Neil D. Steinberg

Name a growing or intractable community problem or threat to public wellness in Rhode Island: You’ll find Neil D. Steinberg and the Rhode Island Foundation convening community leaders, offering ideas and money to help find solutions.

Subpar student testing in 2018 led to an earlier-than-planned task force comprised of business, community and education leaders to begin tackling systemic challenges in public education in many urban communities.

Years of rising health costs and shrinking access to care for many of the state’s most vulnerable residents led to a 30-member health planning committee. The group released a 10-year plan in 2020 to make the state the healthiest in the nation.

It was one of several major initiatives Steinberg and his foundation engaged in during the year that will forever be remembered for the emergence of COVID-19. Steinberg, who has served as president and CEO since 2008, was among the first community leaders to spring into action. RIF joined forces with the United Way of Rhode Island to create the COVID-19 Response Fund that distributed millions of dollars to struggling nonprofits across the state.

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But Steinberg didn’t stop there. In a year also marked by rising racial tensions across the nation, RIF committed $8.5 million for programs that support diversity, equity, access and inclusion.

The commitment was on top of tens of millions of annual grants the foundation provides nonprofits across the state.

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