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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 proposal (RFPs) and apply for grants, visit our grantmaking portal.

United Way of Rhode Island supports a diverse set of grantee partners across our program areas. See examples of recent grantees here.

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

We will be releasing a multiyear RFP for our Community Impact Fund later this fall. If you want to be notified when the RFP is released, email Millicent Budlong-Springer at millicent.springer@unitedwayri.org.

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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.

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Rethinking how one of R.I.’s largest nonprofits can grow

The Boston Globe

In October, [Idrees "Lanre"] Ajakaiye was appointed the new chief development officer at... United Way of Rhode Island where he'll be in charge of helping... United Way achieve its current strategic plan, which outlines the nonprofit's investment of $100 million over five years to help achieve racial equity.

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THE PROVIDENCE CITY COUNCIL gave the second and final approval on Wednesday to a $10 million spending plan for racial reparations. / PBN FILE PHOTO/CHRIS BERGENHEIM

City Council gives final approval to $10M reparations budget

Providence Business News

A two-yearslong effort to bring racial reparations to Providence achieved a milestone Wednesday... The approved funding largely mirrors recommendations set forth by a city panel based on community input, but with one major change that shifts some money into a COVID-19 Equity Fund to be managed by United Way of Rhode Island.

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How you can save money amidst Rhode Island Energy rate hike

ABC6

With rates rising starting Oct. 1, Rhode Islanders have many ways to save money and energy this fall... [For] anyone... need[ing]... financial assistance... United Way of Rhode Island’s 211 service may help... 'We’re here to help the community navigate resources,' said Courtney Smith, director of... 211... The service is available online at 211 United Way of Rhode Island or over the phone.

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New Survey of R.I. Nonprofits Highlights Dire Need

As Rhode Islanders… prepare to participate in Giving Tuesday, the results of a new survey paint a stark picture of the challenges facing the state’s nonprofit sector. Local community-based organizations continue to provide services for communities still facing pandemic-level needs, while facing inflation-driven costs and inadequate staffing caused by the physical and emotional toll of the last two years.

United Way of Rhode Island Appoints Four to Its Board of Directors

Four community leaders have been appointed to the United Way of Rhode Island Board of Directors… Elected for three-year terms are David Bonenberger, president, Rhode Island Energy/PPL Corporation; Anthony Botelho, senior vice president, team leader, Washington Trust; Courtney Hawkins, health and human services industry executive, Salesforce; and Yahaira “Jay” Placencia, senior vice president, private client advisor, Bank of America.

I. Lanre Ajakaiye Joins United Way of R.I. as Chief Development Officer

Following a broad, competitive search for its chief development officer, United Way of Rhode Island has hired a community leader known to be an innovative changemaker. The organization has chosen Idrees “Lanre” Ajakaiye, who brings a deep, diverse range of experience to United Way’s work to transform the future by building racial equity and creating opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

UPCOMING EVENTS

401Gives Open House

Join us for a 401Gives Open House on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Rhode Island College. Learn about Rhode Island's statewide day of giving and how your fabulous nonprofit can be a part of it.

Information sessions will be held at 4:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.

This event is free and open to the public.

REGISTER

The State of the RI Nonprofit Sector

Join United Way of Rhode Island and Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island for a virtual conversation about The State of the RI Nonprofit Sector on Friday, Dec. 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Together, we'll explore the challenges facing Rhode Island nonprofits. We'll also discuss opportunities to build capacity and support nonprofit work in 2023.

This event is free and open to the public.

REGISTER