Leadership in a Time of Crisis: Rhode Island Foundation

It goes without saying that times have changed dramatically here in Rhode Island – and around the world – over the last few months. We are in the midst of an unprecedented health and economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also hear, and must act on, the renewed call to address centuries-old, ingrained, systemic racism. As Rhode Island’s community foundation we are poised to respond in times like these, as both immediate and long-term needs present themselves. The Foundation’s growth and impact over the last 104 years has prepared us to do so with you.

In fact, at the end of 2019, total Foundation assets stood at approximately $1.1 billion and our investment return for the year was 18.6%, bringing our 10-year average return to 8.5%. While there is volatility and uncertainty, the kind of growth we saw in 2019 will undoubtedly help to propel us forward.

In partnership with visionary and committed donors, we were able to raise $47 million dollars in 2019, and awarded a record $56 million in grants to over 2,000 nonprofits doing great work meeting needs in the community. Since mid-March of this year, our attention has been focused on working with philanthropic Rhode Islanders to raise funds to respond specifically to the COVID-19 crisis – raising more than $6.5 million for a response fund in less than three months, and immediately using those funds to make over 300 grants to local nonprofit organizations on the frontline to help fellow Rhode Islanders. Again, results that we can safely say will continue to aid the community as we work in partnership with all of you to prepare for not just a return to normal, but a better future – one where all Rhode Islanders are economically secure, lead healthy lives and benefit from a high quality public education.

As Rhode Island’s community foundation, we have eight core organizational values. Those values guide us as we work to meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders. And, as we write to you today, one of those values stands out as a guiding light: We are committed to addressing the underlying causes of inequity and eliminating disparities. There is so much more to do, challenges and opportunities to take head-on, and the Foundation is ready.

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So, join us. We know you are with us on this journey, and are more committed than ever. Thank you, stay safe, and be well.

All the best,
Neil D. Steinberg
President & CEO
Rhode Island Foundation


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