Media release

Foundation awards $356,000 in grants to build community throughout Rhode Island

Projects will roll out in 20 cities and towns

The Foundation today announced it has awarded $356,000 in grants to fund neighborhood-based projects across the state. The work ranges from creating gathering spaces in Lincoln and East Providence to supporting community performance projects in Hopkinton and Newport.

“These awards will create places to come together, make friendships and launch new relationships that will build community connections all over our state,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO.

The Foundation is funding 45 projects in 20 cities and towns. The maximum grant was $10,000. Most of the work is expected to be underway before the end of the year.

“These are exciting concepts for inspiring community by the community in the community. Supporting work that improves shared places and quality of life, promotes collaboration and increases community engagement will benefit us all,” said Steinberg.

The Blackstone River Watershed Council received $7,717 for project “Blue Mind,” which will restore a portion of the Blackstone River bank and flood plain in Lincoln. The work will include site improvements such as removing debris, creating pollinator-friendly gardens, marking a trail system with meditation areas, managing invasive plants and re-planting portions of the 12-acre site with locally sourced, native plants, trees and shrubs.

“The reclamation of the grounds can become the catalyst to draw people with diverse characteristics, backgrounds, ages and interests together to spend a moment of time to enjoy a peaceful setting rather than to race past it without a flicker of thought to the encapsulating ecology of Sycamore Landing,” said John Marsland, president. “Our ultimate goal is to create a place where the community can come to relieve the stress and anxiety of today’s world with the help of Mother Nature.”

The East Providence Historical Society received $8,500 to convert the lower level of its education center into a Community Gardening Center, which will educate the community about gardening and build educational programming both in the garden center and throughout the community. The new space will include work benches, a utility sink and greenhouse windows.

"We plan to develop a series of educational gardening talks and demonstrations to be held for children and adults both in the new center and at other neighboring venues," said Cheryl Faria, co-president of the historical society. “We also will work with groups of children to start seeds for their homes and neighborhoods. We will also work with community gardeners to teach them how to grow their own food organically and to employ sustainable gardening practices.”

The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown received $9,200 to support its "Sanctuary in Your Backyard" program, which is geared toward building community through education about Norman’s conservation efforts. The program includes a series of guided walks at the sanctuary as well as online lectures.

“There are tremendous benefits to connecting with our neighbors and connecting our neighbors with nature. We build community, share knowledge and engender a stronger sense of pride for the surrounding neighborhood,” said Kaity Ryan, executive director.

The R.I. Black Storytellers in Providence received $10,000 to support programing in Newport County that is expected to begin in January 2021. The performances include six school programs and two public performances during FUNDA FEST.

“Storytelling has the power to help build and sustain community. We are dedicated to promoting the awareness, application and appreciation of Black Storytelling through performance, cultural, historical and educational experiences for all people,” said Valerie Tutson, executive director.

The Warwick Public Library received $10,000 for two StoryWalk installations in the community. Each StoryWalk will contain a full picture book story with interactive prompts. The library is working with the Warwick Department of Parks and Recreation to install a StoryWalk in City Park and in the Library Garden.

“The magic of a StoryWalk is that it combines reading, experiencing nature, exercise, and family time. These are all activities that are essential to the development of young children,” said Ellen O’Brien, children services librarian.

The African Alliance of Rhode Island in Providence, the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, the East Providence Historical Society, Friends of the Hopkinton Land Trust, the Little Compton Community Center, Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, the Narrow River Preservation Association in Saunderstown, the RiverzEdge Arts Project in Woonsocket and the Rocky Point Foundation in Warwick are among the organizations that also received grants.

Since 2016, the Foundation’s Community Grant program has awarded nearly $1.9 million in grants to dozens of organizations in every city and town in Rhode Island.

Following is the list of all 2020 Community Grant recipients:

1. African Alliance of Rhode Island

2. Aquidneck Community Table

3. Art Connection in Rhode Island

4. Blackstone River Watershed Council

5. Broad Street Regeneration Initiative

6. Boys & Girls Club of Newport County

7. City of Woonsocket

8. Community String Project, Inc.

9. Conanicut Island Land Trust Corporation

10. East Providence Historical Society

11. Family Service of Rhode Island

12. Friends of the Hopkinton Land Trust

13. Friends of the Pawtucket Public Library

14. Hera Educational Foundation

15. India Association of Rhode Island

16. Jamestown School Department

17. Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island

18. John Hope Settlement House

19. Little Compton Community Center

20. Mixed Magic Theatre and Cultural Events

21. Narrow River Preservation Association

22. Norman Bird Sanctuary

23. Patrons of the Assembly

24. Ponaganset High School

25. Pontiac Village Association

26. Restoration Urban Farm of New England (fiscal sponsor: Popular Praxis)

27. Rhode Island Arts Foundation at Newport, Inc.

28. Rhode Island Black Storytellers

29. Rhode Island State House Restoration Committee

30. RiverzEdge Arts Project

31. St. Luke's Episcopal Church

32. Stadium Theatre Foundation

33. Stages of Freedom

34. The Autism Project

35. The Empowerment Factory

36. The Ocean Community YMCA

37. The Rocky Point Foundation Inc

38. Tillinghast Society, Inc.

39. Town of Cumberland

40. Town of Glocester

41. Town of Narragansett

42. Town of Portsmouth

43. Town of Smithfield

44. Trinity Restoration Inc

45. Warwick Public Library

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 $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.