Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Founded in 1636, one of the oldest cities in the United States, Providence is the capital and most populous city in the state of Rhode Island with a population exceeding 178,000. Although the city is the 37th largest in the nation, it only encompasses 18.5 square miles of land, making it also one of the most densely populated cities in the country. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 38 percent of the residents are Latino, 37 percent are white, 13 percent are African-American, six percent are Asian, and five are percent mixed race.

Once a leader in agriculture, shipping, and industry, Providence suffered severe economic setbacks through the first half of the 20th century as a result of the Great Depression, devastating floods, and blizzards. From 1975 until 1982, $606 million of local and national community development funds were pumped into the restoration of downtown industrial complexes, marketplaces, and office space. In recent years the city experienced further economic stabilization benefitting from the technology boom from Boston, new construction of condos, high-rises, and the Providence Place Mall, as well as the uncovering of the city’s natural rivers, which led to the construction of pedestrian bridges and cobblestone river-walk ways.

One of the first cities in the U.S. to industrialize, the city has made gradual shifts away from manufacturing towards the service industries, anchored by its eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning. Brown University, the second largest employer in Providence, has invested over $35 million with Rhode Island-based contractors, directly generating nearly 270 full time jobs in construction and related industries. The University, partnering with local elementary schools and Southside Community Land Trust, has sought to engage the community, through their extensive afterschool programs for underprivileged youth.

Despite a highly educated and highly productive workforce, poverty and dilapidated real estate continue to be entrenched problems throughout the city. The decaying infrastructure sparked the formation of a number of community development corporations (CDCs). for example, Community Works Rhode Island has invested over $60 million resulting in the construction of 1,000 housing units and assisting over 300 families a year through their homeownership training and financial literacy classes. Along with CDCs, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) have made dedicated efforts to assist with community restoration; the Providence Revolving Fund, which works with community organizations such as Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, through two capital funds, has invested over $30 million dollars in the revitalization of abandoned buildings and financial assistance services for low-income residents.

The local government too has engaged in community wealth building efforts. Mayor Angel Taveras’ Pathways to Opportunity Office aims to increase the opportunities for low-income residents to increase job skills, work in jobs with career paths, and participate in financial education programs. The office has created over 200 jobs and launched Jobs Now Providence, a subsidized job creation program that assists residents with job placement in varying state agencies.

Community wealth building foundations in Providence have also played a pivotal role in the community for over 100 years. In 2011, the Rhode Island Foundation, one of the country’s oldest community foundations, provided 1,341 discretionary grants of $10,000 or more to organizations such as the Genesis Center, Grow Smart Rhode Island, and Olneyville Housing Corporation. The foundation strives to better the conditions for Providence’s disenfranchised individuals, youth, and families by increasing the availability of affordable housing, providing ample rental units, and increasing job training programs.

An overview of community wealth building efforts follows:

Anchor Institutions

Champlin Foundations

Founded in 1932, the Champlin Foundations have distrubted over $460 million in direct grants, almost exclusively for capital needs, consisting of equipment, construction, renovation, the purchase of real estate property, and reduction of mortgage indebtedness, to tax exempt organizations throughout Rhode Island. The group aims to provide “hands on” equipment and facilities for those being served by local tax-exempt organizations. In 2011, the group approved 208 endowments and dispersed almost $19 million dollars to organizations such as Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need, Dorcas Place, and Community Works Rhode Island.

Dexter Donation Fund

Established in 1824 under the will of Ebenezer Knight Dexter, the Donation Fund supplies grants exceeding $2,000 to nonprofits working to ameliorate the conditions of the poor and improve the lives of Providence’s disadvantaged residents, through healthcare, housing, and capital improvement programs .  In 2011, the fund awarded $2,500 to organizations, such as Children’s Friend, that provide family support centers and rental assistance to unemployed parents.  The sale of Mr. Dexter’s 39-acre farm to Brown University for over one million dollars continues to fund the trust 179 years after its original establishment.

