By Rhonda Miller
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $630,000 to 12 action-oriented projects in the Make It Happen RI initiative. The foundation identified projects that had visionary goals, from connecting manufacturers to expand the in-state supply chain to pushing the spectrum of Ocean State architects and other designers more broadly into the global marketplace. But the foundation wanted the visions to be achievable.
“We made the funding available to those who will follow-through and do something,” Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg said of the financial awards detailed at a media briefing at the organization’s headquarters Thursday.
The awards are the response to a September 2012 brainstorming session at the R.I. Convention Center at which more than 300 private sector and community leaders set out to find innovative ways to put the state firmly on a new economic course. With ideas, experience, collaboration, skills and good intentions, the temporary think tank determined the overriding need is for bold action.
Projects that got funding have to produce tangible results within about a year from the initial Make It Happen brainstorming session.
“We’re not pretending this is the answer,” Steinberg said of the ongoing struggle among state business, government, education and community leaders to find a way to kick Rhode Island out of its stubborn economic doldrums and high unemployment rate, currently at 9.8 percent. “The idea behind this is to be positive, to look forward and get ideas that would become actionable,” he said.
Project teams that received funding are expected to find other resources to continue their efforts.
“We were very clear this funding is seed capital,” said Jessica David, Rhode Island Foundation vice president for strategy and public affairs. “It didn’t come with promises of second-year funding or a sustainability mechanism built in.”
The 12 Make It Happen projects awarded funding from the Rhode Island Foundation are: