Media release

Rhode Island Foundation awards $290,000 to Newport County nonprofits

Grants will fund activities ranging from emergency housing and distance learning to food pantries and job training

The Rhode Island Foundation today announced that nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents will share $290,000 in grants. The grants, through the Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF), will support a host of activities ranging from emergency housing and distance learning to food pantries and job training.

“In a year marked by the impact of COVID-19 on everyday life, we’re fortunate to have the resources to support organizations that are on the front lines of the pandemic in Newport County,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful for the donors who make it possible for us to support organizations that are well-positioned to respond every day to community needs, and particularly in this uniquely challenging time.”

Child & Family in Middletown received $10,000 to supplement its Supportive Housing Program and respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiative provides safe, affordable housing to families that are experiencing homelessness.

“We recognize the impact of COVID on our vulnerable families. The funds have enabled our Supportive Housing program to pay for moving expenses, rent and security deposit, which helped families secure access to permanent housing,” said Marty Sinnott, president and CEO.

“With the support of this grant, Child & Family will continue to help lift homeless families out of poverty and guide them on a path to independence, including the attainment of permanent housing.”

- Marty Sinnott, president and CEO, Child & Family

Child & Family also used a portion of the grant to stock its food pantry and to provide vouchers that could be used at participating grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies.

“The vouchers have helped families whose employment may have been interrupted by the pandemic to secure food and cleaning supplies,” said Sinnott. “Every dollar awarded enables us to broaden our capacity to meet the needs of the families we serve.”

In addition to Child & Family, the James L. Maher Center, Lucy’s Hearth and Meals on Wheels also were among the 42 organizations that received grants.

Meals on Wheels received $5,000 to support its work providing more than 24,000 home-delivered meals to Newport County seniors and other homebound adults.

"Our goal is to enable Newport County seniors and adults living with disabilities to live independently in their homes for as long as possible by offering daily nutrition and safety checks. We know that providing daily home-delivered meals is a fraction of the cost of paying for a senior to live in an assisted-living facility," said Meghan Grady, executive director.

According to Meals on Wheels, the average monthly cost for a nursing home resident is $9,961 and $5,199 for one-bedroom assisted living apartment while the monthly cost per person of home-delivered meals by the organization is $155.

"The outcomes include reduced hunger and isolation and improved health, safety, and peace of mind for clients, families and their communities,” said Grady.

Lucy's Hearth in Middletown received $10,000 to provide social services to homeless families participating in its emergency shelter and transitional living programs. The organization expects to serve about 175 people, including about 100 children.

"These services are critical for people who are healing from the victimization and trauma inherent with homelessness. Our residents often have multiple and severe impediments to self-sufficiency. This is the lifeblood of all the work we do," said Kelly Lee, executive director.

Residential counselors will provide the services, which include case management, meals, financial literacy, homework assistance, parenting classes, job search assistance and stress management.

"In Newport County, families teeter on the edge of housing affordability and availability, making them more vulnerable to homelessness. Our counselors will support the security of residents and maintain a safe and secure environment during overnight hours," she said.

The James L. Maher Center in Middletown received $10,000 to support a job training program that can accommodate up to 75 clients with developmental disabilities. The grant will enable the Maher Center to pivot to a fully or partially virtual program as necessitated by the fluctuating requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Employment brings structure, social interaction and a sense of achievement into all of our lives,” said Lynne Maher, executive director. “Unfortunately, the public health and economic ramifications of the pandemic have reduced employment opportunities for the people we serve. We’re using this time to develop training programs that will prepare our Maher Center participants for employment when circumstances change – while giving them as much of the experiential value of work as we can.”

“A core component of our program will be virtual job exploration and training through videos, interactive skill labs, and real-time ‘virtual visits’ and Q & As with people in various professions,” she continued. “Now we will have enough iPads and laptops to ensure that no one will be excluded because they lack the technology needed to participate.”

The NCF awards grants of up $10,000 to strengthen or expand established programs, to support policy or advocacy efforts on behalf of community concerns, to fund new projects that focus on significant problems or opportunities, and to leverage strategic collaborations and partnerships. In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of residents from every community in Newport County.

Established in 2002, the NCF has awarded more than $4.6 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. It is one of the grant programs that enable the Foundation to serve Newport County communities.

The remaining grant recipients include:

American Red Cross Rhode Island received $5,000 to support disaster preparedness, recovery and relief services in response to storms and residential fires. The organization has responded to at least 19 incidents in Newport County affecting at least 56 adults and 18 children since July 2018. The Red Cross receives no state or federal money for disaster related activities and relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers.

