Media release

What’s the big idea? Call for community engagement for spending $1 billion in stimulus funding

Rhode Island Foundation-led group releases guiding principles, begins developing recommendations for spending $1 billion in stimulus funding

Announced in April, Make It Happen: Investing for Rhode Island’s Future, a Rhode Island Foundation-led initiative to develop recommendations to state leaders for spending $1 billion in broad new stimulus funding the state is projected to receive from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), today released their guiding principles and is making a call for broad community engagement and idea generation.

“This infusion of federal taxpayer dollars into the state creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

- Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO, Rhode Island Foundation

He continued, "Policymakers are tasked with strategically investing the funds over three years in ways that are beneficial to all in the community. The Make It Happen Steering Committee, informed by community input from Rhode Islanders and policy analysis by RIPEC and EPI, will offer spending recommendations to state leaders that are intended to positively change the trajectory of the state for generations to come."

With the support of the Economic Progress Institute (EPI) and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC), the Foundation’s Make it Happen Steering Committee has developed a set of guiding principles for their work, in alignment with federal guidance regarding the intended use of ARP dollars. The principles will serve as guidelines as the group works to consider ideas and formulate recommendations to share with state leaders.

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The committee’s guiding principles are:

  1. Equity
    Recommended investments will address the root causes and conditions of systemic inequalities based on race, gender, disability, economic status, and other historically marginalized or oppressed communities which predated and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Sustainability
    Recommended investments will deliver enduring change and solutions that enhance the resilience of impacted communities.
  3. Impact
    Recommended investments will transform economic opportunities and quality of life, and build community assets for impacted communities for the short and long term.
  4. Process
    Recommended investments will reflect both broad input from impacted communities and public stakeholders, as well as solid data and research.

Informed by the guiding principles, and recently-released federal guidance regarding the use of ARPA funds, the Make it Happen Steering Committee is also encouraging community groups, and individuals, to engage in generating and submitting ideas to the committee via an ‘idea generation toolkit’, which is available at www.rifoundation.org/arpideas. All submissions from the community will be shared in full with the committee, and will be reviewed and categorized by subject matter. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. on July 15, 2021.

Later this summer, the committee intends to host facilitated forums throughout the state to offer an additional opportunity for community groups and individuals to work together to give feedback and dig into submitted ideas, as well as to help prioritize ideas for the use of APRA funds.

Finally, after analyzing the public’s input, additional policy research and data collection, the Make it Happen Steering Committee expects to share a final set of recommendations with the community, and state leaders, prior to the end of September.

For more information on the Steering Committee, recently released federal guidelines regarding the use of ARP funds, tips on how to host a community conversation aimed at idea generation, or submit your own ideas, please visit www.rifoundation.org/arpideas.