Rose Fund grants stimulate civic and cultural dialogue
Sixteen nonprofit organizations received grants for everything from improving public access to community histories to documenting the rich history of the state’s Latino communities. The funding is through the Herman H. Rose Civic, Cultural and Media Access Fund.
The primary goals of the Fund, which has awarded more than $400,000 in grants over the years, are to strengthen libraries and other civic, cultural and literacy-focused organizations and expand their role as community centers that stimulate dialogue around critical issues.
“By providing the means to support libraries and other civic, cultural and literacy-focused organizations, we can bolster their position as community centers that encourage discussion around important topics.”- Philanthropist Herman Rose, who created the Fund
The Blackstone River Watershed Council in Lincoln received a grant for $2,800 to update its website in order improve public access to important documents and project updates.
“We are excited to launch a new and interactive website that will provide the general public with the knowledge and understanding of our long history of community service and stewardship towards the Blackstone River and its surrounding communities,” said John Marsland, president.
In addition, the organization will use the grant to preserve collections of documents and important records, provide continuity of information to its directors and ensure control and security of the information.
“Our main goal is to provide an interesting and interactive tool to the general public, which is so important in helping us to communicate our organization’s accomplishments and project updates,” he said.
The Town of Bristol received $3,000 to fund the design of a modern audiovisual system in its future town hall meeting space.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to invest in systems that foster an open and transparent government,” said Steven Contente, town administrator.
The project will include assessing the existing audio and visual systems, conducting a walk-through of the new meeting space and obtaining equipment and room recommendations as well as cost estimates.
“Our goal is to bring long-term value to constituents through the reduction of production cost, improved video quality and increased access to information,” he said.
The Davisville Free Library in North Kingstown received a challenge grant to support its 2019 fundraising campaign. The library will receive $2,200 if it reaches its goal of $27,500. The library could receive an additional $935 if it exceeds the goal by $1,000.
“Our little community library is non-municipal and therefore we rely on the support of grantors like the Rose Fund to continue to provide library programs and services to our neighborhood,” said Sarah Ornstein, director.
“The Davisville Free Library was founded 100 years ago, but we continue to thrive as a community center, a hub for learning and culture and a calm and cozy haven in northern North Kingstown,” she said.
The Gamm Theatre in Warwick received $2,500 to create an accessible archive of 34 years of stage productions and educational activities. The work will include processing and arranging videos, photos and print material for long-term storage, preservation and accessibility.
"Establishing an archival program will improve our current administrative and artistic activities by maximizing our existing resources and putting our legacy to work for the future,” said Oliver Dow, managing director.
"By preserving and sharing our archives, The Gamm safeguards its historical records and becomes a permanent part of Rhode Island's theatrical heritage," he said.
The Newport Restoration Foundation received $2,000 to assist in designing professional interpretive materials and to purchase an interactive digital kiosk and multimedia educational tool to upgrade the exhibition space at Whitehorne House Museum.
“The kiosk and new materials will allow us to tell compelling narratives about 18th-century Newport furniture, and to share information about the style, identification and significance of Newport colonial furniture, the artisans who designed and made the furniture, and the 18th-century global trade system,” said Mark Thompson, executive director.
The grant covers the cost of designing new signage that reflects the updated narratives surrounding 18th-century, Newport-made furniture and buying upgraded technology to present interactive videos and information about the collection in an intuitive manner for museum visitors.
“We want to spark curiosity about process, materials and design and make connections to modern practices of craftsmanship. Funding from this grant will help us transform the museum into a community-oriented site that introduces new generations to the history and significance of 18th-century Newport furniture and related decorative arts,” he said.
The North Smithfield Historical Association received $1,265 to purchase a scanning system that will enable it to share historical documents via social media and its website.
"For the past two years, the North Smithfield Heritage Association undertook the arduous task of digitizing the voluminous amount of historical photos, documents and historical manuscripts we hold in our headquarters, the Forestdale Schoolhouse. Some of these date back to the late 1700’s. With this grant of $1,265 we will purchase a more efficient scanning system that enables us to better share our treasure trove of historical documents on the web and via social media,” said Richard Keene, president.
The association will also use a portion of the grant to buy media projection equipment for the inauguration of a monthly North Smithfield History Nights at Heritage Hall on Greene Street in Slatersville. The free, public presentations will highlight elements of the town's heritage and history.
"This grant allows us to significantly further our goals to promote and preserve our town's rich history and increase its availability to all,” he said.
The Pawtucket Public Library received $1,500 to continue digitizing back issues of the Pawtucket Times newspaper, including issues from May 1898 to December 1901.
The coverage includes cities and towns surrounding Pawtucket, including East Providence, Cumberland and Lincoln, and includes many villages in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
“Providing online searchable access to the newspaper will make the local history of Pawtucket and this historic region broadly available to researchers and the public,” said librarian Tim McDuff.
The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) received $1,500 to complete the final phase of digitizing its popular 2003 publication, “PPS/AIAri Guide to Providence Architecture.”
“This first-of-its kind project for Providence supports our institutional goals to educate the community and engage new audiences using historic resources in Providence. It will ultimately be an easily accessible database of buildings and landscapes that conveys the history of Providence to visitors, residents and researchers alike,” said Brent Runyon, executive director.
