Capacity Building

Learning from each other

The Best Practice Awards recognize outstanding accomplishments by nonprofit organizations and have become an invaluable way to inspire and educate all the nonprofits in our community.

“One simple idea can be the catalyst for broadening our impact.”

“Collaboration and transparency are absolutely key to creating major change.”

These were just two of the many insights shared at the Foundation’s recent Best Practice Awards Learning Summit, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Now in its seventh year, the Best Practice Awards recognize outstanding accomplishments by nonprofit organizations in five areas, and have become an invaluable way to inspire and educate all the nonprofits in our community.

By learning about the innovative work of the awardees, others in the nonprofit field are able to gain insight and tailor their own approaches in ways that are proven to work. At the learning summit at Rhode Island College it was standing-room-only as the 2018 Best Practice Award recipients shared details of their winning projects in informative TED-style talks. Here’s a quick look at the awardees’ work:

Economic Progress Institute
Award Category: Advocacy and Communications

Presented for its “Medicaid Matters” campaign, which educated the public and policy makers about the importance of the program to low-income Rhode Islanders. The campaign used the personal stories of local Medicaid recipients and infographics to bring its advocacy tools to life. “One in three Rhode Islanders rely on Medicaid for health care. Because its cost consumes a large part of the state budget, cuts are always a threat. The campaign helped the program survive the budget process intact,” said Rachel Flum, executive director.

“Collaboration and transparency are absolutely key to creating major change."

- Jack Martin

Providence Public Library
Award Category: Board and Staff Leadership

Presented for a three-stage strategic planning process: creating and implementing a new strategic plan and vision, supporting staff in meeting the plan’s goals and telling the library’s new story to the public, and renovating and re-purposing its Empire Street building. “Collaboration and transparency are absolutely key to creating major change. The board and staff worked together as true partners to create a culture of innovation, especially one that is immediately responsive to community needs and that prioritizes co-innovation with community members and partners,” said Jack Martin, executive director.

Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation
Award Category: Collaboration

Presented for its work building a community of collaboration among fishermen, scientists, resource managers, and food professionals that promotes sound science, sustainable seafood, and vibrant fishing communities. “Each of these communities speaks its own language, uses its own jargon, and harbors assumptions about others involved in fisheries and seafood. We provided a venue for these groups to come together to find common ground and develop practical solutions to challenges facing fisheries resources, supply chains, and coastal communities,” said Dr. Anna Mercer, executive director.

“One simple idea can be the catalyst for broadening our impact."

- Margaret Holland McDuff

Family Service of Rhode Island
Award Category: Innovation

Presented for its work addressing chronic absenteeism among Providence elementary school students through its Walking School Bus initiative. “One simple idea can be the catalyst for broadening our impact. We then can be more effective meeting the needs of people living in poverty, experiencing substance use disorder, and other barriers to wellbeing. This work has had a transformative effect on us as an organization to address the social determinants of ‘life’ through new lenses such as social emotional learning, substance use intervention, sexual health, and community engagement,” said CEO Margaret Holland McDuff.

New Urban Arts
Award Category: Volunteer Engagement

Presented for Youth Mentorship in the Arts, an afterschool program that connects public high school students with local artist volunteers. Students participate in the mentor selection process. Volunteers participate in a yearlong intensive professional development program, consisting of a two-day orientation, monthly training sessions, and a mid-year retreat. “Effective, intensive volunteer programs create a leadership pipeline and serve as transitional experiences for alumni who are interested in employment. Many of our current staff—including those who are alumni—started as volunteer artist-mentors,” said Dan Schleifer, executive director.

Recognizing long-time Foundation donor Herman H. Rose

Building capacity within the nonprofit sector is a crucial, behind-the-scenes part of our work. It makes our funding more potent, but more importantly, it makes everyone’s funding more potent. We are pleased to recognize long-time Foundation donor Herman H. Rose, who has stepped forward to ensure that kind of capacity building can happen in the years to come. He has established a legacy gift to the Rhode Island Rose Award Endowment Fund, which in the future will make an annual distribution to support Foundation programs that focus on strengthening Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations through education, coaching, leadership development, and recognition. We – and the entire nonprofit community – are grateful, and humbled, by his gift.