Media release

Nonprofits can still apply for $10,000 Vax Challenge grants

As much as $530,000 is still available through the RI Gives Vax Challenge, which awards $10,000 grants to nonprofits every time an additional 5,000 Rhode Islanders get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Through the first two rounds, 22 nonprofits have already received funding. The deadline to apply is July 30.

In the next round of grants, the Rhode Island Foundation will award $150,000 to 15 nonprofits as soon as another 5,000 residents are vaccinated. Eighteen nonprofits will share $180,000 in the fourth round of grants and 20 nonprofits will share $200,000 in the fifth round.

Applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island with annual operating budgets of less than $3 million in 2020. They must provide services or direct assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on individuals or communities. Organizations may provide services in categories such as health, basic needs, or children and youth. Examples include behavioral health services, food insecurity, and programs that address learning loss.

Jointly established by Governor McKee, the Rhode Island Commerce Department, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Foundation earlier this month, the Vax Challenge encourages Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by offering grants to nonprofits that provided COVID-19 response and recovery services.

The recipients of the second round of grants are:

African Alliance of Rhode Island
During the pandemic, the African Alliance of R.I. and its faith partners worked together to provide food, basic needs and culturally and linguistically appropriate information about COVID-19. The organization has served an average of 25 to 30 African immigrant and refugee families every week with fresh food and fish.

Be The Change Sunday Meal
During the pandemic, Be The Change Sunday has distributed pre-packaged bags with non-perishable food, bread, meat, dairy and frozen foods and has offered curbside pick-up. The number of households the organization serves has tripled from 5,200 to over 15,000.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick
During the pandemic, the Boys & Girls Club of Warwick has focused its resources on distance learning loss, behavioral health and obesity. This summer, the organization is operating two camps, including an innovative STEAM-focused camp to help children overcome so-called distance learning and summer learning loss.

Center for Southeast Asians
During the pandemic, the Center for Southeast Asians has provided case management, delivered food, enrolled people into health insurance, helped small businesses apply for federal aid and provided COVID-19 testing and vaccination information.

The Collective
During the pandemic, the Collective has raised over $70,000 to help South County residents with utilities and housing, provided grocery store gift cards to food-insecure households and shopped for residents who were more vulnerable to the threat of the virus.

Friends of Rhode Island CASA
During the pandemic, Friends of RI CASA, which serves children referred to Family Court as the result of a state filing of an abuse, neglect or dependency petition, has responded to increased requests for clothing, food, bedding, baby-care items and help with transportation. In addition, the organization provided grocery store gift cards, established a food pantry in Providence and created a dedicated fund to pay for tutoring services to help children catch up academically.

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
During the pandemic, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley has increased its resident services efforts to ensure that tenants and other residents of northern Rhode Island can receive individualized support to connect with essential resources such as rental assistance, food and childcare assistance.

Rhode Island Public Health Institute
In June 2020, RI Public Health Institute opened one of the first walk-up COVID-19 testing sites in Rhode Island. The organization provides free COVID-19 testing for local community members in a geographic hotspot for COVID-19. By culturally tailoring its approach to meet the needs of the local Latinx neighborhood, and by offering services in Portuguese and Spanish, the institute is able to engage and test many local community members who had not previously been tested for COVID-19.

Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts
During the pandemic, RICARES has provided free, individual, peer-based substance use disorder recovery services and conducted weekly outreach at McCauley House, Kennedy Plaza and at the Wyndham Hotel in Newport while it housed COVID-positive residents. The organization also provides ride-share services and bus passes to people with no transportation.

The Salvation Army
During the pandemic, the Rhode Island Chapter of the Salvation Army transitioned its Emergency Assistance programs to Emergency Disaster Services response, resulting in increased access by affected individuals and families to its basic needs programming along with new safety protocols to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Turning Around Ministries
During the pandemic, Turning Around Ministries has provided financial assistance to help formerly incarcerated residents of Newport County with rent, utilities and food and has offered supportive services, such as job readiness, transportation and mentoring.

Women's Refugee Care
During the pandemic, Women's Refugee Care has provided mental health supports, provided rental assistance for families at risk of eviction, distributed food to more than 1,300 individuals a month and provided hand sanitizers, masks and cleaning supplies to prevent spread of COVID-19.

The recipients of the first round of grants were Access To Recovery, Adoption Rhode Island, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, the Elisha Project, Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, the Refugee Development Center, the Rhode Island Free Clinic, Southern Rhode Island Volunteers, and the WARM Center.

To learn more about vaccinations and to sign up today, visit