Apply for grants

Apply for grants

Partnering with local nonprofits to achieve our strategic goals

We’re investing in nonprofits doing great work in our areas of focus.

United Way of Rhode Island makes grants consistent with our mission: Uniting our community and resources to build racial equity and opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

Our mission and its specific, measurable goals are presented in our LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan. You can download the plan, and read more about our mission and history here.

Our grantmaking focus

United Way of Rhode Island is committed to leveraging all of our assets (i.e., advocacy, convening, fundraising, strategic investments, awareness building) to create a more equitable Rhode Island. Much of our work is done in collaboration with grantees and other partners. We strive to engage with our grantees and partners in a spirit of trust, candid communication, and transparency. Our collective efforts also depend on the support and resources of governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals.

We primarily make grants to 501(c)(3) public charities. We also make grants to support organizations or projects that work with qualifying fiscal sponsors. We do not make grants to individuals or for scholarships. It is also rare for United Way of Rhode Island to fund capital projects or event sponsorships.

United way's strategic pillars

From 2021 through 2025, United Way of Rhode Island’s investments and work will be organized around the four pillars and respective focus areas outlined in the LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan.

Achieve United

Our "Achieve United" pillar is about advancing childhood learning. Its focus is early childhood literacy and out-of-school time learning programs.

Learn more

Advocate United

Our "Advocate United" pillar is about driving public policy. Our areas of focus include state and municipal policy, advocacy and research.

Learn more

Lift United

Our "Lift United" pillar concerns building economic security, including housing, workforce development, and adult education.

Learn more

Invest United

Our "Invest United" pillar involves expanding philanthropy. It's focus areas include nonprofit capacity building, resilience and diversity.

Learn more

To see current open requests for proposals (RFPs) and apply for grants, visit our grantmaking portal.

United Way of Rhode Island supports a diverse set of grantees across our program areas. You can see examples of recent grantees here.

For each round of grants, we issue a request for proposals (RFP) that outlines the work we are funding, the amounts of grants, the application process, and how we measure and evaluate results.

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Additional funding and capacity building support

United Way of Rhode Island’s strategic goals include both increasing the number of Rhode Island nonprofits in stable financial condition and increasing the amount of Rhode Island households that contribute to charities. We raise millions of dollars a year for local nonprofits via our workplace campaigns and 401Gives. In these programs, donors designate gifts for the qualifying nonprofits of their choice.

  • Workplace campaign donors may select any 501c3 and nonprofits do not solicit gifts; learn more about our workplace campaigns here.
  • Nonprofits elect to participate in 401Gives and may actively solicit designated contributions; learn more about raising money via 401Gives here.

Designated funds from workplace campaigns are distributed through our agency portal and 401Gives through the GiveGab dashboard. Agencies may reach the agency portal the login link at the top of our webpages. 

Our capacity building support includes mobilizing volunteers, professional development (notably, the Executive Director Learning Circle), and the Grantmakers' Council and other resources.

Featured image for Providence Journal Opinion Logo

Invest in after-school and summer learning

The Providence Journal

"As Rhode Island’s policymakers allocate [American Rescue Plan Act] funding for education recovery and school districts determine how to spend those funds, it’s crucial that they partner with and fund after-school and summer learning programs," share Roshni Darnal, director of community investments at United Way of Rhode Island, and Maryclaire Knight.

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Justin Thomas has made large strides toward building a new life in Rhode Island during and after his time in prison, but he remains saddled with court-related debt that will weigh on him for many years. He is among many people who may benefit from a new program that can reduce fines and fees, but not restitution. David DelPoio/The Providence Journal

RI opens path to break cycle of court fees

The Providence Journal

"Long after Rhode Islanders serve their time in prison, many are saddled with thousands of dollars in court fees and fines, even as they struggle to rebuild fractured lives... On Thursday, Nov. 18, a first-of-its kind event will take place to help people navigate their way back into society."

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Two Youthbuild Preparatory Academy students sealing a wooden floor. Youthbuild is one of many organizations that make up Rhode Island's nonprofit sector. YOUTHBUILD PREPARATORY ACADEMY

R.I. can no longer overlook nonprofit sector

The Boston Globe

"The pandemic has highlighted the essential, irreplaceable roles played by Rhode Island's nonprofit sector. And our state investments and attention to the sector needs to reflect that."

READ ON SITE

United Way Welcomes New Board Members

“United Way of Rhode Island has appointed a total of 10 community leaders across its board of directors and its Community Advisory Board, while also naming a new board chair. Assuming leadership of the board of directors is Dolph Johnson, EVP, Chief Global Human Resources Officer for Hasbro, Inc.”

Starkweather & Shepley: Annual Celebration Honoree

“Here at United Way of Rhode Island… we take great pride in our role as a convener, bringing community stakeholders together to address our state’s most important issues. And we are tremendously fortunate to have partners that support not only our work, but also our vision for a Rhode Island that is the best it can be.”

Homes RI: Annual Celebration Honoree

“It’s no secret that Rhode Island is in the midst of a housing crisis — one that began prior to COVID-19 and that’s since reached epic proportions over the past 18 months. As it’s estimated the Ocean State is short some 20,000+ units of affordable housing… one group in particular is leading the charge toward flipping the script.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

Embracing Equitable Practices in OSTL

Join the Rhode Island Afterschool Network for our fall 2021 professional development conference, Embracing Equitable Practices in OSTL, on Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4. You'll learn strategies from experts in our field and receive tools to help mitigate the impact of racism and inequities on our youth. This is a virtual event.

REGISTER

Learn with Leaders ft. Steven O’Donnell

Join United Way of Rhode Island's Young Leaders Circle for Learn with Leaders featuring Steven O'Donnell on Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 6 – 7 p.m. You'll hear how Steve has risen through the ranks in public safety and now paves the way so underserved youth in Rhode Island can reach their full potential. This is a free, virtual event.

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Community Learning Partners

Join United Way of Rhode Island's Women United for our next Community Learning Partners event on Thursday, Dec. 9, from noon – 1 p.m. You'll hear from Camp RYSE, Meeting Street, and Mt. Hope Learning Center — three Women United grantee partners doing exceptional work to support childhood learning. This is a free, virtual event.

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YLC Holiday Event and Stocking Drive

Join United Way of Rhode Island's Young Leaders Circle (YLC) in spreading holiday cheer as we collect stuffed stockings for underserved youth in Rhode Island. Bring a stocking filled with gloves, gift cards, and other goodies to the Narragansett Beer Taproom in Providence on Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6 – 7 p.m. and receive a complimentary beer ticket for up to three beers.

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