Media release

$90,000 grant will help Social Enterprise Greenhouse expand help for historically marginalized communities

SEG plans to work from satellite offices in Central Falls, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket in partnership with local institutions in order to make it easier for local businesses and entrepreneurs to access its support services.

A $90,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation will help the Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) expand its programs for entrepreneurs from historically marginalized communities. The initiative will focus on start-ups in Central Falls, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket.

“The demographics of our state are rapidly changing, but for too many, real opportunity has not kept pace. By opening doors for people of color, women and others who have been denied in the past, we strive to ensure economic security for all Rhode Islanders,” said David N. Cicilline, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

SEG will use the funding to subsidize program participation costs, increase outreach within historically marginalized communities, and formalize its approach to referrals. The business incubator expects to serve more than 200 entrepreneurs with the help of the grant.

“We believe that every entrepreneur deserves the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their location. Our new initiatives reflect our unwavering dedication to tailor our support to the unique needs of each community. With expanded partnerships, a ‘concierge service’ and hands-on assistance, we are on a mission to build thriving local economies,” said Julie Owens, SEG’s CEO.

The organization is already working in Central Falls, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket. Nearly half of the participants in its current business incubator program hail from these communities, and 70 percent of those ventures are BIPOC-owned or led.

“We have made significant strides over the past four years, expanding our outreach efforts, establishing valuable partnerships and strengthening our presence in the target communities. This grant will enable us to provide even more personalized and tailored support,” said Owens.

The funding will enable SEG to ensure entrepreneurs and business owners from historically excluded communities are matched with the right program and services, with a particular focus on early-stage programing.

“We recognize the challenges faced by entrepreneurs who often grapple with the complex landscape of business support organizations, government agencies and federal and state programs. They frequently perceive that these services are primarily centralized in Providence, leading to uncertainty about available resources, application processes and compliance requirements. To address these concerns, we are committed to implementing innovative programs and strategies for our place-based work,” said Owens.

The other work includes building relationships with key community-based organizations, businesses and individuals, with particular focus on established partners such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the R.I. Black Business Association.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through civic leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders. For more information, visit