Ocean State Charities Trust

The Ocean State Charities Trust was established in 1981 to aid Rhode Island citizens with housing, healthcare, education, and welfare.  The Trust specifies that grant recipients must be a public charity, incorporated in Rhode Island, and awards grants on a semi-annual basis. In 2011, the trust approved over $305,000 worth of funds to organizations such as Jonnycake Center of Westerly and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, making them the 20th top-giving foundation in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and Women & Infants’ Hospital Partnership

Working together, these three hospitals cumulatively provided one million dollars in core support for the establishment of the South Providence Development Corporation (SPDC), which aims to foster business development and increase employment opportunities that renew the social, economic, and health status within Providence.  Some notable achievements of the partnership include: their job training and placement services resulted in placements for 216 neighborhood residents, they financed and launched CleanScape, a for-profit neighborhood-based recycling company, and assisted in the creation of two other local enterprises; together these three firms employ 26 local residents. The coalition has also purchased and restored vacant and deteriorating real estate to carry out their other major initiatives including the development of a cooperative child care center, a small business incubator, and expansion of the SPDC’s environmental business.

The Rhode Island Foundation

Founded in 1916, the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country and the only one serving the state of Rhode Island.  In 2010, the foundation awarded 51 discretionary grants exceeding $1.7 million to increase the availability of affordable housing, provide ample rental and homeownership units, and increase job training and readiness that address the workforce needs of the communities.  In 2011, the foundation provided grants to 1,341 organizations including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Housing Action Coalition, and HousingWorks RI that work to foster community and economic development.

Washington Trust Charitable Foundation

The Washington Trust Charitable Foundation provides financial assets to programs and projects focused on affordable housing and revitalization, business and economic development, and hospital, health and human services that directly benefit underprivileged local residents.  In 2011, the fund distributed almost $500,000 in assistance, ranking it the 16th top-giving foundation in Rhode Island.

Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Community Works Rhode Island

Community Works Rhode Island (CWRI) was formed through the merger of Elmwood Foundation and the Greater Elmwood Neighborhood Services, which served Rhode Island residents for over 30 years, creating 1,000 housing units, and investing over $60 million in the local community. CWRI works to create opportunities within surrounding neighborhoods for residents to live in affordable homes, increase their quality of life, and improve the conditions of their communities.  Each year over 300 families receive assistance through their bi-lingual homeownership training, foreclosure counseling, and financial literacy classes.  They are currently constructing 26 new rental units and renovating 21 other units, which will result in multiple urban mansions being converted into 90 mixed income rental and ownership units.

Olneyville Housing Corporation

In 1988, the Olneyville Housing Corporation (OHC) was formed to promote the revitalization of Olneyville through the development of affordable housing opportunities. Their real estate development programs include: The Riverside Gateway Apartments, an initiative that revitalizes vacant parcels of land into new affordable rental housing units, and the Olneyville Square Storefront Improvement Program, which provides one-to-one matching grants given to commercial property owners who agree to renovate their storefronts.  One asset-building program offered by the corporation is the Homebuyer Education and Housing Counseling service, which offers homebuyer-training courses in English and Spanish and post-purchase classes on home repair and foreclosure prevention.

Smith Hill Community Development Corporation

Since its inception in 1993, Smith Hill Community Development Corporation (SHCDC) has provided over 85 units of affordable home ownership and rental opportunities for disadvantaged community residents.  The group is currently in the process of rehabilitating over 20 multi-family affordable homes. Their largest project is the Visions II, a 52-unit, scattered-site, tax credit rental unit.  They also have several newly constructed three bedrooms, mixed-income, condos that are being sold for $89,000 a unit.

South Providence Development Corporation

Designed as a partnership between the residents of South Providence, Rhode Island Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and Women & Infants’ Hospital, the South Providence Development Corporation (SPDC) is a non-profit organization working to bring about business development and employment opportunities within the healthcare, small business, and corporate sector.  SPDC’s hospital partners have provided one million dollars in core support during the corporation’s first five years.  The group has effectively leveraged this support by securing funding from city and state governments, several foundations, and corporations to establish a business incubator and offer job training and placement services.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Providence Revolving Fund

The Providence Revolving Fund manages two capital funds: the Neighborhood Loan Fund, with over two million dollars in assets, has invested seven and a half million dollars in historically low- income Providence neighborhoods to restore 460 building, including the renovation of 46 previously abandoned buildings, and invested over 23 million dollars in additional financial assistance services.  The Downcity Fund, with over six million dollars in assets, has invested over seven million dollars in loans and $95,000 in matching grants to construct 100 new housing units, assisted 18 property owners with facade renovations, and provided gap financing for development projects for the commercial district in downtown Providence.  The fund has served as consultants to Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, along with many others.

