Rhode Island Launches Keep Rhode Island Litter Free Microgrant Program

In a collaborative effort led by Governor Dan McKee, alongside First Lady Susan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Keep Rhode Island Litter Free Microgrant Program was unveiled Friday. This program aims to support community groups engaged in organizing local volunteer trash pick-ups and beautification projects by offering awards of up to $750.

With a dedicated $100,000 budget line proposed by Governor McKee and incorporated into the fiscal year 2024 budget, the program is an extension of the Governor’s and First Lady’s Litter-Free Rhode Island initiative, which commenced in 2022. Under this program, eligible community groups may utilize the grant funds for various purposes, including conducting litter pick-ups aligned with Earth Day, set for April 22 this year, or other volunteer clean-ups and beautification projects to be completed by June 15.

Governor Dan McKee expressed enthusiasm about the microgrant program, stating, “The First Lady and I are thrilled to announce this microgrant program — both to strengthen existing volunteer litter collection efforts and to encourage all Rhode Islanders to be stewards of our natural places and take personal responsibility for our trash. We hope these grants will give a big boost to Earth Day clean-ups and all efforts to make Rhode Island a cleaner, better place.”

First Lady Susan McKee emphasized the centrality of volunteerism in their initiative, applauding the contributions of individuals, municipalities, businesses, and families in beautifying communities across the state. She encouraged everyone to support the cause by taking the pledge to Keep Rhody Litter-Free.

The microgrant funds can be allocated for equipment such as work gloves, trash bags, and trash pickers, as well as for marketing purposes like t-shirts, posters, signage, and more. Additionally, funds may cover food and water for volunteers, as well as debris removal costs like dumpster and hauling fees. Schools, community groups, and municipal government divisions, including departments of public works and parks and recreation, are eligible to apply, with a requirement to provide proof of nonprofit status. Notably, there is no monetary match requirement for applicants.

Applications will be accepted by DEM until close of business on Friday, March 29, and interested organizations are encouraged to submit their applications electronically through https://litterfree.ri.gov/microgrants.

DEM Director Terry Gray emphasized the detrimental impact of litter, describing it as “ugly, expensive, and illegal.” Gray highlighted the role of individual behavior in controlling litter and expressed DEM’s commitment to contributing to the Governor’s and First Lady’s response, promoting conservation, and fostering a sense of ecological stewardship. Community organizations are reminded to submit their applications by March 29, with evaluations based on factors such as relevance to local environmental/community interests, increased community learning opportunities, long-term environmental/beautification impact, and demonstrated need.

Post-completion of the trash pick-up projects, DEM requires organizations to provide documentation, including photographs, participant numbers, and the amount of material collected, as proof that the grant funds were effectively utilized as proposed.




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