"We train our staff and volunteers to respond to disasters small and large on Aquidneck Island. They respond to home fires, gas outages where people are evacuated and storms. Other than first responders, no other nonprofit organization has trained volunteers who respond to residential home fires on a 24 hour/seven day a week basis," said Susan Roberts, executive director.

Aquidneck Community Table in Newport received $6,500 to support this summer's farmers market on Newport's North Side offering a variety of public food supports such as SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.

"This market serves the diverse residents of Newport's most food-insecure neighborhood, ensuring that low-income residents of the North Side have access to healthy, fresh food. In addition, area farmers and food producers are growing their customer base," said Bevan Linsley, executive director.

Baby Steps in Newport received a $10,000 grant to support its work providing family education sessions and family enrichment activities that engage family members as partners in the education of children through the age of three.

“Parents and caregivers are the most instrumental people in a child's life, so developing effective parenting skills is vital. By promoting positive relationships and enhancing engagement, we can better prepare children and their families for the future,” said Rita Capotosto, vice president for family development at the East Bay Community Action Program, which administers the initiative.

Best Buddies received $2,000 to support its social inclusion programs for children with intellectual and development disabilities in Newport County schools.

"We work to develop and normalize the school experience for people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities by encouraging one-on-one friendships and inclusive group activities and events. The students acquire and practice social skills that are critical to their future success in the workplace and society," said Patrick Shaughnessy, Rhode Island state director.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County received $10,000 to support its Camp G.R.E.A.T (Grow, Respect, Experience, Accomplish, Transform) for Newport children entering grades 4, 5 or 6. Due to COVID 19, the organization limited the program to a stable pod of 20 children, most of whom are members of households with low incomes.

"Camp provides the youngsters with a safe place to go and the opportunity to build their social, emotional and academic skills. We engage them in active, fun learning so they are able to maintain and build academic and social skills that reduce risky behaviors," said Joseph Pratt, executive director and CEO.

Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $5,000 to support its Blue Access for All initiative, which connects children with the bay, coastline and local ecosystems. The program is expected to serve approximately 60 children.

"Many Newport County children do not get to enjoy healthy outdoor activities along the water. We use a series of stop-and-go activities that enable kids to get their heart rates going. Then we stop for a brief rest or healthy snack before continuing the adventure along the shoreline," said David McLaughlin, executive director.

College Unbound received $5,000 to provide additional support services for 20 to 40 Newport County residents who are resuming their college education. Supports include tutoring and purchasing Chromebooks and textbooks to ensure every student has the resources they need to complete their BA's while working full time and raising families.

"We focus on adults whose post-secondary experiences were interrupted due to major barriers that left them with educational gaps as they now return to complete their bachelor's degree," said Dennis Littky, president.

The Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation in Jamestown received $10,000 to support its STEAM Ocean Initiative, which serves students in Jamestown schools. The initiative offers programs ranging from "Build a Boat and Build a Buoy," which targets first- and second-graders; to the Eco Club, which targets middle school students with a passion for the environment.

"We seek to enrich the elementary and middle school curricula with hands-on, experiential learning activities that enable students to apply what they learn in the classroom to the marine environment," said Meg Myles, executive director. "By delivering engaging, hands-on activities to elementary and middle school students, we will enable them to better understand scientific concepts and see their relevance in real world applications."

Day One in Middletown received $10,000 to provide evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse. The organization expects to serve more than 300 people through its Children’s Advocacy Center in Middletown and its adult advocacy and clinical programs.

“This assistance will help us provide crucial advocacy and treatment for child victims of sexual abuse, and expand prevention education to help end sexual violence in Newport County,” said Peg Langhammer, executive director.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport received $10,000 to support the academic, emotional and social success of students in its after-school and summer camp programs, which serve students from all over Newport County.

"We are proud to offer Out-of-School Programs that include literacy and math enrichment, physical fitness, music, theater, nutrition and STEAM education, field trips and so much more throughout the year to more than 100 children in Newport County,” said Heather Hole Strout, executive director.

The Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England received $5,000 to support its Community Outreach and Extended Learning Program in Newport County. These funds are expected to benefit dozens of girls from under-served populations.

“This enables us to provide the life-changing benefits of Girl Scouting and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to those who are most in need of our services," said CEO Pam Hyland. "“This funding helps girls uncover their personal best and grow into our leaders of tomorrow. They gain self-confidence by learning new skills and discovering the value of giving back to the community."

The Jamestown Arts Center received $5,000 to support its Outdoor Arts Experience Initiative. A series of free public arts programs is intended to break down barriers to participation in the arts. The JAC will introduce new public outdoor art, along with arts activities and workshops for all ages.