West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation

Incorporated in 1970, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) is a not-for-profit organization offering economic, home ownership, and real estate development for the residents, business owners, and community groups in the West End neighborhood and other low- wage areas of Providence. This CDFI offers low income home buyers up to $5,000 in down payment grants, up to $20,000 in down payment loans for moderate income families, as well as loans limited to cash out for home repair or debt consolidation.  They also offer $6,000 in Foreclosure Prevention Loans, over $2,000 in Emergency Home Repair Loans, and flexible credit terms with rates as low as three percent.  They own 120 units- 73 affordable and 47 market rental units.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

Southside Community Land Trust

Since 1981, the Southside Community Land Trust has provided land, education, resources, and support for community members to provide healthy food for themselves.  Partnering with the City of Providence, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Brown University Center for Environmental Studies, among many others, the trust has transformed five acres of urban land into productive food growing space, and preserved 50-acres of suburban farmland.  More than 600 families citywide have transformed vacant lots and under used land into more than 30 community gardens.  Through a variety of education programs, the group engages over 1,000 community youth members in hands-on gardening activities each year.

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Little City Growers Cooperative

Little City Growers Cooperative is a network of urban farmers, such as Southside Community Land Trust, Scratch Farm, Red Planet Vegetables, and other independent growers providing health food options at affordable prices.  All crops are grown chemical free, sold to the public at farmers’ markets, and to restaurants on a wholesale level. As the cooperative expanded to include four urban and two suburban farms and distribution to ten restaurants, the co-op’s profits have seen a steady increase from their 2009 sales of $30,000.

The Alternative Food Cooperative

The Alternative Food Cooperative originated in 1970 as a grassroots organization with a dozen families in the Kingston area motivated to provide healthy food to members at affordable prices. With increased participation from the University of Rhode Island’s students, faculty, and other community members, the co-op has expanded to provide healthy food options for the entire community. Annual membership fees are: $36 single, $48 family, $24 seniors and students but membership is not required to shop at the Alternative Food coop. Members that work two hours a month receive a six percent discount and members that work more than two hours a month receive a 12 percent discount.

Tots' Cooperative Nursery School

Founded in 1958, Tots’ Cooperative Nursery School is a nonprofit cooperative program that emphasizes active parental participation in their child’s classroom experience.  The co-op requires each parent to volunteer between six and seven times a year in the classroom, as well as participating in fundraising events, assist with evening classroom cleanups, and playground maintenance.  The nursery is certified through the Rhode Island Department of Education and all teachers hold degrees in education.

Cross-Sectoral

Grow Smart Rhode Island

Grow Smart Rhode Island is a network of citizens, business leaders, university administrators, and elected officials working together to revitalize urban and town centers, increase affordable housing options, expand the development of public transportation, and revitalize the urban agricultural sector.  One project of the group is the Land Use Training Collaborative, which has delivered more than 30 different workshops to more than 2,600 attendees in the past ten years on planning, design, and financial strategies for smart growth and sustainable community development.

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI) offers a comprehensive support system for social innovators to start, advance, and sustain financial capital to develop organizations that improve Providence and its surrounding neighborhoods.  The coalition provides leverage funding, intellectual capital, and consulting for businesses, nonprofits, and governmental sectors that are actively creating jobs for hard to employ individuals and assisting social services.  They provide a wide-array of programs including: Change Accelerator, an eight week mentor based social venture training program, Social Enterprise Rhode Island, a community-building program that has resulted in 50 new ventures, and Buy with Heart, its newest initiative, a social enterprise consumer awareness campaign that encourages the consumption of social enterprise products and services.

The Genesis Center

The Genesis Center was original established in 1892 to assist refugees from Southeast Asia who were settling into Providence’s West End neighborhoods.  Today the Center is a multi-facet organization offering a wide ranges of services to immigrants, refugees, and families with low-income.  Each year the center offers over 600 individuals adult education and workforce development programs, while providing childcare to more than 70 small children.  With a staff from over 25 different nations, representing ten different languages, the Center has assisted over 7,500 individuals from over 26 nations receive occupation, job, and skills training so they can better support themselves and their families.  The Center is able to expand its services, including its workforce development center to include culinary skills and healthcare training, as a result of a $95,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations and a $20,000 community development grant from the City of Providence.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Gripnail Corporation

In business since 1966, Gripnail became a 100 percent employee-owned company in 2004. The corporation specializes in the manufacturing of specialty fasteners and fastener application equipment, especially to the surface of metal.  All products are produced in East Providence and distributed both domestically and internationally.

