PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — More Rhode Island nonprofits are getting a financial boost after a new milestone was reached through the state’s “RI Gives Vax Challenge.”

Gov. Dan McKee said as of Monday night, 20,000 people have gotten vaccinated since the program was launched on July 6.

“When we started this program, I was told we might get 25,000 shots in the arms by October,” McKee said. “And last night we hit 20,000.”

For every 5,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered, $10,000 grants will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations that aided in the pandemic response and recovery.

The announcement came as the governor revealed which 15 nonprofits would be splitting $150,000 in grants from the previous milestone of 15,000.

With this latest round of grants, the RI Gives Vax Challenge has now awarded $370,000 to 37 nonprofits through the first three rounds.

“We are supporting the very charities that have kept us safe during the pandemic,” McKee added.

McKee made the announcement at The Elisha Project, a nonprofit which was among the first recipients of the Vax Challenge grant. The non-profit delivers food and household products to families in need.

“On average, we’re dealing with 40 different organizations, and our soft numbers are about 62,000 families per week, which seems like a lot when you think about the whole,” Executive Director of the Elisha Project George Ortiz said. “So, this grant allowed us to go deeper into that because of the USDA that just ended in April, I believe.”

Ortiz said grant money from the program helped provide more food to help reach more people during the pandemic.

This was the third round of grants that has a starting budget of $750,000. It comprises of $500,000 from the state and $250,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation.

“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 said.

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.

McKee says the ongoing demand for vaccines is good news as the highly contagious delta variant continues to contribute to a surge in cases across the country. So far, 80% of Rhode Island adults have received at least one dose.

However, McKee says there are around 250,000 Rhode Islanders 12 years and older who are not vaccinated yet.

“We know that vaccines are our best tool to keep our communities healthy. If you haven’t yet, get your shot,” he said.

The recipients of this third round of grants are:

  • Mathewson Street United Methodist Church
  • RI Center for Justice
  • Oasis International
  • Higher Ground International
  • Project Undercover
  • Housing Network
  • Conexion Latina
  • Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center
  • Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County
  • Newport Community School
  • East Bay Food Pantry
  • DaVinci Center for Community Progress
  • American Red Cross – RI Chapter
  • Better Lives Rhode Island
  • Man Up