Media release

Celebrating a record year in 2019

"Our support helps to move every Rhode Island student closer to achieving educational success, encourages all Rhode Islanders to lead healthier lives and puts economic security within reach of even more of our state’s residents."

The Rhode Island Foundation awarded a record $56 million in grants to more than 2,000 nonprofit organizations last year.

As the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofits in the state, the Foundation works in partnership with donors and nonprofits to meet the needs of the people of Rhode Island. At the end of 2019, total assets stood at more than $1 billion and its total fund investment return for the year was 18.6 percent.

The Foundation also raised $47 million in funds from individual, family, organizational and corporate donors. Gifts ranged in size from $3 to just over $4 million, including more than 1,400 gifts under $250.

"We are grateful for the passionate and committed donors who have worked with us for more than a century to tackle the challenges and issues of the day," said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Partnering with nonprofit organizations to support their crucial work in the community, engaging generous donors and providing leadership around key issues for our state all played a role in our outstanding growth as we rise to meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders.”

Of the $56 million in grants awarded last year, 72 percent were donor-directed awards and 28 percent were Foundation-directed. Many of the grants aligned with the Foundation’s three strategic priorities: educational success, healthy lives and economic security. Through these, the Foundation invests in organizations and programs that strive for long-term solutions to significant community issues. For example:

The Center for Leadership and Educational Equity in Providence was awarded $150,000 to support its work providing professional development for school teachers and administrators.

Fuerza Laboral in Central Falls received $100,000 to support its POWER Co-operative Business Incubation Program, which helps low-income workers create worker-owned and operated co-operative businesses.

The Rhode Island Parent Information Network in Cranston was awarded $75,000 to help certified Community Health Workers obtain specialized training designed to prepare them to work with older adults.

“Working with committed nonprofit partners, our support helps to move every Rhode Island student closer to achieving educational success, encourages all Rhode Islanders to lead healthier lives and puts economic security within reach of even more of our state’s residents,” said Steinberg.

The Foundation also made grants to nonprofits doing critical work in a wide variety of sectors, such as arts and culture, basic human needs, the environment and housing.

The recipients include the Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council in Providence, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket and many organizations doing education and outreach to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

In addition to grant-making and fundraising, community leadership is central to the Foundation’s work.

In 2019, the Foundation raised a record $620,000 for its Civic Leadership Fund (CLF). The annual fund enables the Foundation to go beyond traditional grant-making to meet emerging opportunities and challenges, and engage Rhode Islanders in civic and civil dialogue.

Last year, the CLF supported Foundation-led initiatives such as the creation of 10-year strategic plans to improve health and public education in Rhode Island.

“Our Civic Leadership donors recognize that progress entails many different approaches. Having the resources to take on and lead to address opportunities as they occur enhances the work that our community partners already do,” said Steinberg.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded a record $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.