Green Economy

Groundwork Providence

Through their Environmental Job Training program Groundwork Providence offers individuals from low-income communities a comprehensive job readiness program, job development and placement assistance, case management and referrals, and basic skills training in math and English so they can successful launch a career in Sustainable Landscaping or Brownfield Remediation.  The organization also hires high school students in inner-city areas of Providence for an eight-week period to participate in environmental education programs and community service projects.

Individual Wealth Building

Capital Good Fund

Capital Good Fund is a nonprofit CDFI that provides equitable financial services to low-income families around the state of Rhode Island. They offer small personal loans and one-on-one financial and health coaching in an effort to create pathways out of poverty. Since 2009, Capital Good Fund has made 950 loans for a total of $925,000 disbursed (and a 92% repayment rate), and graduated over 1,000 families through financial and health coaching. The fund is proud to serve a diverse clientele and welcomes inquiries from Spanish-speakers, undocumented individuals, survivors of domestic violence, and any others who may have difficulty accessing mainstream financial services. 

New State & Local Policies

Bank on Providence

Launched by Mayor Cicilline, the Bank of Providence is a comprehensive program seeking to connect the “unbanked,” those living without access to mainstream financial institutions, with affordable financial services.  By the end of this year, the bank aims to offer over 2,000 individuals new accounts, access to home ownership counseling, financial counseling, financial planning classes, and programs that assist youth and families avoid high cost mortgages and predatory lending practices.  Over 30 bank and credit unions are participating to provide more financial assistance to low-wage working Providence residents.

Governor’s Workforce Board

Governor Carcieri signed the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island into effect in September of 2005. The 17-member board institutes statewide policies and guidelines that coordinate employment and training programs, employment-associated educational programs, and support strategies that increase and improve the current and future workforce. The board oversees all state and local workforce and education programs including those under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the Wagner-Peyset Act, and the Family Support Act. In the past 18 months, the board has endowed more than $15 million worth of investments that has led to a collaboration of the state’s employment, education, and economic development sectors.

Pathways to Opportunity Initiative

An alliance between the City of Providence and the Annie E. Casey Foundation led to the creation of the Pathways to Opportunity Office, which is tasked with facilitating the creation of opportunities for low-income residents to increase job skills, work in jobs with career paths, and offer financial education programs.  To date, 111 parents participated in family literacy programs, over $150,000 has been allocated to nine job readiness-training programs, and over two million dollars have been used to fund a contextualized literacy and workforce development program. With federal stimulus funding, the group has created over 200 jobs and launched Jobs Now Providence, a subsidized job creation program that assists residents with job placement in varying state agencies.

Social Enterprise

Amos House

The Amos House has experienced tremendous growth since its inception in 1976, with a staff of 50 people, the house is one of the leading social service agency in Rhode Island, managing the largest soup kitchen, providing services to over 15,000 individuals a year, and housing nearly 150 men and women a night.  Amos House Works is the business sector of the organization, with over 20 full-and-part time employees that work in their for-profit businesses: More than A Meal Catering, Amos House Builds, Friendship Café, and Bristol Harbor’s Homemade.  They have also graduated over 400 adults from their on-the-job training programs: Amos Culinary Education, Amos Carpentry Training, and Literacy Training.  The coalition's transitional housing program and phase two housing programs have assisted 2,300 individuals transition from homeless to self-sufficiency.

Providence Granola Project

Started in 2008, Providence Granola Project, in partnership with Amos House, offers refugees from countries such as Burundi, Myanmar, and Iraq, their first paid position in the United States. Considered one of the premier producers of granola in Rhode Island, with distribution expanding the U.S., the project has provided 20 refugees, six who were not literate in their native language, job training, and English language courses. These 20 refugees receive on-the-job training with the group for one to six months before finding permanent employment with local, for-profit businesses.

The Harvest Kitchen Project

The Harvest Kitchen Project is an extension of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a not-for-profit local food system, that provides a 15-week culinary and job-readiness training curriculum for youth within the Division of Juvenile Corrections.  Participants are trained in preparation of high-quality preserved foods using ingredients grown by local farmers.  Final products are sold at local stores, farmers markets, and to wholesale customers, targeting bulk quantities for local schools, hospitals, and cafeterias. Read more about The Harvest Kitchen Project...

State Asset Building Initiatives

Rhode Island Housing

As a privately funded public purpose corporation created by the General Assembly of 1973, Rhode Island Housing provide low-interest loans, grants, education, and assistance to ensure that all people can afford a quality home that meets their needs.  To achieve their goal they offer lending programs, housing related education programs, and disperse grants and subsidies for those with the greatest needs.  In the past 20 years, the coalition has awarded more than $75 million in federal HOME funds to both for- and non-profit developers, which led to the creation of 3,857 affordable homes in 509 developments across the state.