The website will present the guidebook content using images and text from various PPS collections, as well as incorporating Google Maps to geo-locate users when they are near a building of interest.
“This tool will allow us to consolidate disparate collections, including the Gowdey File and thousands of photographic slides, allowing for the first time easy access by residents, researchers, students and tourists. This will be a great new tool to promote tourism to Providence. Providence’s historic fabric is both a cultural and economic asset enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” he said.
The R.I. Council for the Humanities (RICH) in Providence received $2,800 to support the preservation of media items archived in its collections, including documentaries, podcasts and radio programs.
For more than 40 years, RICH has supported the production of media that features the diverse voices, experiences and histories of communities across the state. The media will be preserved and highlighted through public programs and an online database.
"This funding is a truly impactful gift. Throughout our history, the Council has worked to support diverse media that reflects the state's history and culture,” said Logan Hinderliter, associate director of grants and partnerships. “Being able to digitally preserve some of our most at-risk items ensures that these stories and projects aren't lost to time.”
Rhode Island Latino Arts in Providence received $4,000 to create an archive that will display the rich and blooming history of Latin Americans living in Rhode Island.
Nuestras Raíces Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island aims to bring the community together through storytelling and document collection.
"The creation of a Latino History Archive will be the first of its kind. What makes it so special is that it will managed by a community organization that reflects the people that it serves,” said Marta V. Martínez, project director and executive director of Rhode Island Latino Arts.
“The archival collection would be an important tool and resource for academic researchers, journalists, educators and, especially, Latino youth who seek to learn more about their history and heritage. It will also raise the self-esteem and make proud those who have contributed to the collection," she said.
The South Kingstown Land Trust (SKLT) received $500 to create informational signs for the kiosks at its 100-acre Weeden Farm property in Matunuck.
“Weeden Farm is our most visible and most frequently visited public access site, including a public trail, birding opportunities, active farmland, managed wildlife habitats and on-going flora and fauna research projects. The ability to have flexible signage will help to appeal to the various user groups and greatly enhance visitor experience,” said Clarkson A. Collins, land management director.
SKLT manages more than 2,850 acres of land in over 165 parcels.
“It is a very large undertaking that substantially improves the public’s awareness as to the ownership, the natural features, history and allowed-uses of each property,” he said.
Southside Community Land Trust received $3,500 to improve communication with immigrant and refugee community gardeners in Providence. This includes hiring interpreters to staff more workshops, translating event flyers and gardening information and installing permanent message boards at three sites in Providence that now display information in English, Spanish, Kirundi, Swahili and Nepali.
“In the past, we expected people to bring a family member to events to interpret, which was limiting because they weren't always available. Now we’re reaching out to our communities in ways that better serve them and demonstrating our commitment to including limited-English proficiency gardeners in all of our programs," said Community Growers Coordinator Andrew Cook.
The University of Rhode Island Library’s Distinctive Collections received $2,800 to prepare one of its women’s collections for access by the public.
“While URI has acquired primary sources related to Rhode Island women regularly since its special collections department was created in 1970s, it has not always prioritized the dissemination of those materials,” said Karen Walton Morse, director of Distinctive Collections.
The funding will support an internship for a graduate student who will work a professional archivist to catalog the collection for use by researchers, educators seeking primary sources for lesson integration, local historians and students.
“This grant will help us to make local women’s history accessible to a wide audience and provide valuable training and experience to a library science student,” she said
The Watch Hill Conservancy received $4,000 to produce films that document the histories of three neighborhoods on the Pawcatuck River. The special project will commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of Westerly and The Watch Hill Conservancy’s 20th anniversary.
The films will look at Avondale, formerly Lotteryville, a farming community that once fed the region, but had to be auctioned off to recover the investment of an landowner’s ship lost at sea; the rough and tumble working waterfront of Margin Street; and Watch Hill.
Dubbed “Where the River Meets the Sea,” the series will be produced by Emmy-award winning documentarians – Betty-Jo Cugini and videographer Jim Karpeichik. The films will air on RI PBS and will be distributed to Westerly schools and libraries throughout Rhode Island.
“The communities along the Pawcatuck River have such interesting but different cultures. The Watch Hill Conservancy is excited it can help document the stories of Avondale, Margin Street and Watch Hill to bring these remarkable histories to the viewers of RI PBS and the children in Westerly schools,” said Deborah Lamm, chair of The Watch Hill Conservancy.
The World War II Foundation in South Kingstown received $4,000 to support public showings of and other educational activities around “D-Day at Pointe du Hoc,” a 50-minute documentary it produced for PBS.
"Herman Rose has been a long-time supporter of the efforts of the World War II Foundation to preserve the personal stories of the World War II. Mr. Rose believes strongly, as we do, that future generations need to grasp to lessons left to us by those who fought and survived the worst conflict known man,” said Tim Gray, executive director.
“We are so grateful that Mr. Rose continues to support, not only our 23 film projects to date, but also our new World War II Global Education Center in South Kingstown, a place where students get an up-close look at the artifacts and hear these incredibly personal stories,” he said.
The R.I. Marine Archeology Project of Newport received $3,500 to support its 2019 Endeavour Excavation Documentary.
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 $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.