Media release

Vax Challenge generates another $150,000 for nonprofits

Fifteen nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis received $150,000 in grants in the latest round of the RI Gives Vax Challenge. With this third round of funding, more than 15,000 people have now gotten their first dose of the vaccine since the program was launched on July 6. Nearly 80 percent of adult Rhode Islanders are now at least partially vaccinated.

“It takes a team to get the job done, and Rhode Island is lucky to have so many nonprofits stepping up to keep us safe, support vaccination efforts and help those in need."

- Governor Dan McKee

He continued, “Over the last few weeks, we continue to see increases in demand for vaccinations – that’s great news for our collective public health and great news for our nonprofits in the RI Gives Vax Challenge. We know that vaccines are our best tool to keep our communities healthy. If you haven’t yet, get your shot.”

The Vax Challenge encourages Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated by awarding grants to nonprofits that supported the general COVID-19 response and recovery every time another 5,000 people get vaccinated. As a result of reaching the 15,000-vaccination mark, another 15 nonprofits from across Rhode Island received $10,000 grants.

“It is inspiring to see Rhode Islanders stepping up to help organizations that are delivering food, housing and health care to those most affected by the pandemic. But make no mistake, more resources will be necessary. The need is not going away."

- Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation

The recipients of the third round of grants are:

Better Lives Rhode Island
During the pandemic, the organization prepared meals each week and distributed them throughout the city, at tent city sites, to the shelters and hotels that were housing people who were homeless. The organization also distributed more than 2,000 PPE kits and offered a walk-in COVID rapid test site weekly.

Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center
During the pandemic, the organization provided emergency shelter, law enforcement advocacy, transitional housing, court advocacy and community education to more than 7,220 survivors of domestic and sexual assault in Providence County and northern Rhode Island.

Conexion Latina Newport
During the pandemic, Conexion provided food access, financial assistance for rent and utilities, and information in Spanish COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, the organizations hosted multiple vaccination clinics where nearly 600 people were vaccinated.

DaVinci Center for Community Progress
During the pandemic, the DaVinci Center provided case management, counseling, nutrition programs and programs to avert homelessness and food insecurity to approximately 600 people who faced isolation, unemployment and hunger among other challenges.

Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County
During the pandemic, the organization continued to provide temporary, transitional and permanent housing; support groups, counseling and court advocacy among other services.

East Bay Food Panty
During the pandemic, the organization provided access to healthy food and supplemental food programs for children, seniors and people who were homebound.

Higher Ground International
During the pandemic, Higher Ground provided deliveries and on-site distributions of fresh and culturally appropriate foods, PPE supplies, diapers, clothing and financial assistance for rent and immigration fees to immigrant and refugee populations. In addition, the organization provided outreach and on-site access Covid-19 testing, education, on-site vaccine clinics and other health related services.

Housing Network of Rhode Island
During the pandemic, the organization provided direct rental assistance and helped connect individuals to additional resources available in the state. To date, the organization reports getting nearly $2 million in housing- and utility-payment to approximately 2,500 people.

Man Up
During the pandemic, Man Up provided comprehensive and holistic social support and increased outreach to formerly incarcerated men of color and maintained daily remote contact in order to help them cope with the impact of COVID-19.

Mathewson Street United Methodist Church
During the pandemic, Mathewson Street United Methodist Church served 600 to 700 meals per week to people who were food and housing insecure. In addition, the organization connected people to needed resources, and hosted a vaccine clinic that vaccinated 139 people.

Newport Community School
During the pandemic, the organization provided food, PPE supplies and family supports for students whose caregivers faced unemployment, illness or death.

Oasis International
During the pandemic, the organization disseminated information about COVID-19, including the locations of vaccination centers and free testing sites, and COVID-19 protocols. In addition, the organization provided food, household cleaning material, PPE supplies and financial assistance.

Project Undercover
During the pandemic, Project Undercover partnered with 29 statewide partners to provide diapers, socks, underwear, and wipes to children aged seven and under living in poverty.

Rhode Island Center for Justice
During the pandemic, the Center for Justice to prevent evictions, ensure access to reliable utility service, ensure access to education, mitigate harm and connect people in need to other available sources of COVID-19 relief.

Rhode Island Chapter, American Red Cross
During the pandemic, the organization provided volunteer staffing at vaccination clinics, provided emotional support and food to the staff at nursing homes and canvassed neighborhoods to distribute information about COVID-19 safety and to sign people up to get vaccinated.

An additional two rounds of grants totaling $380,000 could 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.

For the next 5,000 new vaccinations, $180,000 will be awarded to 18 nonprofits; $200,000 will be distributed to 20 nonprofits in the fifth and final round when an additional 5,000 people are vaccinated.

Jointly established by Governor McKee, Commerce Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Foundation, the RI Gives Vax Challenge has now awarded $370,000 in grants to 37 nonprofits through the first three rounds. The Elisha Project was one of the recipients in the first round of funding.

“This kind of public/private partnership is what is needed in today's world. The challenges that we face must be met with a strategic and collaborative effort...this is that,” said George Ortiz, executive director of the Elisha Project.

To learn more about vaccinations and to sign up today, visit vaccinateri.org.