State’s new vaccine incentive program to provide $750K for nonprofits

GOV. DANIEL J. MCKEE, right, and Lt. Gov. Sabina A. Matos announced Tuesday a new vaccine incentive program that will provide $750,000 in grants to nonprofits based on new vaccines that are administered in the state. / PBN FILE PHOTO/CASSIUS SHUMAN
GOV. DANIEL J. MCKEE, right, and Lt. Gov. Sabina A. Matos announced Tuesday a new vaccine incentive program that will provide $750,000 in grants to nonprofits based on the number of first vaccine doses administered in the state. / PBN FILE PHOTO/CASSIUS SHUMAN

PROVIDENCE – In an effort to further increase vaccinations, state officials announced Tuesday that incentives will be provided to assist the nonprofit community based on the number of new COVID-19 vaccinations in Rhode Island.

Gov. Daniel J. McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina A. Matos announced a joint establishment of the COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Fund by the R.I. Commerce Corp., the R.I. Department of Health and the Rhode Island Foundation. Under the program, which the state is calling the “RI Gives Vax Challenge,” nonprofits will be eligible for a combined $750,000 in grant funding to help their operations. Grant rounds will be issued based on the number of new first-dose vaccinations administered in the state.

McKee said Tuesday the state is providing $500,000 from its share of CARES Act funds for the program, while the Rhode Island Foundation is financing the balance. New rounds of awards will be granted each time Rhode Island administers an additional 5,000 first COVID-19 vaccine doses, as reported by RIDOH.

McKee said the impetus behind the new fund is to help the nonprofits that have stepped up to assist the community, especially during the pandemic. He said this program is meant to keep the vaccination story still “front and center,” while also offering thanks to the nonprofits for their efforts, including running clinics in their organizations.

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“These are not well-funded nonprofits, but they have been stepping up in a real significant way to help the state of Rhode Island stay safe,” McKee said.

Nonprofits are eligible to receive $10,000 in grants to support their efforts. McKee said $10,000 for an organization would be a “life saver for them, in many ways.”

There will be five rounds of grant distributions under the program. The first round will distribute $100,000; while $120,000 will be distributed in the second round; $150,000 in the third; $180,000 in the fourth; and $200,000 in the fifth and final round.

Applications will open Wednesday and nonprofits can apply through the Rhode Island Foundation’s website. Nonprofits have until July 13 to apply for the first round of grants and the final deadline for the program is July 30.

“Continuing to encourage more Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated, coupled with the incentive to provide support for nonprofits helping many still in need, is a double benefit that serves all in the community,” Rhode Island Foundation CEO and President Neil D. Steinberg said in a statement.

McKee said eligible nonprofits must have provided direct assistance during the pandemic, which includes work addressing health, youth service, learning loss, food insecurity, and behavioral and mental health.

McKee also announced Tuesday that a second drive-up vaccination clinic in the state will open this weekend. The parking garage at the Wickford Junction MBTA Train Station will offer vaccines on Saturdays beginning July 10 from 9 a.m. to noon. Appointments are not necessary, McKee said, just “drive up and get your shot.”

The state currently has a drive-up facility at Fidelity Investments Inc.’s offices in Smithfield.

McKee also said the state exceeded President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4. The governor said 77% of adults 18 and older in Rhode Island have received at least one dose.

As of Tuesday, 656,340 Rhode Islanders 18 years or older had received at least one dose and 597,969 were fully vaccinated, according to data from RIDOH.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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