Nov 27, 2023

CRANSTON, R.I. – The Champlin Foundation announced today $10 million in capital funding to 93 Rhode Island based nonprofit organizations, for a 2023 funding total of nearly $18 million. From Woonsocket to Peace Dale to Newport, 24 communities statewide will be served with these grants, which will be used to restore historic properties, expand facilities, improve safety, and enhance outreach capabilities.

While longtime grantees like Girl Scouts and YMCAs statewide continue to put Champlin funding to good use, the Foundation also provides support to a robust group of small nonprofits that make an outsized difference in the communities they serve.

“Rhode Island nonprofits are incredibly creative when it comes to doing more with less and providing excellent service and support despite having very limited staff or, in some cases, an entirely volunteer-led operation,” said Nina Stack, executive director of The Champlin Foundation. “It is always impressive to see how many of these small teams are doing essential work, serving the urgent needs and addressing the wellbeing of Rhode Islanders in innovative and impactful ways.”

Champlin’s nine areas of focus are arts and culture, conservation and parks, education, healthcare, historic preservation and heritage, libraries, social services, welfare of animals, and youth services. Examples of nonprofits that are small but strong can be found in nearly every category, including Rhode Island Black Storytellers in arts and culture, Rhode Island Women in the Trades in education, and the MS Dream Center in social services.

Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS), which operates out of the Southside Cultural Center in Providence, is a first-time Champlin applicant whose ranks of 35+ storytellers have reached more than 120,000 students across the state. Their $21,872 grant will be used to purchase video production and online streaming equipment.

“At a moment when Black history and Black culture is at risk of being erased from our schools and history books, we must lift up the stories of Black people and communities in a way that empowers young people of color and builds connections with the broader community,” said Executive Director Valerie Tutson. “Through a culturally based storytelling training program, we are developing the next generation of Black storytellers and sending them out across Rhode Island to enhance cultural awareness and increase empathy, respect, and appreciation through performance, history, arts, and education. With this funding, we will enhance our video recording and streaming capability so we can bring Black stories and storytellers into more homes, schools, and communities, via our annual FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling, which will take place Jan 19-Feb 3, 2024, and into the future. It is a wonderful way to mix the most ancient ways of telling stories with modern technology to reach a wider ‘village’.”

Rhode Island Women in the Trades, which leases space at the Joslin Recreation Center and John Hope Settlement House in Providence, is another first-time applicant. They provide pre-apprenticeship training through workshops and projects leading to opportunities for women and girls to enter the construction industry. They will purchase tools for training with a $24,071 grant.

“Construction is facing a critical workforce shortage. The industry will only survive and evolve if we foster a more diverse talent pipeline into the profession and make construction a more welcoming and inclusive place for women and underrepresented groups,” said CEO Anita Bruno. “Construction offers good paying jobs and meaningful career pathways, and through rigorous training and hands-on support, we are opening the door for more women to consider a future in the industry.”

The dedicated team at the MS Dream Center, based in Warwick, provides a place of connection and support for people with multiple sclerosis and their families, and offers a wide range of programs, free of charge, from fitness and reiki to classes on art, brain development, and meditation. The Center, which recently moved to a new location, will receive $17,360 toward space upgrades including plumbing and electrical needs.

“What started as a labor of love for me and my family has grown into a much bigger family—a community of neighbors affected by multiple sclerosis that provides comfort, support, and understanding as we battle this disease together,” said Executive Director Marie Perna, who was diagnosed with MS in 1998. “I am so grateful for the members and volunteers who make our space so vibrant and inclusive, and our members throughout the United States and Canada that we’re blessed to know and provide services to through our virtual programming. I look forward to our continued growth in meeting the physical, mental, and social-emotional needs of those around the world with multiple sclerosis.”

Eleven of the organizations receiving funding in this cycle are first-time Champlin grantees, at a time when the Foundation continues to increase outreach and seeks to make its processes more streamlined and accessible. In the past two years, Champlin successfully transitioned to an online application portal and shifted to a twice-a-year grant distribution cycle—meaningful organizational changes made possible with the support of the Distribution Committee.

The Foundation’s Distribution Committee has had a change this year with Linda Newton stepping down and Marie Ghazal stepping in. Ghazal recently retired as the CEO of the Rhode Island Free Clinic.

“With wisdom and passion, Linda helped us to see the world differently. She helped guide The Champlin Foundation to recognize how it can better serve the people of our state—all the people of our state,” said Stack. “Linda’s departure is certainly a loss, but we feel quite fortunate to have Marie joining the Committee, bringing her years of healthcare experience to our work.”

The Committee also elected a new slate of officers for 2024. Ted Wetherill will step down as Chair after three terms. Dione Kenyon will serve as Chair, Judge Edward Clifton as Vice Chair, and Dr. Jose Polanco as Secretary.

In addition to the Distribution Committee changes, the Foundation also recognized the retirement of longtime Director of Grant Administration Tim Gorham, who has been with the Foundation for 24 years. Stack stated “Tim and his family’s connection to George Champlin and the Foundation spans a century. Throughout his time, Tim’s contribution to the work of Champlin is truly unprecedented, having considered untold numbers of grant requests, making thousands of visits to hundreds of organizations, and distributing funding across Rhode Island. It is quite remarkable.”


About The Champlin Foundation: Since 1932, The Champlin Foundation has awarded more than $665 million to fund capital projects for Rhode Island nonprofit organizations. Its nine areas of focus cover Arts & Culture, Conservation & Parks, Education, Healthcare, Historic Preservation & Heritage, Libraries, Social Services, Welfare of Animals, and Youth Services. For more information visit