Media release

Nonprofits receive an additional $1 million for COVID-19 relief

Grants from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund come as Rhode Islanders continue to struggle with the challenges of the pandemic-impacted economy

Nineteen organizations across the state will be able to help Rhode Islanders with food, rent, utilities and other expenses thanks to $1 million in the latest round of grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, which has now distributed over $7 million in grants.

“Rhode Islanders are struggling to afford basic necessities. These grants will help backbone community service organizations around the state fill the gaps as people deal with having even fewer resources."

- Neil D. Steinberg, Foundation president & CEO

He continues, "We are so grateful to the donors who have stepped up throughout the pandemic. We will continue to connect with charitable Rhode Islanders to support the nonprofit organizations on the front lines of providing critical community services.”

The Blackstone Valley Community Action Program (BVCAP) in Pawtucket, the Refugee Dream Center in Providence and Commercial Fisheries of R.I. are among the nonprofits that received funding. The grants ranged from $10,000 to $75,000.

BVCAP will use most of its grant to help clients who have been directly affected by COVID-19 with rental assistance and to stock its food pantry, which is open for curbside pickup most weekdays by appointment.

"COVID-19 has had a drastic effect on the community we serve. Clients have lost jobs, schools have closed, parents are unable to work due to children being at home," said Vin Ceglie, executive director.

In addition to rental assistance and the food pantry, BVCAP also provides a host of other services to low-to-moderate-income residents of Blackstone Valley communities, including Pawtucket, Central Falls, Lincoln, Cumberland and Smithfield.

"While no one knows how long the crisis will continue, we're doing everything we can to continue helping people who are struggling with the repercussions of COVID-19," said Ceglie.

The Refugee Dream Center will use the funding to distribute supplies, perform routine check-ins, create multi-lingual public health awareness and provide referrals to community resources. The organization expects to assist approximately 160 families, most of which have low incomes, totaling about 320 children and 300 adults.

"Challenges intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in increased damage within homes, given the increased occupancy within them. The number of people coming to us for help has doubled. Many refugee families lack important public health knowledge and lack adequate access to vital social services such as health care, employment and education. Now we have the resources to effectively address the needs of the community with our limited staff," said Omar Bah, founder and executive director.

Commercial Fisheries of Rhode Island will buy local seafood at below-market rates and provide it to food pantries, meal sites and restaurants that agree to offer complementary pick-up meals to Rhode Islanders in need. The pilot project was developed in partnership with the state Food Policy Council and the state Department of Environmental Management.

"The project will supply fresh, healthy food to people who cannot afford to put protein on their plates while at the same time supporting the state's fishing and hospitality industries. We expect to provide approximately 9,000 pounds of raw fish or 3,500 prepared meals to neighbors in need. It's one of those rare win-win-win initiatives," said Fred Mattera, executive director.

The remaining organizations that received grants are:

Center for Innovacion Mujer Latina – in partnership with a number of referral partners, to provide behavioral health services in Spanish, primarily to clients who are uninsured or under-insured.

Community Action Partnership of Providence – to address basic needs and food and housing insecurity.

Community Care Alliance -- to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene supplies for clients and staff as well as to provide gift cards to grocery stores, bus passes and basic needs assistance to approximately 1,000 households in northern Rhode Island.

Comprehensive Community Action Program -- to distribute grocery store and pharmacy gift cards, to subsidize transportation to medical appointments and other crucial destinations and to provide emergency housing assistance among other critical expenses.

DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) -- to coordinate the COVID-19 response work of five grassroots agencies that will prioritize providing basic needs to households of color with low incomes.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center - to re-stock its food pantry and mobile food pantry, which serve food-insecure residents of Newport County.

East Bay Community Action Program – to re-stock its food pantries, to provide rental and utility assistance and to distribute gift cards for cleaning supplies.

Elisha Project -- to continue its community outreach and engagement activities and to provide fresh produce and protein products to households with low or moderate incomes, primarily residing in East Providence, Warwick, Cranston, Johnston and Newport.

Farm Fresh – in partnership with Hope’s Harvest, to work with farmers to distribute locally grown, fresh produce to food pantries and the R.I. Community Food Bank.

House of Hope – to provide food and personal care items as well as transportation assistance.

Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale – to provide food to and address the basic needs of residents of South County.

Progreso Latino – to provide food to and address the basic needs of residents of Central Falls.

R.I. Community Food Bank – to provide added capacity and resources for food acquisition to ensure sufficient supply to address food insecurity through the year.

Tri-County Community Action Agency – to address the basic needs, primarily food and housing, of residents of Charlestown, Johnston, North Kingstown, North Providence, Pascoag, Wakefield and Westerly.

The WARM Center -- to provide case management services and rental and utility assistance to help people in greater Westerly who are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis remain in their homes and avoid utility shut-offs.

Westbay Community Action – to re-stock its Warwick food pantry and provide assistance with rent and utilities. In addition, the organization will use a portion of its grant to buy personal protective gear in order to enable staff to safely make home visits.

With this round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund at the Foundation has raised and awarded approximately $7 million since March, focusing the aid on Rhode Islanders most vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic.

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.