COVID-19 Grants Help with Food, Rent

COVID-19 Response Fund Logo
Latest round of COVID-19 aid to provide basic supports.

Twenty-three organizations across the state will be able to provide help with food, rent, utilities, and other expenses thanks to more than $700,000 in grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI).

Building Futures in Providence will use its grant to help support trainees and graduates who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will provide safety net resources such as food, work clothing and tools, transportation, and other items specifically related to finding and maintaining employment. The organization, which offers training and apprenticeships in the construction industry, expects to help approximately 100 trainees and graduates.

“Our pre-apprenticeship trainees and alumni are at the start of new and demanding careers in construction. For many, this is their first — and only — opportunity for family sustaining employment. Yet the economic challenges created by COVID-19 could derail their careers prior to their start. This critical funding will ensure that they are able to meet their financial obligations and remain focused on their long-term career goals,” said Andrew Cortes, executive director.

In addition to Building Futures, Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet in Scituate, Connecting for Children & Families in Woonsocket, the Housing Hotline in Newport, and the African Alliance in Providence are among the other organizations that received funding. The grants range from $10,000 to $50,000.

See the full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support here.

“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.”

Hunger continues to be among the most pressing problems facing Rhode Islanders affected by the crisis. Food pantries report seeing demand rise, driven by people who never before needed to seek their help. For many that offer assistance, the challenge of having enough food to distribute has been compounded by the scope of disruptions brought about by the pandemic.

“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.”

Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet will use its grant to provide more food to local individuals and families in need. The pantry, which also serves Foster and Glocester residents, has seen an uptick in people seeking help.

“Many of the donations we depend on have slowed in the absence of our weekly services and the outside groups that support our work — at a time when the need has gone up,” said the Rev. Johanna Marcure. “As we brace for even more of an increase in the coming months, this grant will help ensure our shelves are stocked.”

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 contributed more than $8.5 million since the crisis began.


United Way of Rhode Island is changing lives and strengthening our communities by investing in proven programs that work over the short-term, and are scalable over the long-term. Learn more.