Jan 5, 2022

Dear Friends,

As we approach two years since the start of the pandemic, I have been reflecting quite a bit on what has changed in that time. Our economy has been shaken, democracy tested, public health threatened, and our nation faced a long overdue reckoning on systemic racism and generations of racial inequity. Throughout the nonprofit community in Rhode Island, you have been challenged, called upon to fill the gaps exacerbated by COVID while maintaining regular services, all with limited staff and resources.

I see the toll that these two difficult years have taken, but our nonprofit community continues to meet these unprecedented challenges with unmatched resilience. You innovated in the face of adversity, and thanks to your perseverance, we are now starting to see the hopeful glimpses of a return to pre-pandemic priorities.

So much has happened, so much has changed, and yet so many opportunities lie ahead. We see evidence of this opportunity across the 203 projects and equipment we funded in 2021, totaling $19 million in capital investment. It almost feels ironic that in these moments when we were forced to stay apart physically, we at The Champlin Foundation have never felt closer to your work, forging connection at a time of disconnection.

I want to thank you for your openness and willingness to let that connection take root. Informed by your feedback we have worked with intention to expand the way Champlin engages with Rhode Island nonprofits. On virtual site visits, in surveys, and in our day-to-day conversations, you have helped us to become a more responsive organization. We have streamlined our application processes, increased opportunities for conversation and engagement, and most importantly, with the support, vision, and leadership of our Distribution Committee, have been more deliberately equitable in our grantmaking. Our revised grant application and evaluation process allows us to understand and consider how applicants are serving historically marginalized communities in our state and how these organizations are advancing diversity and inclusion within their own operations and governance.

Moving forward, our small and devoted team strives to work in deeper relationship with the state’s nonprofits—both existing grantees and those new to our network—to prioritize listening and learning, especially with those organizations led by and serving communities of color. Our approach is grounded in respect, honesty, and humility—values that we hope will foster long-term relationships of mutual trust with organizations and communities.

We recognize that this is an iterative, ongoing process. We value transparency and we will continue to make clear and accessible information about how we work, how we make decisions, and the principles that guide the foundation. We will continue to listen, learn, and evolve, just as you demonstrate for us in your collective wisdom and leadership.

That leadership is on display in the many inspiring collaborations happening throughout the community. We had the good fortune to support connections like the Manton Avenue Project and Movement Education Outdoors sharing transportation. Connections in the arts, like Wilbury Theatre building a performance space within the WaterFire Arts Center. And connections in health care, like Newport Mental Health and CODAC working together to expand primary care services.

These partnerships may never have happened if not for the pandemic, reinforcing that even in the most challenging circumstances, we have the power to drive change. That even when things feel hopeless, there is hope to be found in the people and organizations that make Rhode Island the place of beauty, innovation, and compassion that we at The Champlin Foundation have the privilege to see each day.

With deep appreciation for all you do, and with hope for a brighter new year,

Nina Stack
Executive Director
The Champlin Foundation

Look for The Champlin Foundation 2021 Annual Report on our website this spring. While you are there, you can subscribe to receive occasional emails with news and updates from the Foundation.