September 27, 2020

East Providence nonprofits receive COVID-19 aid to help residents with food, rent and other expenses

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Grants from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund come as RI’ers continue to struggle with the challenges of the COVID-impacted economy

Two East Providence nonprofits are among 19 organizations across the state will be able to help RI’ers with food, rent, utilities and other expenses thanks to $1 million in the latest round of grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.

“Rhode Islanders are struggling to afford basic necessities. These grants will help backbone community service organizations around the state fill the gaps as people ( adjust to) deal with having even fewer resources,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We are so grateful to the donors who have stepped up throughout the pandemic. We will continue to connect with charitable Rhode Islanders to support the nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of providing critical community services.”

The East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) in East Providence will re-stock its food pantries and provide rental and utility assistance as well as distribute gift cards for cleaning supplies. In addition, the organization plans to distribute more food out of health centers.

"The pandemic continues to have a major economic impact on our communities and especially the extremely low to moderate income households that make up the overwhelming majority of our clients. The low-wage, service industry jobs which support many of our clients have declined precipitously, leaving many households short of income for food, rent, utilities and other expenses," said Dennis Roy, executive director.

"Many of our clients are carrying significant rent debt as the rent moratorium is being lifted. Furthermore, having children at home without school or other outlets has created stress on many families, as well as presenting additional barriers to employment. Social isolation is a challenge to most families, and especially so to seniors and those with disabilities who are at higher risk for the disease," he said.

The Elisha Project in East Providence will use its grant to distribute perishable food daily. The organization will continue its community outreach and engagement activities and provide fresh produce and protein products to residents with low or moderate incomes.

“We will continue deploying a system of direct service, temporary and food and household item outdoor delivery sites. The sites are located in high-rises, schoolyards, open parking lots, parks and will continue to be coordinated in partnership with other agencies and municipalities. Utilizing the same plan that we use weekly for our ‘Elisha Project Saturdays,” we will set up tents and tables and distribute informational materials,” said the Rev. George Ortiz Jr., executive director.

“More support is crucial. The COVID-19 restrictions have impacted both our volunteerism and food rescue numbers. The flood of new clients needing foodstuffs and household items have depleted our stored backups en masse,” he said.

In addition to the EBCAP and the Elisha Project, Farm Fresh in Pawtucket, the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program in Pawtucket and Progreso Latino in Central Falls also received funding. The grants range from $10,000 to $75,000.

With this round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund at the Foundation has raised and awarded approximately $7 million since March 27 focused on those most vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded a record $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org.

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