Media release

Latest round of COVID-19 aid focuses on helping RI’ers with food, rent, utilities and other expenses

Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island combine to award more than $700,000 from the COVID-19 Response Fund

Twenty-three organizations across the state will be able to provide help with food, rent, utilities and other expenses thanks to more than $700,000 in grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI).

Building Futures will use its grant to help support trainees and graduates who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will provide safety net resources such as food, work clothing and tools, transportation and other items specifically related to finding and maintaining employment. The organization, which offers training and apprenticeships in the construction industry, expects to help approximately 100 trainees and graduates.

“Our pre-apprenticeship trainees and alumni are at the start of new and demanding careers in construction. For many, this is their first – and only – opportunity for family sustaining employment. Yet the economic challenges created by COVID-19 could derail their careers prior to their start. This critical funding will ensure that they are able to meet their financial obligations and remain focused on their long-term career goals."

- Andrew Cortes, executive director, Building Futures

In addition to Building Futures, Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet in Scituate, Connecting for Children & Families in Woonsocket, the Housing Hotline in Newport and the African Alliance in Providence are among the other organizations that received funding. The grants range from $10,000 to $50,000. The full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support is posted here.

“As a state we have begun to shift focus from COVID-19 response to relief and recovery, but even with that positive shift, need in the community continues to grow,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We are so appreciative of the donors who have provided financial support since the crisis began in March, and will continue to work with charitable Rhode Islanders to support the nonprofit organizations that remain on the frontlines, providing crucial community services.”

Hunger continues to be among the most pressing problems facing Rhode Islanders affected by the crisis. Food pantries report seeing demand rise driven by people who never before needed to seek their help. For many that offer assistance, the challenge of having enough food to distribute has been compounded by the scope of disruptions brought about by the pandemic.

“As we – the nonprofit community – focus more and more on stabilizing households and families, it has become increasingly clear the depth of relief our neighbors need to begin to regain their footing,” said UWRI president and CEO, Cortney Nicolato. “We realize the road ahead may be long, but there’s also no question that without the incredible generosity of so many, that road would be much longer.”

Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet will use its grant to provide more food to local individuals and families in need. The pantry, which also serves Foster and Glocester residents, has seen an uptick in people seeking help.

“Many of the donations we depend on have slowed in the absence of our weekly services and the outside groups that support our work – at a time when the need has gone up,” said the Rev. Johanna Marcure. “As we brace for even more of an increase in the coming months, this grant will help ensure our shelves are stocked.”

With the latest round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund has awarded nearly $8 million to nonprofits across Rhode Island since March 27.

Donors have already contributed just over $8.5 million since the crisis began.

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.

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