LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO
Making a Difference Together
Welcome to our 2022-2023 Community Impact Report. The pages that follow highlight the important, life-changing work of the past year – progress and momentum that simply would not be possible without your commitment to and support of our mission.
While our work is far from done, I recently have been reflecting on my first five years leading United Way of Rhode Island, and I am beyond proud of what we have accomplished together.
Walking into 50 Valley Street for the first time as president and CEO in September 2018, I could not imagine we would soon face a global health crisis, considerable racial justice protests, and politically charged civil unrest.
When I arrived, we were already focused on the critical issues of housing, childhood literacy, out-of-school time learning, and workforce development. Those needs would skyrocket to unprecedented levels amid the pandemic and its fallout. There was no road map. But we not only persevered, we set in motion a movement creating real, lasting change.
Together, we are building stronger families and more resilient nonprofits, which in turn lead to healthier, vibrant communities and a thriving Rhode Island for all. And here are some of the ways we’ve been doing it.
INDIGENOUS EMPOWERMENT CENTER AT THE TOMAQUAG MUSEUM
“As the Indigenous empowerment manager at the heart of the Indigenous Empowerment Center (IEC), I see my role as more than just facilitating partnerships; it’s about weaving connections that spark economic change within the Native community of Rhode Island. Our partnerships delve into the diverse fabric of our community — from the vibrant stage of theater to the grassroots of community-led initiatives, the corridors of education, and the pathways of business development and entrepreneurship. The birth of IEC wasn’t just a career move for me, but a calling, a chance to be engaged in work with a profound commitment to making a meaningful difference. Through the lens of social justice and activism, I envision a future where these partnerships not only bridge gaps but construct a bridge toward a more empowered and united community.” — Samantha Cullen-Fry
Our mission — “uniting our community and resources to build racial equity and opportunities for all Rhode Islanders” — is deep, rather than wide. It requires deliberate action and collaboration to achieve long-term changes in systems, practices, and culture throughout the state. One of the community partners that United Way of Rhode Island was pleased to work with and invest in is the Indigenous Empowerment Center (IEC) at the Tomaquag Museum.
The Indigenous Empowerment Center, a dynamic initiative established in 2016 by the Tomaquag Museum, is dedicated to transforming the landscape of the Indigenous community in Rhode Island. The IEC is not merely an institution but a catalyst for change, working tirelessly to eliminate poverty through a multifaceted approach encompassing education, cultural competency, job training, employment, small business incubation, and a commitment to social justice. As an integral part of the Tomaquag Museum, the IEC operates on the principles of mutual learning and adaptability, constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of the Indigenous community. Beyond its immediate impact, the IEC aspires to serve as a model for other culturally specific and tribal museums, demonstrating how empowerment through education, job training, and employment can create enduring, positive change.
A JOURNEY OF GIVING BACK
At the heart of FM Global’s community engagement lies a profound commitment to social responsibility, a principle vividly exemplified by Rebecca Marino, the company’s senior brand manager. Marino’s 23-year journey at FM Global highlights a seamless integration of professional excellence and dedication to community service, particularly in partnership with United Way of Rhode Island (United Way).
Marino’s involvement with United Way began in 2000, reflecting FM Global’s robust culture of encouraging its employees to engage in philanthropy. “The first United Way rally showed me how impactful donated dollars are and that every cent that I give goes right toward Rhode Islanders that need it,” Marino shares, underscoring the significant influence of corporate support in community initiatives.
Amplifying Impact: The Power of Matching Gifts
One of the keystones of FM Global’s charitable initiatives is its matching gift program. This program notably enhances the value of each donation made by employees, effectively tripling their contributions to the community. Marino is an ardent supporter of this approach, recognizing it as a powerful method to extend the reach of individual philanthropy. “FM Global makes it easy to give...
and also double matches every dollar I give to United Way,” Marino says. “It’s a no-brainer — for every $1 I give, those that need it get $3. Amazing!”
Beyond Financial Contributions: Active Community Involvement
Marino’s role in FM Global’s partnership with United Way goes beyond monetary donations. She actively participates in community events and advocates for programs that resonate with the company’s mission. This active engagement is reflective of FM Global’s holistic approach to corporate social responsibility.
Marino’s personal commitment to childhood literacy aligns with FM Global’s focus on educational initiatives, further strengthening the company’s community impact. “I have 3 sons, all of whom struggled at times with reading,” shares Marino. “Women United is an amazing group of women who all give what they can of their time and money to support literacy.” Her work with Women United and her advocacy for literacy resources represent FM Global’s ethos of supporting comprehensive community development.
Philanthropy = Change
FM Global’s collaborative efforts with United Way, championed by employees like Rebecca Marino, showcase the significant role of corporate entities in community development. FM Global has not only demonstrated its commitment to corporate giving but has also highlighted the importance of partnerships between corporations and nonprofit organizations for societal betterment.
The story of Rebecca Marino and FM Global’s collaboration with United Way of Rhode Island is an inspiring reminder of the impactful role corporations can play in community enhancement. Their enduring commitment to philanthropy and active community engagement serves as a benchmark for corporate social responsibility, illustrating how dedicated efforts can lead to substantial and meaningful change in society.
2023 LEGISLATIVE RECAP AND HIGHLIGHTS
This past year, United Way of Rhode Island intensified our commitment to drive transformative change through policy and advocacy initiatives that resonate with our mission to foster racial equity. As we reflect on the outcomes of the 2023 legislative session, noteworthy accomplishments underscore our unwavering commitment to shaping a future that is both just and prosperous for all Rhode Islanders.
Achieve United: Elevating Education Equity
Through persistent advocacy efforts, we successfully secured a $4 million state budget appropriation to support out-of-school time programs, fostering learning beyond traditional school hours and contributing to improved student outcomes.
In our commitment to expanding early education and pre-K learning programs for economically disadvantaged four-year-olds, we played a key role in obtaining $3 million in allocations that prioritize communities with high concentrations of low-performing schools.
Lift United: Strengthening Economic Opportunities
Our commitment to housing stability resulted in a $750,000 appropriation for housing rental vouchers, aligning with the state’s Opening Doors plan to combat homelessness.
To enhance Rhode Island’s workforce skills and opportunities, we advocated for and secured a $1.5 million funding allocation, specifically aimed at creating new apprenticeship and work immersion programs.
Advocate United: Driving Systemic Change
Through collaborative efforts, we successfully advocated for the establishment of Juneteenth as a state holiday, providing a platform for economic growth within Rhode Island’s Black community.
To ensure equitable treatment for Rhode Island workers, particularly those in lower wage jobs, we championed increased penalties for wage theft and employee misclassification.
OUR GRANTEE PARTNERS
Our funding supports the LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan, which guides United Way of Rhode Island’s work in four focus areas:
- Lift United: We’re investing in affordable housing, improving care coordination, expanding access to adult education and job training, and supporting the growth and stability of women- and minority-owned businesses.
- Achieve United: We’re working to ensure all Rhode Island children walk into the classroom with the tools to learn, increasing literacy levels, and expanding access to afterschool and summer learning programs.
- Invest United: We’re building nonprofit resiliency and leadership development, empowering donors, engaging corporations, and connecting Rhode Islanders with volunteer opportunities.
- Advocate United: We’re driving systemic change through public policy and research, training Rhode Islanders to be advocates, and working to increase voter turnout.
Community Impact Fund Distribution:
Workforce Development, Economic Mobility & Basic Needs
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Early Childhood & Youth Development
Summer Learning Communities
Total Funding July 2022 – June 2023: $4,466,223
letter from the board chair
Shaping the Future
It is both an honor and a privilege to serve as the board chair of United Way of Rhode Island (United Way). Alongside our dedicated boards of directors and community advisors and the exceptional team led by Cortney Nicolato, I am filled with pride in witnessing the remarkable work unfolding to shape a brighter future for all Rhode Islanders.
For nearly a century, United Way has been the catalyst, uniting nonprofits, businesses, government entities, and individuals in a harmonious symphony of collective action. Together, we have been steadfastly working towards fostering growth and equity within our communities.
Our journey, though not without its challenges, is crucial as we confront issues ranging from affordable housing and utilities, food insecurity, and disparities within our Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community, to securing high-quality education for our children, ensuring livable wages, and providing accessible healthcare. The magnitude of these challenges underscores the vital role United Way plays today, perhaps more than ever before.
Yet, in the face of these daunting challenges, I am inspired by the resilience and dedication displayed by our United Way community. It is a testament to the power of unity, the power of community. Every member, from our committed board and committee participants to our hard-working staff, generous donors, dedicated volunteers, tireless community advocates, and partners in government, business, labor, and the nonprofit sector, contributes to the momentum of positive change.
Together, we are not just addressing the needs of our communities; we are actively shaping a future where those needs are met with compassion, innovation, and determination. The journey may be demanding, but our collective impact is profound.
As we express our sincere gratitude for your unwavering support, we do so with great excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead. With your continued commitment, we are poised to accomplish even greater feats, transforming challenges into opportunities and weaving a tapestry of positive change throughout Rhode Island.
Thank you for being an integral part of this incredible journey.
Dolph Johnson, Board Chair
ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN RHODE ISLAND
The core of the mission of House of Hope is simple: They are ending homelessness in Rhode Island. The homelessness crisis is constant and disturbing. Data released this past spring revealed that as of April 29, 2023, 326 individuals were living unsheltered (on the street, in cars, in encampments, in other places not meant for human habitation). 1,252 individuals were on the statewide shelter waiting list and 1,000 individuals were living in emergency shelters — and that was in the mild season of spring.
House of Hope stands as a beacon of hope and resilience, embodying the unwavering commitment to community well-being. Here at United Way of Rhode Island (United Way), it is our privilege to spotlight an organization that epitomizes the transformative impact that collaborative efforts can have on the lives of those in need. House of Hope, with its dedication to providing shelter, support, and empowerment, serves as a testament to the strength that emerges when a community comes together to uplift its most vulnerable members.
In supporting House of Hope, United Way reaffirms our profound belief in the power of local initiatives to bring about positive change. The strategic investment in House of Hope reflects a commitment to addressing the root causes of homelessness, fostering resilience, and enabling individuals and families to rebuild their lives. By funding such an organization, United Way not only fulfills our mission to improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders but also contributes to the creation of a stronger, more compassionate community. As we navigate the intricate tapestry of challenges faced by our neighbors, the collaboration between United Way and House of Hope stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating a path towards a brighter, more equitable future for all.
From July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023 (audited results)
Use of Resources: $21,526,921
* Established by Textron founder Royal Little in 1937 to benefit our United Way. Managed by the Rhode Island Foundation.
When you support United Way of Rhode Island, you support more than one issue or program - you join a movement for change.
The work of the United Way of Rhode Island is made possible by the incredible network of donors, volunteers and partners on the following pages. We are grateful for their generosity.