Three local nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis are among the organizations that will share $700,000 in grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI).

“As a state, we have begun to shift focus from COVID-19 response to relief and recovery, but even with that positive shift, need in the community continues to grow,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We are so appreciative of the donors who have provided financial support since the crisis began in March, and will continue to work with charitable Rhode Islanders to support the nonprofit organizations that remain on the frontlines, providing crucial community services.”

Among the organizations that have received funding from the COVID-19 Response Fund are St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the Housing Hotline and the Community College of Rhode Island. (The full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support is posted here.)

“As we – the nonprofit community – focus more and more on stabilizing households and families, it has become increasingly clear the depth of relief our neighbors need to begin to regain their footing,” said UWRI president and CEO, Cortney Nicolato. “We realize the road ahead may be long, but there’s also no question that without the incredible generosity of so many, that road would be much longer.”

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Newport received $10,00 to purchase fresh meat and produce. St. Peter’s expects the grant will enable it to help about 50 households with food.

“On behalf of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Newport, I am grateful to receive a grant of $10,00 from the Rhode Island Foundation,” said the Rev. Barbara A. Reifschneider.  “This will help meet the needs of the many families that are struggling with food insecurity due to the financial strain of COVID-19. No one should ever have to choose between feeding their family or keeping a roof over their heads.”

The Housing Hotline of Newport received $56,000 to provide emergency housing and other services to people without housing. The goal is to limit the threat of spreading the virus in the community.

“Every year we help anyone with a housing problem, temporary or permanent housing, help with utilities for families and single individuals. Right now, things are really bad. The COVID-19 pandemic and job losses have increased the need,” said Hotline Director Jimmy Winters. “It’s going to be a bad summer.”

The Hotline is working closely with Newport Mental Health (NMH) on the initiative.   

“Just how vulnerable the homeless population is, in Newport County, became blatantly apparent during the pandemic,” said NMH CEO Jamie Lehane. “This grant enables us to keep the most vulnerable homeless people off the streets at night in emergency housing and receiving food, behavioral health care, medical and other support.”

The Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) received $30,000 to help students affected by the COVID-19 crisis with emergency needs, including food, rent and health care among other expenses. The Student Emergency Relief Fund is expected to provide support to nearly 1,000 students this summer.

“CCRI and its students have proven to be hopeful, resilient and unstoppable. This grant helps community college students stay in college, complete their degrees and successfully enter the region’s workforce,” said Bobby Gondola, associate vice president for institutional advancement and college relations.

“As the pandemic continues, student needs continue to rise, and we are prepared for student need to escalate through the fall. We don’t yet know how this pandemic will unfold, but I know our students need us now more than ever and CCRI and its students will emerge stronger with this support,” he said.

With the latest round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund has awarded nearly $8 million to nonprofits across Rhode Island since March 27. Donors have already contributed just over $8.5 million since the crisis began.