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit 2020

The Transit 2020 Coalition is a direct result of the 2007 Growing Smart with Transit report, which promotes the development of a robust transit system for the Greater Providence Metropolitan Area and advocates for policy that supports transit-oriented development. The coalition proposes a transit system that provides easy links between modes, develops pedestrian and bike roots, as well as a unified fare system with high priority that would connect Providence with greater Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Northeastern public transportation systems. Read more about Transit 2020...

University & Community Partnerships

D'Abate Community School

Led by Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service, teachers and administrators from the D’Abate Elementary School in Olneyville partnered with staff and students from Brown to develop and staff an after-school program that provides extra academic activities for children from households that earn less than $30,000 a year.  The program involves over 200 elementary students and over 150 Brown students through the school year as well as a five-week summer session.  The Rhode Island Department of Edu Read more about D'Abate Community School...

University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is part of the University’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and partners with Rhode Island’s Agricultural Experiment Station. The program assists community members to improve their lives by extending University-based research to benefit families, farms, and the environment. Although they offer a variety of specialties, the Sustainable and Nurturing Communities program offers a Youth Development Program, 4-H, which provides hands-on learning activities such as, animal and veterinary projects or science and technology camps, which provide the communities’ youth educational experiences so they might become productive citizens.

Social Enterprise

Amos House

The Amos House has experienced tremendous growth since its inception in 1976, with a staff of 50 people, the house is one of the leading social service agency in Rhode Island, managing the largest soup kitchen, providing services to over 15,000 individuals a year, and housing nearly 150 men and women a night.  Amos House Works is the business sector of the organization, with over 20 full-and-part time employees that work in their for-profit businesses: More than A Meal Catering, Amos House Builds, Friendship Café, and Bristol Harbor’s Homemade.  They have also graduated over 400 adults from their on-the-job training programs: Amos Culinary Education, Amos Carpentry Training, and Literacy Training.  The coalition's transitional housing program and phase two housing programs have assisted 2,300 individuals transition from homeless to self-sufficiency.

Providence Granola Project

Started in 2008, Providence Granola Project, in partnership with Amos House, offers refugees from countries such as Burundi, Myanmar, and Iraq, their first paid position in the United States. Considered one of the premier producers of granola in Rhode Island, with distribution expanding the U.S., the project has provided 20 refugees, six who were not literate in their native language, job training, and English language courses. These 20 refugees receive on-the-job training with the group for one to six months before finding permanent employment with local, for-profit businesses.

The Harvest Kitchen Project

The Harvest Kitchen Project is an extension of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a not-for-profit local food system, that provides a 15-week culinary and job-readiness training curriculum for youth within the Division of Juvenile Corrections.  Participants are trained in preparation of high-quality preserved foods using ingredients grown by local farmers.  Final products are sold at local stores, farmers markets, and to wholesale customers, targeting bulk quantities for local schools, hospitals, and cafeterias. Read more about The Harvest Kitchen Project...

New State & Local Policies

Bank on Providence

Launched by Mayor Cicilline, the Bank of Providence is a comprehensive program seeking to connect the “unbanked,” those living without access to mainstream financial institutions, with affordable financial services.  By the end of this year, the bank aims to offer over 2,000 individuals new accounts, access to home ownership counseling, financial counseling, financial planning classes, and programs that assist youth and families avoid high cost mortgages and predatory lending practices.  Over 30 bank and credit unions are participating to provide more financial assistance to low-wage working Providence residents.

Governor’s Workforce Board

Governor Carcieri signed the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island into effect in September of 2005. The 17-member board institutes statewide policies and guidelines that coordinate employment and training programs, employment-associated educational programs, and support strategies that increase and improve the current and future workforce. The board oversees all state and local workforce and education programs including those under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the Wagner-Peyset Act, and the Family Support Act. In the past 18 months, the board has endowed more than $15 million worth of investments that has led to a collaboration of the state’s employment, education, and economic development sectors.

Pathways to Opportunity Initiative

An alliance between the City of Providence and the Annie E. Casey Foundation led to the creation of the Pathways to Opportunity Office, which is tasked with facilitating the creation of opportunities for low-income residents to increase job skills, work in jobs with career paths, and offer financial education programs.  To date, 111 parents participated in family literacy programs, over $150,000 has been allocated to nine job readiness-training programs, and over two million dollars have been used to fund a contextualized literacy and workforce development program. With federal stimulus funding, the group has created over 200 jobs and launched Jobs Now Providence, a subsidized job creation program that assists residents with job placement in varying state agencies.

