Media release

$105,000 in grants awarded for services to RI’s Black community

Support from the Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund comes as RI’ers celebrate Black History Month

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $105,000 in grants to nonprofits serving the state’s Black community through its Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund. The Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund’s roots go back to 2007, when it was established to address the needs of the Black community.

“We’re grateful for the donors, community advisors and nonprofit partners that join us in addressing the underlying causes of inequity. As COVID-19 has underscored, it is clearer than ever that we must work together to eliminate disparities and close achievement gaps in order to promote a better future for all Rhode Islanders,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO.

The fund supports nonprofits that offer youth development and mentoring, promote the history and achievements of Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the Black community and strive to uplift low-income Black Rhode Islanders. The 2022 grant program application deadline is September 8.

Fifteen organizations received grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.

Mixed Magic Theatre & Cultural Events in Pawtucket received $10,000 to support RISE TO BLACK: a Monthly Showcase for Black and Brown Artists. The goal is to offer an opportunity for Black and Brown artists to present their work or the work of Black and Brown writers, musicians, poets and dancers that are supported by professional directors and designers with state of the arts technical resources.

“The elimination of arts-related programs in many schools, as well as, minimal opportunities for Black students at area colleges has created a void that hinders Black and Brown students from developing performance skills or gain technical, design and arts management experience. This long-standing issue makes it difficult for organizations like Mixed Magic Theatre to work at their highest level all the time or retain talent,” said Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, development director. “This will deepen the pool of people with the skills and experience necessary to expand the BIPOC arts footprint in Rhode Island for many years.”

Rhode Island Slave History Medallions in Newport received $10,000 to expand its Marking the Landscape Statewide program. The organization is working on installing plaques commemorating the role of slavery in Rhode Island's history. In 2022, markers will be mounted at the former William Ellery Channing House in Newport's Historic Hill, Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, Casey Farm in Saunderstown and the Saylesville Quaker Meeting House in Lincoln.

"Our medallions tell the rarely heard stories of enslaved people and shed light on the historic role they played in our state’s economic and cultural development. Each marker carries QR code technology that when scanned connects viewers to a documented history of that site, directly from our digital archive. We work in partnership with community sites to mount the bronze medallion and present multicultural, educational programs that acknowledge and celebrate this history and inspire racial healing today." said Charles Roberts, RISHM founder and executive director.

The YMCA of Pawtucket received $5,000 to support its Y Achievers Program for high school students. The workforce development initiative enables teens to become Y junior staff and encourages them to serve as mentors and role models to younger participants.

“They will gain critical job and socio-emotional skills that will help them build a concrete plan for their future. Students will know, develop, and use the skills and competencies for success in high school, college and beyond to support their goals,” said Reginald Jean, the YMCA’s executive director.

The other recipients are:

  • AS220 in Providence received $7,500 to support its youth programs.
  • College Visions received $5,000 for its Increasing College Access Opportunities for Males of Color Program.
  • The Everett School in Providence received $10,000 to support its work.
  • The John Hope Settlement House in Providence received $10,000 for general operations.
  • A Leadership Journey in Providence received $5,000 to support its Prioritizing Our Health program.
  • Mt. Hope Learning Center in Providence received $5,000 for educational supports and enrichments.
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success in Providence received $5,000 to support its Economic Empowerment Project.
  • New Urban Arts in Providence received $5,000 to support its Youth Mentorship in the Arts program.
  • The Nonviolence Institute in Providence received $7,500 to support its Barber Shop After School Program.
  • Oasis International in Providence received $5,000 to support its youth development and mentoring program.
  • Providence Promise received $5,000 to encourage enrollment in its Start Up Grant program and to providence incentives in order to increase deposits in its Early Scholarship savings program.
  • Rhode Island Black Storytellers in Providence received $10,000 to support its Black Stories: FUNDA Fest and Black tennis history programs.

The fund also offers scholarships for Black students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care in college or a technical school. Last year, the fund awarded $55,300 to 24 recipients. The deadline to apply for 2022 scholarship assistance is April 18.

The Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund is just one of the grant programs the Foundation uses to support nonprofits that serve Rhode Island’s community of color. Recent initiatives include creating a capacity-building program to support nonprofits led by Asian, Black, Latino or Hispanic, Indigenous or multi-racial executive directors or other decision-makers within an organization; and launching a grant program to help nonprofits create anti-racist organizational cultures.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information about applying for a Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund grant or scholarship, visit the Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.