Portsmouth nonprofits awarded grants

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Foundation will award more than $270,000 in grants to dozens of nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents, including Common Fence Music, Common Fence , and Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties. 

The grants, through the Foundation’s Newport County Fund (NCF), will underwrite a host of activities ranging from job readiness training and after-school activities to preventing relationship violence and stocking food pantries.

“From enriching arts and educational opportunities for young people to underwriting critical health and environmental programs, we are proud to work with partners that are improving lives here,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the donors who make our support possible and the local men and women who keep us closely connected to the community.”


Common Fence Music 

Common Fence Music in Portsmouth and Middletown received $10,000 for its Connecting the Beats program, which brings African and Afro-Caribbean drumming and dance to the youth of Newport County through collaborations with local youth organizations and schools, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County, the East Bay Met School in Newport; Rogers High, Thompson Middle and Pell Elementary schools in Newport, Melrose School in Jamestown, Gaudet Middle School in Middletown, Portsmouth Middle School and the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s summer camps.

“Connecting the Beats will begin its eighth season of participatory concert and workshop offerings for young people throughout Newport County. Our program offers musical training and cross-cultural education in a cooperative setting and is enthusiastically embraced by parents and teachers as well as the students themselves,” said Thomas Perrotti, the organization’s former musical director.


Common Fence Point Improvement Association

The Common Fence Point Improvement Association received $5,000 to purchase movable partitions for the new Gallery at Common Fence Point, which is located in the Common Fence Community Center.

“This is a unique and moving art experience for the Portsmouth community and its neighbors. The partitions will enable us to create classrooms and double our art programming capacity,” said Conley Zani, chair and development director.


Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties 

Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties in Portsmouth received $5,000 for staff and leadership development and training, particularly related to working with patients with behavioral health conditions such as depression and dementia as well as chronic medical disorders.

“Training that builds a culture of continuous learning and positive support coupled with accountability and expectations of excellence will directly benefit our patients and caregivers as well as staff,” said Candace Sharkey, CEO. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to collaborate with Newport County Mental Health in providing joint training.”

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.

In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. 

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