Individual Wealth Building

Capital Good Fund

Capital Good Fund is a nonprofit CDFI that provides equitable financial services to low-income families around the state of Rhode Island. They offer small personal loans and one-on-one financial and health coaching in an effort to create pathways out of poverty. Since 2009, Capital Good Fund has made 950 loans for a total of $925,000 disbursed (and a 92% repayment rate), and graduated over 1,000 families through financial and health coaching. The fund is proud to serve a diverse clientele and welcomes inquiries from Spanish-speakers, undocumented individuals, survivors of domestic violence, and any others who may have difficulty accessing mainstream financial services. 

Anchor Institutions

Champlin Foundations

Founded in 1932, the Champlin Foundations have distrubted over $460 million in direct grants, almost exclusively for capital needs, consisting of equipment, construction, renovation, the purchase of real estate property, and reduction of mortgage indebtedness, to tax exempt organizations throughout Rhode Island. The group aims to provide “hands on” equipment and facilities for those being served by local tax-exempt organizations. In 2011, the group approved 208 endowments and dispersed almost $19 million dollars to organizations such as Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need, Dorcas Place, and Community Works Rhode Island.

Dexter Donation Fund

Established in 1824 under the will of Ebenezer Knight Dexter, the Donation Fund supplies grants exceeding $2,000 to nonprofits working to ameliorate the conditions of the poor and improve the lives of Providence’s disadvantaged residents, through healthcare, housing, and capital improvement programs .  In 2011, the fund awarded $2,500 to organizations, such as Children’s Friend, that provide family support centers and rental assistance to unemployed parents.  The sale of Mr. Dexter’s 39-acre farm to Brown University for over one million dollars continues to fund the trust 179 years after its original establishment.

Ocean State Charities Trust

The Ocean State Charities Trust was established in 1981 to aid Rhode Island citizens with housing, healthcare, education, and welfare.  The Trust specifies that grant recipients must be a public charity, incorporated in Rhode Island, and awards grants on a semi-annual basis. In 2011, the trust approved over $305,000 worth of funds to organizations such as Jonnycake Center of Westerly and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, making them the 20th top-giving foundation in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and Women & Infants’ Hospital Partnership

Working together, these three hospitals cumulatively provided one million dollars in core support for the establishment of the South Providence Development Corporation (SPDC), which aims to foster business development and increase employment opportunities that renew the social, economic, and health status within Providence.  Some notable achievements of the partnership include: their job training and placement services resulted in placements for 216 neighborhood residents, they financed and launched CleanScape, a for-profit neighborhood-based recycling company, and assisted in the creation of two other local enterprises; together these three firms employ 26 local residents. The coalition has also purchased and restored vacant and deteriorating real estate to carry out their other major initiatives including the development of a cooperative child care center, a small business incubator, and expansion of the SPDC’s environmental business.

The Rhode Island Foundation

Founded in 1916, the Rhode Island Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country and the only one serving the state of Rhode Island.  In 2010, the foundation awarded 51 discretionary grants exceeding $1.7 million to increase the availability of affordable housing, provide ample rental and homeownership units, and increase job training and readiness that address the workforce needs of the communities.  In 2011, the foundation provided grants to 1,341 organizations including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Housing Action Coalition, and HousingWorks RI that work to foster community and economic development.

Washington Trust Charitable Foundation

The Washington Trust Charitable Foundation provides financial assets to programs and projects focused on affordable housing and revitalization, business and economic development, and hospital, health and human services that directly benefit underprivileged local residents.  In 2011, the fund distributed almost $500,000 in assistance, ranking it the 16th top-giving foundation in Rhode Island.

Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Community Works Rhode Island

Community Works Rhode Island (CWRI) was formed through the merger of Elmwood Foundation and the Greater Elmwood Neighborhood Services, which served Rhode Island residents for over 30 years, creating 1,000 housing units, and investing over $60 million in the local community. CWRI works to create opportunities within surrounding neighborhoods for residents to live in affordable homes, increase their quality of life, and improve the conditions of their communities.  Each year over 300 families receive assistance through their bi-lingual homeownership training, foreclosure counseling, and financial literacy classes.  They are currently constructing 26 new rental units and renovating 21 other units, which will result in multiple urban mansions being converted into 90 mixed income rental and ownership units.

