Crossroads Rhode Island awarded $5M from Bezos’ philanthropic effort

CROSSROADS RHODE ISLAND was awarded $5 million from the Bezos Day One Fund's Families Fund. Above, Crossraods Rhode Island President and CEO Karen A. Santilli. / COURTESY CROSSROADS RHODE ISLAND
CROSSROADS RHODE ISLAND was awarded $5 million from the Bezos Day One Fund’s Families Fund. Above, Crossraods Rhode Island President and CEO Karen A. Santilli. / COURTESY CROSSROADS RHODE ISLAND

PROVIDENCE – Crossroads Rhode Island received a $5 million award from the Bezos Day One Fund’s Families Fund, the Jeff Bezos-backed organization announced Tuesday.

“We’re very excited to have been selected as one of only 24 nonprofits across the U.S. to receive a grant from the Day 1 Families Fund,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “This grant is a testament to the amazing work the Crossroads team does every day to help end homelessness in Rhode Island.”

Crossroads was one of 24 organizations receiving a combined $97.5 million. Grants ranged from $2.5 million to $5 million. The Bezos Day One Fund was established in September and is reported to have $2 billion in funds for philanthropic efforts, split between two initiatives: the Families Fund – designed to support and highlight organizations that are doing work to provide shelter for young families, and the Academies Fund, which will launch and operate a network of full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.

“These 24 organizations are working on a number of initiatives that support families in need – from emergency shelter and safe short-term shelter for families to get on their feet, to access and support for permanent housing and support services that help families move forward together,” said Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement Tuesday. “We hope these grants provide the additional resources these leaders and their organizations need to expand the scope and impact of their efforts.”

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A Crossroads Rhode Island spokeswoman told PBN the one-time award will be used to expand the organization’s efforts to help hundreds of struggling Rhode Island families find a safe and permanent place to call home, noting there were roughly 400 Rhode Island families on the state’s coordinated entry list waiting for shelter or housing.

“Unlike traditional shelter models, where families often live in temporary housing for months – even years – Crossroads embraces a best-practices Housing First model,” Crossroads spokeswoman Laura Calenda told PBN. “Housing First moves families experiencing homelessness into permanent housing as quickly as possible. Once a family has been housed, case management and supportive services are provided to help address the issues that caused them to become homeless in the first place.”

“Crossroads is honored to be recognized by the Day 1 Families Fund as an organization that is serving as a national model for how to move the needle in solving the issue of family homelessness,” stated Karen A. Santilli, president and CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island. “Ending family homelessness in Rhode Island is possible, given adequate funding and access to affordable-housing units.”

“This grant sends a powerful message that Crossroads is an organization worth giving to,” added Calenda.

In 2017, Crossroads Rhode Island provided services to 3,300 men, women and children, the nonprofit said, noting that as a result, more than 1,740 people, including 448 families, were no longer homeless last year.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. Email him at Bergenheim@PBN.com.