Media release

Rhode Island Foundation awards $5 million in CARES Act funding to local nonprofits

The grants come as local nonprofits cope with lower revenue and rising demand for services amid the COVID-19 crisis

The Rhode Island Foundation today announced it has awarded $5 million in federal CARES Act funding to more than 120 local nonprofits across the state.

“The Rhode Island Foundation was pleased to provide critical support for nonprofit organizations serving many in need in our community. CARES Act funds approved by Congress and then allocated by the Governor, along with the Foundation’s grant-making capabilities, enabled this to be done successfully and quickly in these challenging and uncertain times,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

The Foundation administered two pools of CARES Act funding -- the Nonprofit Support Fund and the Nonprofit Support for Domestic Violence Victims Fund -- on behalf of the state.

"Rhode Island's nonprofits have gone above and beyond to provide resources and support to those in need throughout this pandemic, especially Rhode Islanders experiencing violence and unsafe living situations," said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo. "As always, I'm incredibly grateful for the Rhode Island Foundation's partnership, and I want to thank them for quickly getting this money out the door to support our community."

Four million dollars is going to support nonprofits offering new or expanded program services or direct assistance that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on individuals and communities. Eligible uses of funds are limited to new, direct costs that are incurred in the provision of these services and direct assistance, including increased staffing, equipment, supplies and material. [The full list of Nonprofit Support Fund grant recipients is posted at]

Project Undercover is one of 119 nonprofits that received grants through the Nonprofit Support Fund. The Warwick nonprofit will purchase winter clothing for thousands of infants and toddlers from families with economic disadvantages. The gloves, knit hats and hand-warmers will be distributed through a network of 26 community action programs and social service agencies across Rhode Island.

"No one could have predicted how dramatically demand for our assistance would jump due to the crisis. It far exceeds what we budgeted for at the beginning of the year. Individuals as well as agencies that we don't usually work with are calling us looking for help. This grant gives us the resources to respond quickly, with more flexibility," said Richard Fleischer, president of the board of directors.

In addition to the clothing, Project Undercover will distribute 1,300 packages of diapers.

“Diapers can be costly and out of reach financially for some families. The number of households that Project Undercover will be able to assist with this funding will vary depending on the number of children in a household. All the items will go to families that are experiencing hardship that puts them at risk for poor health outcomes. Thanks to our partners, we will be able to quickly get these items to children who need them,” said Fleischer.

The Foundation also awarded $1 million to eight organizations for program services or direct assistance to address COVID-19 impacts on domestic violence survivors. The grants are through the Foundation’s Nonprofit Support for Domestic Violence Victims Fund. [The full list of grant recipients is posted at]

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence will use its grant to respond to the increase in demand for shelters and COVID-compliant housing and services for victims of domestic violence. The grant will fund improvements to shelters in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines and increased counseling services, childcare and other assistance for victims.

“We’ve seen a surge in calls to domestic violence support lines since March, with the majority of victims requesting emergency housing, counseling and other advocacy services during the pandemic. To house victims and their children safely, advocates established universal precautions in shelters - including setting up separate living spaces when needed for families, having staff members and residents use personal protective equipment and developing protocols for distancing in shared spaces, such as kitchens and play rooms,” said Tonya Harris, executive director.

“Advocates are encouraging families staying in shelters to spend as much time outside as possible as a way to mitigate risks of exposure of coronavirus in communal living. It is important outdoor space is safe and confidential, therefore funds will be used to add fencing to surround shelters, playgrounds and exposed resident parking lots, for example. Other improvements include purchasing furniture and equipment to reconfigure existing rooms in the shelter to accommodate distance learning,” she said.

The funding for the grants came from the state’s $1.25 billion share of federal CARES Act funding, which was approved by Congress for COVID-19 relief earlier this year.

“This pandemic has increased demand for many services provided by local nonprofits. These organizations have been working overtime to deliver critical relief and assistance. This federal funding will ensure more nonprofits have the resources they need to continue helping families and communities recover,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who led the successful effort to create the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act and successfully secured a small state minimum of $1.25 billion in the law.

“Federal CARES Act funding delivered by way of Rhode Island’s dedicated nonprofits has helped many families through this pandemic,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “The Rhode Island Foundation has once again played an important role helping nonprofits to meet new challenges and reach more Rhode Islanders.”

“Many of our nonprofits have gone into overdrive and stretched themselves thin to continue to provide critical services, goods, and support to those hit the hardest by the pandemic,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin. “With more people seeking help and limited resources, it is critical that we provide aid to the agencies and organizations closest to the ground who understand the needs of communities better than anyone else. I commend Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Foundation for recognizing this area of need. I will continue to work with my Congressional colleagues to ensure that Rhode Island receives additional federal relief.”

"Small nonprofits have been hit extraordinarily hard due to the pandemic," said. U.S. Rep. David Cicilline. "These grants will help provide critical resources to our communities, especially for victims of domestic violence. I’m grateful for all the work these organizations are continuing to do at this important time.”

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.