Olneyville Housing Corporation

In 1988, the Olneyville Housing Corporation (OHC) was formed to promote the revitalization of Olneyville through the development of affordable housing opportunities. Their real estate development programs include: The Riverside Gateway Apartments, an initiative that revitalizes vacant parcels of land into new affordable rental housing units, and the Olneyville Square Storefront Improvement Program, which provides one-to-one matching grants given to commercial property owners who agree to renovate their storefronts.  One asset-building program offered by the corporation is the Homebuyer Education and Housing Counseling service, which offers homebuyer-training courses in English and Spanish and post-purchase classes on home repair and foreclosure prevention.

Smith Hill Community Development Corporation

Since its inception in 1993, Smith Hill Community Development Corporation (SHCDC) has provided over 85 units of affordable home ownership and rental opportunities for disadvantaged community residents.  The group is currently in the process of rehabilitating over 20 multi-family affordable homes. Their largest project is the Visions II, a 52-unit, scattered-site, tax credit rental unit.  They also have several newly constructed three bedrooms, mixed-income, condos that are being sold for $89,000 a unit.

South Providence Development Corporation

Designed as a partnership between the residents of South Providence, Rhode Island Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and Women & Infants’ Hospital, the South Providence Development Corporation (SPDC) is a non-profit organization working to bring about business development and employment opportunities within the healthcare, small business, and corporate sector.  SPDC’s hospital partners have provided one million dollars in core support during the corporation’s first five years.  The group has effectively leveraged this support by securing funding from city and state governments, several foundations, and corporations to establish a business incubator and offer job training and placement services.

University & Community Partnerships

D'Abate Community School

Led by Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service, teachers and administrators from the D’Abate Elementary School in Olneyville partnered with staff and students from Brown to develop and staff an after-school program that provides extra academic activities for children from households that earn less than $30,000 a year.  The program involves over 200 elementary students and over 150 Brown students through the school year as well as a five-week summer session.  The Rhode Island Department of Edu Read more about D'Abate Community School...

University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is part of the University’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and partners with Rhode Island’s Agricultural Experiment Station. The program assists community members to improve their lives by extending University-based research to benefit families, farms, and the environment. Although they offer a variety of specialties, the Sustainable and Nurturing Communities program offers a Youth Development Program, 4-H, which provides hands-on learning activities such as, animal and veterinary projects or science and technology camps, which provide the communities’ youth educational experiences so they might become productive citizens.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Gripnail Corporation

In business since 1966, Gripnail became a 100 percent employee-owned company in 2004. The corporation specializes in the manufacturing of specialty fasteners and fastener application equipment, especially to the surface of metal.  All products are produced in East Providence and distributed both domestically and internationally.

Green Economy

Groundwork Providence

Through their Environmental Job Training program Groundwork Providence offers individuals from low-income communities a comprehensive job readiness program, job development and placement assistance, case management and referrals, and basic skills training in math and English so they can successful launch a career in Sustainable Landscaping or Brownfield Remediation.  The organization also hires high school students in inner-city areas of Providence for an eight-week period to participate in environmental education programs and community service projects.

Cross-Sectoral

Grow Smart Rhode Island

Grow Smart Rhode Island is a network of citizens, business leaders, university administrators, and elected officials working together to revitalize urban and town centers, increase affordable housing options, expand the development of public transportation, and revitalize the urban agricultural sector.  One project of the group is the Land Use Training Collaborative, which has delivered more than 30 different workshops to more than 2,600 attendees in the past ten years on planning, design, and financial strategies for smart growth and sustainable community development.

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI) offers a comprehensive support system for social innovators to start, advance, and sustain financial capital to develop organizations that improve Providence and its surrounding neighborhoods.  The coalition provides leverage funding, intellectual capital, and consulting for businesses, nonprofits, and governmental sectors that are actively creating jobs for hard to employ individuals and assisting social services.  They provide a wide-array of programs including: Change Accelerator, an eight week mentor based social venture training program, Social Enterprise Rhode Island, a community-building program that has resulted in 50 new ventures, and Buy with Heart, its newest initiative, a social enterprise consumer awareness campaign that encourages the consumption of social enterprise products and services.

