Media release

Using grants to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccine

Fund aims to simultaneously incentivize COVID-19 vaccinations and assist nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery.

Governor McKee, the Rhode Island Commerce Department, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Rhode Island Foundation have established the COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Fund. The purpose of the fund and related challenge are to simultaneously incentivize COVID-19 vaccinations and provide assistance to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery.

The budget for the fund is $750,000 to be allocated in $10,000 grant awards to Rhode Island 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. $500,000 will be sourced from the State of Rhode Island and $250,000 from the Foundation. Up to five rounds of grants will be awarded each time Rhode Island administers an additional 5,000 first COVID-19 vaccine doses as reported by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

“I’m really proud of the vaccine incentive program the state and our partners at Rhode Island Foundation have designed. We did intentional research and reflection to create a program that celebrates the spirit of Rhode Island, sustains the importance of getting all Rhode Islanders vaccinated over time, and provides support back to the organizations that are getting our most vulnerable neighbors through the pandemic.”

- Governor Dan McKee

Applications from interested nonprofits will open on July 6 through a portal on the Foundation’s website. Nonprofits must submit their applications by July 13 to be considered for the first round of grants. Applications will be accepted through July 30.

"Rhode Island's successful vaccination efforts to date are a key reason for our state's strong re-emergence from the pandemic," said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "This effort will help us build upon our positive momentum – by encouraging more Rhode Islanders to do the right thing for themselves and for their community. We thank Governor McKee for his continued leadership and the Rhode Island Foundation for this important partnership."

The schedule for award disbursements will coincide with COVID-19 vaccination increments of 5,000 as follows: $100,000 will be distributed for the first 5,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccines administered (10 awards); $120,000 will be distributed for the second additional 5,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccines administered (12 awards); $150,000 will be distributed for the third additional 5,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccines administered (15 awards); $180,000 will be distributed for the fourth additional 5,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccines administered (18 awards); and $200,000 will be distributed for the fifth round of additional 5,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccines administered (20 awards).

“The RI Vax Challenge is one more reason for you to get vaccinated if you’re eligible and haven’t yet received your shot,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “In addition to helping keep Rhode Island safe by boosting our vaccination rate, this program will support the critical network of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island that have been helping people and families throughout the pandemic. As we envision a post-pandemic Rhode Island, it is critical that we keep investing in the organizations that promote well-being at the community level and contribute to a healthier and more resilient state.”

Eligible applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations located in Rhode Island. While the State and partners recognize the impacts of large nonprofits, these grants are designed to support nonprofits with annual operating budgets of less than $3,000,000 in 2020. Applicant organizations must provide services or direct assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on individuals or communities. Such organizations may provide services in categories such as health, basic needs, or children and youth. Examples may include behavioral health services, food insecurity, or programs that address learning loss.

“Continuing to encourage more Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated, coupled with the incentive to provide support for nonprofits helping many still in need, is a double benefit that serves all in the community,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are pleased to be able to step up as a partner to provide support for the Governor’s creative program and to administer the grants.”

The Rhode Island Foundation staff will review and determine whether applicant organizations meet the eligibility requirements of the program. As each milestone is reached Rhode Island Foundation staff will enter eligible applications into a lottery to make selections for grant awards.

To learn more about the RI Gives Vax Challenge, visit RI Gives Vax Challenge. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, visit https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination. To sign up to be vaccinated, visit vaccinateri.org.