RI Foundation awards another $1M in grants from its COVID-19 Response Fund


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nineteen organizations that are helping Rhode Islanders most in need will get a share of $1 million in grants awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation.

The COVID-19 Response Fund was created in March to provide relief to Rhode Island nonprofit organizations at the forefront of the virus response.

The additional funding will help organizations provide Rhode Islanders with money for food, rent, utilities and other expenses, especially after a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit has lapsed and a second stimulus package is up in the air.

Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of the Foundation, said the grants are to help community service organizations around the state “fill the gaps” as some adjust to having fewer resources.

He said the rising cost of things like food, housing and transportation, has contributed to the ongoing need.

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“So at the time when there’s a great need, at the time when people are short on resources, costs have gone up. So the gap has grown, and that’s why it’s so critical at this time,” Steniberg said.

The Community Care Alliance (CCA) in Woonsocket will use its grant money to provide gift cards to grocery stores, bus passes and basic needs assistance. The organization expects to serve approximately 2,000 individuals and 1,000 households.

Leaders with CCA said in the past month, food supports like the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment benefits have returned to normal levels, but prices of food and other important items remain elevated. Gift cards will help individuals purchase personal needs items that individuals cannot purchase with their SNAP benefits.

The Blackstone Valley Community Action Program in Pawtucket said they will use most of their grant to help clients who have been directly affected by COVID-19 with rental assistance and to stock its food pantry. The organization also provides services to low-to-moderate-income residents of Blackstone Valley communities, including Pawtucket, Central Falls, Lincoln, Cumberland, and Smithfield.

The Comprehensive Community Action Program in Cranston will distribute hundreds of grocery store and pharmacy gift cards, subsidize transportation to medical appointments and other crucial destinations, provide emergency housing assistance among other critical expenses. The organization expects to help hundreds of households affected by the pandemic.

According to Foundation leaders, the grants range from $10,000 to $75,000.

With this round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund at the Foundation has raised and awarded approximately $7 million since March 27. Steinberg said even after a vaccine is available, fundraising will have to continue.

“Even with a vaccine, even with treatments, some of these economic behavioral health issues have long tails. They don’t disappear just because we have medical breakthroughs,” Steinberg said. “So while that will be critical, it’s going to take us a while to get people back on their feet, and we all need to support that.”

Organizations receiving grants:

  • Community Care Alliance in Woonsocket
  • Blackstone Valley Community Action Program in Pawtucket
  • The Center for Innovación Mujer Latina in Providence
  • The Refugee Dream Center in Providence
  • Commercial Fisheries of Rhode Island in South Kingstown
  • Community Action Partnership of Providence
  • Comprehensive Community Action in Cranston
  • Direct Action for Rights and Equality in Providence
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport
  • East Bay Community Action Program in East Providence
  • Elisha Project in East Providence
  • Farm Fresh in Pawtucket
  • House of Hope in Warwick
  • Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale
  • Progreso Latino in Central Falls
  • Refugee Dream Center in Providence
  • Rhode Island Community Food Bank in Providence
  • Tri-County Community Action Agency in Johnston, WARM Center in Westerly
  • Westbay Community Action in Warwick

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