beyond the traditional healthcare delivery system. Supporting the health sector workforce is a core priority of the Long-Term Health Planning committee, as well as the focus on an ongoing public-private health workforce planning process co-convened by Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and Training, and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, for which the Foundation is an active partner.

Long term health sector workforce challenges and shortages across diverse care settings, both clinical and community-based, have been laid bare over the past few years – revealed and accelerated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Building and sustaining a workforce that can provide high-quality care and services to Rhode Islanders necessitates addressing a number of interrelated issues. One of those issues is ensuring that the health sector workforce better reflects the communities it serves.

There is increased awareness that creating an environment of culturally relevant and appropriate treatment reduces a significant obstacle for equitable health service delivery, and evidence of improved care effectiveness, experience, and retention when patients share a racial and/or cultural identity with their care providers. A workforce with relevant lived experience is a critical piece of offering cultural competent, high-quality care. Yet there is often a disconnect between the demographics of health providers and the population served in Rhode Island. While some entry-level, direct care occupations have a concentration of diverse employees, most occupations are not sufficiently representative of the broader community. The need to grow and sustain a diverse workforce that can improve health quality, access, and outcomes—and advance health equity—is of heightened importance given existing racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes have been compounded by the inequitable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are a range of obstacles to building a more representative health sector workforce, including encouraging and supporting more students from diverse backgrounds to be interested and supported in entering the workforce, ensuring that undergraduate and graduate programs are attracting and retaining students from diverse backgrounds, supporting robust employee attraction initiatives, including targeted loan repayment programs, and ensuring competitive compensation.

Alongside all of these is a need for more focus and resources on workforce retention. There is clear evidence that retention saves money, improves work environments and culture, and improves productivity and quality of patient care. Vital in its own right, focusing on improving retention is also associated with improved attraction. This is not just because employers with the necessary supports and programs are more attractive to prospective employees, but also because people are more interested in working within organizations (and sectors) where they see a workforce that reflects themselves.

For the purposes of this RFP, the Foundation welcomes proposals to retain a racially, culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse health workforce.

The Foundation recognizes that this moment in time is one of heightened vulnerability for health providers and nonprofit organizations across the continuum of delivery settings. We also recognize that there are structural factors to increasing retention that are beyond the scope of a one-time grant program (e.g., reimbursement rates).

The Foundation is interested in supporting a broad range of retention approaches focused on varied segments of the workforce in different delivery settings.

  • Applicants may include, but are not limited to, large and small health-focused organizations and collaborations between health-focused organizations (which may include other partners such as workforce training organizations; inter-provider organizations; and place-based collaboration (such as Health Equity Zones).
  • Applicants may focus on any type of workforce across the continuum of professional, paraprofessional, and nontraditional roles.
  • Applicants can focus on new projects or expansion of existing work, and may include time and resources for planning.

Examples of work could include, but are not limited to, supports for professional development and leadership pathway opportunities; targeted wellness and trauma informed workplace programs; mentorship, sponsorship, and fellowship initiatives; and inter- or intra-organizational affinity group and peer support models.

  1. Connections to broader anti-racist and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. While this funding opportunity does not target stand-alone organizational trainings, we are interested in understanding if and how the project aligns with any broader efforts to create a more inclusive workplace.
  2. Meaningful design and participation from the workforce served by the project. Respond to the needs and priorities of the workforce impacted by the project by ensuring their voice is part of the process. It is important that there is input and engagement with the workforce targeted through the proposed initiative.
  3. Responsiveness to the social determinants of workforce retention. There are a number of considerations outside of the workplace that impact retention, for example, childcare/caregiving, housing stability, access to transportation, etc. While proposals do not need to support “wraparound” programming to support these needs, the Foundation is interested in understanding if and how these determinants inform the proposed project.
  4. Clear demonstration of institutional commitment. Given its connection to sustainability, the Foundation is interested in understanding institutional commitment, within or between organizations to carry out and carry forward the work.
  5. Commitment to learning. The Foundation is interested in replicability, and grantees are expected to explain how they will understand program effectiveness and their contributions to retention.

  • Nonprofit, 501(c) organizations located in and serving the state of Rhode Island are eligible to apply.
  • The FHRI does not fund individuals, scholarships or research, capital or endowment efforts, or fundraising events.
  • Grants may support faith-based organizations for secular programs or projects.
  • Research as part of a program evaluation is permitted, however, Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval or exemption must be obtained where human subjects are involved.
  • The Rhode Island Foundation believes that our community can best be served by charitable organizations that both reflect and serve the diversity of our community. We do not award grants to applicants or for programs that have a policy that discriminates against any person or group in any way that is either unlawful or inconsistent with the mission or values of the Foundation.
  • Organizations that are awarded a grant from the FHRI ARE eligible to apply to the Rhode Island Foundation for other grant support, though a pre-application conversation with a Program Officer would be advised.
  • Please note: Applications will not be considered from organizations with overdue Rhode Island Foundation grant reports.

Proposals may be for projects that are up to two years in duration and up to $150,000 per year. Approximately 6 to 8 grants are expected to be awarded.


See opportunity-specific criteria included above.

Proposal Budget

Please follow instructions in the guidance document to complete the budget form, and upload it to your application.

Organizational Budget

Please include your organization's budget for the current fiscal year with year-to-date actuals (not required for public schools and hospitals).

Audited Financials

Please include your organization's financials for the two most recent years (not required for public schools, hospitals, or local municipalities).

Board List
Please attach a copy of your organization's board list.

IRS 501(c) Tax Determination Letter (not a tax-exempt certificate)
Required only if your organization has never applied to the Rhode Island Foundation for funding. If an organization is serving as the fiscal agent for this project, please submit the IRS 501(c) tax determination letter for the fiscal agent.

For correspondence and documents generated by a source that is not electronic/digital, like the tax determination letter, create an electronic/digital file by scanning the document into the computer. It is suggested that you store these documents either on your computer or on a digital/electronic alternative to which you have access, to assist in answering any additional questions related to your request.

To assure that the correct documents are being uploaded, please make note of the folder or location of the files that will be submitted to the Rhode Island Foundation.

To Apply

Click here to apply. Applications must be received by November 4, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.


Notifications of decisions will be made in February 2023.