The Genesis Center

The Genesis Center was original established in 1892 to assist refugees from Southeast Asia who were settling into Providence’s West End neighborhoods.  Today the Center is a multi-facet organization offering a wide ranges of services to immigrants, refugees, and families with low-income.  Each year the center offers over 600 individuals adult education and workforce development programs, while providing childcare to more than 70 small children.  With a staff from over 25 different nations, representing ten different languages, the Center has assisted over 7,500 individuals from over 26 nations receive occupation, job, and skills training so they can better support themselves and their families.  The Center is able to expand its services, including its workforce development center to include culinary skills and healthcare training, as a result of a $95,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations and a $20,000 community development grant from the City of Providence.

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Little City Growers Cooperative

Little City Growers Cooperative is a network of urban farmers, such as Southside Community Land Trust, Scratch Farm, Red Planet Vegetables, and other independent growers providing health food options at affordable prices.  All crops are grown chemical free, sold to the public at farmers’ markets, and to restaurants on a wholesale level. As the cooperative expanded to include four urban and two suburban farms and distribution to ten restaurants, the co-op’s profits have seen a steady increase from their 2009 sales of $30,000.

The Alternative Food Cooperative

The Alternative Food Cooperative originated in 1970 as a grassroots organization with a dozen families in the Kingston area motivated to provide healthy food to members at affordable prices. With increased participation from the University of Rhode Island’s students, faculty, and other community members, the co-op has expanded to provide healthy food options for the entire community. Annual membership fees are: $36 single, $48 family, $24 seniors and students but membership is not required to shop at the Alternative Food coop. Members that work two hours a month receive a six percent discount and members that work more than two hours a month receive a 12 percent discount.

Tots' Cooperative Nursery School

Founded in 1958, Tots’ Cooperative Nursery School is a nonprofit cooperative program that emphasizes active parental participation in their child’s classroom experience.  The co-op requires each parent to volunteer between six and seven times a year in the classroom, as well as participating in fundraising events, assist with evening classroom cleanups, and playground maintenance.  The nursery is certified through the Rhode Island Department of Education and all teachers hold degrees in education.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Providence Revolving Fund

The Providence Revolving Fund manages two capital funds: the Neighborhood Loan Fund, with over two million dollars in assets, has invested seven and a half million dollars in historically low- income Providence neighborhoods to restore 460 building, including the renovation of 46 previously abandoned buildings, and invested over 23 million dollars in additional financial assistance services.  The Downcity Fund, with over six million dollars in assets, has invested over seven million dollars in loans and $95,000 in matching grants to construct 100 new housing units, assisted 18 property owners with facade renovations, and provided gap financing for development projects for the commercial district in downtown Providence.  The fund has served as consultants to Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, along with many others.

West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation

Incorporated in 1970, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) is a not-for-profit organization offering economic, home ownership, and real estate development for the residents, business owners, and community groups in the West End neighborhood and other low- wage areas of Providence. This CDFI offers low income home buyers up to $5,000 in down payment grants, up to $20,000 in down payment loans for moderate income families, as well as loans limited to cash out for home repair or debt consolidation.  They also offer $6,000 in Foreclosure Prevention Loans, over $2,000 in Emergency Home Repair Loans, and flexible credit terms with rates as low as three percent.  They own 120 units- 73 affordable and 47 market rental units.

State Asset Building Initiatives

Rhode Island Housing

As a privately funded public purpose corporation created by the General Assembly of 1973, Rhode Island Housing provide low-interest loans, grants, education, and assistance to ensure that all people can afford a quality home that meets their needs.  To achieve their goal they offer lending programs, housing related education programs, and disperse grants and subsidies for those with the greatest needs.  In the past 20 years, the coalition has awarded more than $75 million in federal HOME funds to both for- and non-profit developers, which led to the creation of 3,857 affordable homes in 509 developments across the state.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

Southside Community Land Trust

Since 1981, the Southside Community Land Trust has provided land, education, resources, and support for community members to provide healthy food for themselves.  Partnering with the City of Providence, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Brown University Center for Environmental Studies, among many others, the trust has transformed five acres of urban land into productive food growing space, and preserved 50-acres of suburban farmland.  More than 600 families citywide have transformed vacant lots and under used land into more than 30 community gardens.  Through a variety of education programs, the group engages over 1,000 community youth members in hands-on gardening activities each year.

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit 2020

The Transit 2020 Coalition is a direct result of the 2007 Growing Smart with Transit report, which promotes the development of a robust transit system for the Greater Providence Metropolitan Area and advocates for policy that supports transit-oriented development. The coalition proposes a transit system that provides easy links between modes, develops pedestrian and bike roots, as well as a unified fare system with high priority that would connect Providence with greater Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Northeastern public transportation systems. Read more about Transit 2020...