Media release

Nonprofits receive $2.1 million in new COVID-19 aid to help Rhode Islanders with food, rent, and health care

Latest round of funding brings total grantmaking to $5.7 million thanks to generous donors to Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island

Nonprofits helping Rhode Islanders struggling to cover the cost of food, rent and health care have been awarded another $2.1 million from the COVID-19 Response Fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island.

Children's Friend is one of 130 organizations that received funding in the latest round of grants from the fund, which now has awarded $5.7 million since last month. The Providence nonprofit will use its grant to provide emergency support for families, including help paying for food, rent, utilities and medical expenses.

"Children’s Friend continues to support our most vulnerable children and families through this crisis. As with most disasters, those most vulnerable feel the negative impacts first and most harshly," said David Caprio, president and CEO. "Two dozen staff have been working on-site every day in Providence and Central Falls, throughout the crisis to ensure over 6,000 families have access to food checks, in a safe way."

In addition to Children's Friend, the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale in South Kingstown, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport, Progreso Latino in Central Falls and Thundermist Health Center of Warwick are among the organizations receiving grants in this round of funding. (See the full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support.)

“The need is beyond even what we expected. While generous donors have already contributed $7 million, we're seeing demand for funding grow even faster. Our backlog of applications significantly exceeds the resources that are left and we expect requests will grow by several million dollars, which is why we must keep raising money for the fund in all amounts,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

“As we continue to learn more about the heroic work happening every day to serve neighbors in our community, we are hearing from more and more nonprofit leaders who are facing impossible choices, such as reducing frontline staff and cutting essential services,” said United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Cortney Nicolato. “Rhode Islanders depend on the nonprofit community every day, but today financial support is more critical than ever: our support has the power to provide services to the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders who've historically been disproportionately impacted by health disparities."

The grants ranged from $10,000 to $75,000. Many will help local nonprofits provide food, housing and health care to Rhode Islanders affected by the crisis. Additionally, funding was awarded for medical supplies for care providers facing unprecedented challenges to maintain operations and deliver services to those most in need.

The Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale will use its grant to buy additional supplies in response to rising demand on its food pantry and for home meal delivery expenses to provide meals to seniors, people without transportation and people with compromised health.

"The demand is nearly overwhelming. We're seeing people we never saw before. It's a whole new level of need. The grant gives us the resources to continuing being a safety net for those who otherwise might go hungry," said Kate Brewster, executive director.

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 increasing 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 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