“We’re so pleased to have ten amazing public artworks installed across the island of Jamestown as part of the Jamestown Arts Center’s Outdoor Arts Experience. Now, the Newport County Fund’s generous grant support will help fund additional opportunities for our community to enjoy and learn from the arts,” said Maureen Coleman, executive director.

The Jamestown Community Food Pantry received $10,000 to re-stock its facility on Narragansett Avenue. The pantry, which is the only source of free meat, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese and fresh produce on the island, serves more than 50 Jamestown households comprising over 90 persons.

"Perishable food needs to be purchased on a regular basis to stay fresh, so we can’t rely on the usual community food drives,” said Deborah Nordstrom, co-chair. "The coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of persons relying on our food pantry while we face higher food costs and the loss of perishable food donations from retailers facing their own product supply challenges. These funds could not have come at a better time."

Island Moving Company in Newport received $5,000 to support its art-integrated learning programs in Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth and Little Compton elementary schools. The goal is to improve academic performance in math, literacy and creativity.

"There is a great need to help struggling students so they may make gains in academic, social and emotional learning. Our programs provide students with additional learning tools, which helps non-traditional or disengaged learners increase their appetite for learning," said Peter Bramante, executive director.

The Little Compton Community Center received $10,000 to support the Senior Lunch Program and the Center's Generation Collaboration Initiative. The lunch program normally serves meals three days a week at the community center. However, due to COVID-19, the center is providing meals twice a week, which seniors can pick up at the center or have delivered to their homes by volunteers.

"We are happy to be safely serving delicious and nutritious lunches again for a particularly vulnerable group of people in our community. We especially look forward to returning to our warm and inviting dining room, which encourages social interaction and engagement, when it is safe to do so. Delivering meals to home-bound seniors is part of the web of caring people who ensure no one in our community falls through the cracks," said Doug Orville, executive director.

Looking Upwards in Middletown received $10,000 to support its Incredible Years Training Initiative, which educates and equips parents and other caregivers with positive strategies to improve school performance, reduce tension in the home and improve relationships. The organization expects to work with dozens of local families in Newport County and is exploring options for offering components of the program virtually due to COVID-19.

“Many families in our community are struggling right now, and we want to alleviate some of their stress. The Incredible Years is designed to do just that, while also promoting children’s social and emotional health,” said Carrie Miranda, executive director.

MENTOR Rhode Island received $10,000 to support Aquidneck Island Mentoring (AIM), the organization’s school-based mentoring program serving approximately 65 children in Newport and Middletown public schools. COVID-19 has forced the organization to explore and implement virtual mentoring options until face-to-face meetings are once again allowed.

“Our program will continue offering high-quality mentoring relationships for Newport County children. We’ll maintain the program during COVID by converting mentoring pairs to an appropriate virtual mentoring platform and transform our recruitment, screening, training, matching, and match support procedures so they retain their alignment with the best practices in the field while in a virtual space,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO.

Newport Community School received $10,000 for out-of-school programs that focus on career development for youth. The goal is to prepare middle and high school youth for success in college, career and life by offering high-quality career exploration opportunities to equip them with the skills, knowledge and skills for a successful transition into adulthood.

“Because we also serve adult learners, we are very aware of what constitutes career readiness and what the pathway is to employment. Supporting our youth at an early stage will help them use their middle and high school time to explore careers, understand what is needed to pursue careers of interest and to reinforce the importance of academic preparation for their future lives. It is an investment in our youth and our city and state,” said Tracey Shea, executive director.

Newport Mental Health in Middletown received $5,000 to start the process of establishing the first certified LGBTQ Safe Zone in Newport County. Funds will support staff training to protect patients from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender neutral bathrooms and inclusive forms and procedures.

"The LGBTQ+ community deserves a place where they feel safe. LGBTQ+ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. And, they are almost five times as likely to require medical treatment following a suicide attempt as heterosexual youth," said CEO Jamie Lehane.

Newport Partnership for Families received $5,000 to support the Reading Reaps Rewards Summer Learning Initiative (R3), which is designed to prevent the summer learning loss, or “summer slide,” of Newport’s at-risk elementary school children. The partnership is collaborating with Newport Public Schools, the Newport Family and Child Opportunity Zone’s Summer Learning Academy, the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

“Kids are happy to be back with their friends. These are strange times and restrictions have been challenging, in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment. Despite this, our students persevere and have been actively engaged in the programs we offer,” said Joseph Tomchak, assistant executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Newport.

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 $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.