RI Foundation: $1.4M received in grants to largely help provide PPE in nursing homes, medical facilities


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Foundation says its latest round of grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund will largely go towards securing more personal protective equipment for Rhode Island nursing homes and medical facilities.

In Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Governor Gina Raimondo said while the state’s supply of PPE is stable, it wasn’t where she’d like it to be.

“You still hear from certain nursing homes that are struggling, hospitals still having to do a lot of conservation,” Raimondo said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Foundation announced $1.4 million in grants would be distributed from the fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island.

Nearly one dozen nursing homes, like the Ballou Home for the Aged in Woonsocket, will receive part of the grant money. The Foundation says Ballou will use the money to purchase items like thermometers, masks, gowns and cleaning supplies for its 43-bed facility.

Ballou is one of more than 50 organizations to get funding in this latest round of grants, which will also help those affected by the crisis with food, housing and health care.

For example, Project Undercover will purchase approximately 90,000 diapers with its grant money. The Warwick based organization says the diapers will be distributed through 27 non-profits and expects to reach 75% of Rhode Island children who need them.

Esperanza/Hope in Cranston, East Bay Food Pantry in Bristol, Rhode Island Minority Elder Task Force, McCauley Ministries, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket, and Welcome House of South County are among the other organizations to receive grants anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000.

With Wednesday’s announcement, the COVID-19 Response Fund has awarded a total of $7.2 million to 181 nonprofit organizations since March 27, according to Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg.

“It’s a time of great necessity and need. The needs are both urgent, and there are times of emergency, and that mobilizes people, and that’s what we’ve seen,” Steinberg said. “We’ve seen Rhode Islanders step up to help Rhode Islanders, and that’s what this is all about.”

RELATED: RI Foundation commits $100K to help close remote learning gap »

Steinberg tells Eyewitness News throughout the fund’s creation in early March, he’s seen donations anywhere from $25 to $250,000 — each one more heartwarming and inspiring than the last.

“We had somebody who got their $1,200 government check, and sent it to this fund because they said there are other people who need it more than this person,” Steinberg said. “That’s what keeps us going every day, and that’s what we need in the community to match up those with a few extra resources, with those who have big needs.”

Despite having raised more than $8.4 million since launching the fund, demand continues to grow. Steinberg points to the unemployment rate as a telling factor.

“That’s how you can track this,” Steinberg said. “That’s why when people say, ‘Why is there so much need?’ it’s because people are unemployed, they don’t have resources. We’re trying to share resources with those who need them the most.”

RELATED: Nearly 70 donors contribute to RI Foundation’s challenge grant to close remote learning gap »

If you’re in a position to donate, the COVID-19 Response Fund is continuing to accept donations through the Foundation at rifoundation.org/covid19response or to United Way at uwri.org/covid-19-resource-center/. Donations will be accepted as long as the need continues.

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