FOUR NEW PROJECTS have received a total of $172,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation's Make It Happen RI initiative. Above: Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg speaks at Make it Happen RI in September.
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded a total of $172,000 to four projects that were developed out of the Make It Happen Rhode Island Initiative.
Make It Happen RI, which is supported through the Foundation’s Civic Leadership Fund, brought together more than 300 people from the community and private sector in September 2012 to “brainstorm ways to jumpstart the state economy.”
In October, one month after the meeting, the Foundation released a progress report identifying the six major themes pinpointed during the working sessions: create jobs; close skills gaps; better connect the unemployed with existing job opportunities; address specific barriers to success; collaborate; and promote Rhode Island both internally and externally.
The Foundation has committed $1 million above its regular grantmaking to fund the ideas and projects from the initiative and, in March, announced 12 projects that received a total of $630,000 in funding. Since the March announcement, these are the first four projects to receive funding.
For the Lean Government Initiative, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management received $47,000. The project, led by DEM Director Janet Coit, is “expanding and implementing systems developed under its lean government process to enhance customer service by simplifying regulatory and permitting processes for companies doing business or investing in Rhode Island.”
The Digital City Initiative aims to create a digital media industry in Rhode Island by creating a “critical mass” of Rhode Island-based companies and digital media literate workers to help Rhode Island become internationally recognized for digital media design and production.
According to The Rhode Island Foundation release, the project, which is receiving $50,000, plans to “formalize a digital media membership organization, a digital media design and production center, and a digital media education center.” The initiative is led by Gary Glassman of Providence Pictures and Renee Hobbs of the Harrington School of Communications and Media at the University of Rhode Island.
The Downtown Office Marketing Campaign, which received $25,000, will launch a marketing campaign to introduce and position downtown Providence as an “ideal urban/downtown location for startup entrepreneurs and firms based outside Rhode Island.”
The $25,000 will help fill Providence’s supply of Class B office space. The Providence Foundation and the Downtown Improvement District will work with Providence-based creative agency Nail for this effort.
Finally, the Práctico Innovation project received $50,000 to launch a competition to encourage Rhode Islanders of Hispanic, black and Asian backgrounds to “create 21st century products and services that address specific challenges of their communities.” The project is led by Kipp Bradford, Walter Callender and Don Stanford, and is supported with $50,000.
“We are encouraged by the continued momentum from Make It Happen RI and pleased to support four projects that are committed to making a positive impact across many communities in our state,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation, said in prepared remarks. “Inspiring people to step up with creativity, ownership, action and optimism is what Make It Happen RI was all about.”