Since 1932, the foundation has awarded nearly $600 million.
Champlin’s investment in Rhode Island’s nonprofit community for the past nine decades has been almost entirely for capital projects. These investments have enabled better medical care, improved educational outcomes, expanded access to social services, fostered economic impact, conserved open space, preserved historic buildings, cultivated creativity and artistic expression, safeguarded care for animals and more.
And it all started with Stanton B. Champlin. Champlin was only twelve years old when he ran away from his family farm in South Kingstown, RI. It was 1838 and he was shoeless and alone. A grocer on Dorrance Street in Providence took pity on the boy and let him sleep in the back room of his store.
That simple act of kindness started a journey that would span generations and create a legacy of generosity that would improve the lives of untold thousands.
The boy would become a jeweler’s apprentice and years later would establish the S.B. Champlin Company. It would grow beyond jewelry and become an industrial enterprise that expanded into the manufacturing of aluminum, copper and brass tube, jewelry wire, valves, hand trucks, pipe fittings and hand pumps.
Through the leadership of Champlin, his son, George Byron Champlin, and grandson, George Stanton Champlin, this vast conglomerate became a powerful economic engine that employed thousands and helped drive the economy of Rhode Island and the nation.
And while the businesses were retired, the wealth has remained intact in service of Rhode Island thanks to the creation of the first of the family’s philanthropic foundations in 1932 by the runaway’s grandchildren.
From the first gift of $50 to Rhode Island Hospital in 1933 to buy eyeglasses for the needy to the preservation of thousands of acres of wilderness to the distribution of millions of dollars to support social services—it is humbling to think of how that simple act of kindness by a grocer has been multiplied a million-fold.
Members of the Distribution Committee
When he established the foundation, George S. Champlin recognized the importance of enlisting the perspective and experience of the community when determining grants. He developed a blueprint to form a committee that would ensure the continued work of the foundation in perpetuity. Today, the Champlin Foundation Distribution Committee meets throughout the year and works closely with the executive staff in its evaluation process. As directed by the founding trust documents, the Committee is made up of eleven members – five appointed by the committee, three appointed by the Trustee, and one each by the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the United States Federal Court, District of Rhode Island, and the President of Brown University.
The Trustee of The Champlin Foundation is the PNC Delaware Trust Company. As the Trustee, it brings an extensive array of professional advisors to address all aspects of the management and administration of the foundation, in compliance with the terms of the governing document and the wishes of the Champlin family. An affiliated entity, Hawthorn, PNC Family Wealth serves as the Investment Advisor to the foundation.
Members of the Executive Staff
Reading the Champlin annual reports provides details on the funding within each area of focus on an annual basis and the foundation’s work to enable hundreds of non-profit organizations in Rhode Island advance their mission and serve the public.