Before stay-at-home directives went into effect, before the daily COVID-19 press conferences, before the economy shut down, the CharterCare Foundation awarded nearly $100,000 to non-profits to fight COVID-19.
“We did come out early,“ said Paula Iacono, the foundation’s executive director, who leads the organization along with a small board of directors. This modest size, along with an intense commitment to addressing emerging health needs, helped ensure their “COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund” application was on their website in a matter of days. That fund’s grants included $10,000 to Family Service of Rhode Island for “Be Safe” kits, which contain COVID-19-fighting cleaning products, masks, gloves, food and other necessities for Rhode Islanders in need.
The CharterCARE community foundation is only five years old, so one of Paula’s priorities is to raise its community profile to foster applications from a cross-section of Rhode Island non-profits. “We want innovation,” she said, especially proposals addressing emerging needs, or current needs but in ways that may not fall into standard categories. “Even if your program idea doesn’t fit our published focus areas, reach out to me and we can discuss.” She is particularly interested in hearing from smaller non-profits in the healthcare space.
In addition to grants, the foundation awards healthcare scholarships to future nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, dental hygienists, physicians’ assistants, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and others. Scholarships are also available for one-time specialized training.
This is not the first time that the CharterCare Foundation awarded Family Service of Rhode Island a grant. Several years ago, Family Service of Rhode Island’s innovative “Walking School Bus” received support. Coincidentally, the Walking School Bus is headed by Joyce Leven, who leads the “street team” for the agency’s “Be Safe” COVID-19 response program. Like the foundation’s “COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund,” Family Service of Rhode Island’s “Be Safe” was created in the early weeks of March.
Both organizations clearly share a deep commitment to being nimble—every day, and particularly during a pandemic.