Media release

$4 million in aid available to help nonprofits respond to COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 Response Fund grants will be awarded to support nonprofit organizations providing direct assistance to Rhode Islanders with financial need or demonstrable hardship resulting from COVID-19 and not otherwise covered by other resources.

The Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island are offering local nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of COVID-19 response more than $4 million in aid through the COVID-19 Response Fund.

The Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island have formed a joint grants-review team to review initial crisis applications in real-time. Awards will be made quickly and on a rolling basis, beginning as early as next week.

COVID-19 Response Fund grants will be awarded to support nonprofit organizations providing direct assistance to Rhode Islanders with financial need or demonstrable hardship resulting from COVID-19 and not otherwise covered by other resources. This may include organizations that supply basic needs to Rhode Islanders, including but not limited to, food, relief from rent and other household expenses, and access to health care.

The grants will also be awarded to provide operating support to nonprofit organizations that are meeting community needs resulting from COVID-19 and are in financial distress. The program will not fund individuals, event sponsorships or capital projects.

The Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island jointly established the COVID-19 Response Fund. After committing catalyst funding itself, the Foundation has raised over $3.3 million in initial contributions from donors such as the Fain Family Foundation and Jon and Ruth Fain, Alan and Vivian Hassenfeld of Hasbro and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Navyn and Paul Salem, the Nelson Family Foundation, Mary Jane and Glenn Creamer, Joan and Pablo Sorensen, the AAA Northeast Charitable Fund, the Grace K. and Wesley S. Alpert Charitable Foundation, the Warren Alpert Foundation, BankNewport, William Braden, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, the Haffenreffer Family Foundation, Kathleen and Barry Hittner, the June Rockwell Levy Foundation, Pam and Mark Mancini, Ted Mattis, Navigant Credit Union, the Partnership for Rhode Island, Clay Rockefeller, the Edward J. and Virginia M. Routhier Fund, the Peggy and Henry Sharpe Fund, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and many generous individuals and families from across Rhode Island.

Contributions to United Way stand at $735,000. United Way and the CVS Health Foundation have each contributed lead gifts, with additional significant gifts from: Amica, Bank of America, BankNewport, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Brown University, Centreville Bank, Dimeo Construction Company, FM Global, Hasbro, Inc., National Grid, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Providence Mutual, StrategicPoint Investment Advisors, Textron Charitable Trust, Tufts, Verizon, Washington Trust, Webster Bank and Wells Fargo.

The fund total stands at just over $4 million. The fund will begin making grants as early as next week.

"We are in the midst of an unpredictable, rapidly changing public health emergency - one that is having immediate impact on the community we care so deeply about, and that will likely have lasting, consequential effects," said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. "This is the time to coordinate resources and response. As the state’s community foundation, we are prepared, and experienced, at quickly being the nexus between Rhode Islanders who want to help and the organizations on the ground responding to immediate and prolonged community need.”

“Everyday, we learn something new about the impact COVID-19 is having in our community, and the news is sobering. We’ve spoken with several thousand Rhode Islanders through our 2-1-1 call center, and we’re hearing from the nonprofit community about disruption to services, loss of programs, and a dire need for items such as food, diapers, cleaning supplies, and medicine,” says Cortney Nicolato, president and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “That’s why I am so grateful to the corporate partners and generous donors who have already stepped up to support the COVID-19 Response Fund. And, we must continue to all work together to support our neighbors and community through this evolving crisis.

Gifts to the fund, in any amount, can be made with the Foundation at or to United Way of Rhode Island 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 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