Media release

Nursing homes among the nonprofits receiving $1.4 million in new COVID-19 aid

Funding will cover protective gear for health care workers, help Rhode Islander with food, rent, health care

Health care workers on the frontlines of caring for patients at nearly a dozen nursing homes and medical facilities across Rhode Island will get an infusion of protective gear thanks to an additional $1.4 million in grants from a special fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Ballou Home for the Aged is one of more than 50 organizations that received funding in the latest round of grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund, which now has awarded $7.2 million since beginning in March. Ballou will purchase thermometers, masks, gowns and cleaning supplies for its 43-bed facility in Woonsocket.

“There is unprecedented demand for material and equipment. This grant gives us additional the resources to keep our nursing home residents and staff safe and secure during these most perilous times,” said Barry B. Zeltzer, executive director.

In addition to Ballou, Esperanza/Hope in Cranston, East Bay Food Pantry in Bristol, Rhode Island Minority Elder Task Force, McCauley Ministries, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket, Project Undercover in Warwick, and Welcome House of South County are among the other organizations that received funding. The grants ranged from $10,000 to $75,000. (The full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support is posted here.)

“We are grateful for all who have supported the Fund as the need for assistance has been surging all over Rhode Island. As Rhode Island’s community foundation, we are trying to build this fund to support those in need. The combination of the health impact and economic impact has brought us to the point now where it will take more resources to continue to provide help to people across the state,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

In addition to the funding for protective gear for health care workers, many of the grants will help nonprofits assist Rhode Islanders who have been affected by the crisis with food, housing and health care.

“When we first launched this fund in March, we asked the nonprofit community what they needed most, and they answered: cash assistance, medical equipment and food. Eight weeks later, we are receiving even more urgent requests,” said United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Cortney Nicolato. “While we are seeing some positive signs in Rhode Island, and we appreciate every single donor who has stepped up to date, we have a long way to go to recovery. Continued support of the COVID-19 Response Fund is as critical today as ever.”

Project Undercover will purchase approximately 90,000 diapers that will be distributed statewide through a network of 27 nonprofit organizations. The Warwick-based organization expects to reach 75 percent of diaper-aged children living in poverty in Rhode Island.

"No one could have foreseen how dramatically demand for our help would increase due to the crisis. It far exceeds what we budgeted for at the beginning of the year. We have also gotten numerous phone calls at our agency from both individuals as well as agencies that we don't usually work with. This grant gives us the resources to respond quickly, with more flexibility," said Richard Fleischer, president of the board of directors.

Generous donors have already contributed $8.3 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund. New gifts to the fund, in any amount, can be made with the Foundation at or to United Way at Donations will be accepted as long as the need continues.

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 grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

United Way of Rhode Island is changing lives and strengthening our communities by investing in proven programs that work over the short-term, and are scalable over the long-term. For more information, visit