Grant Making

Women's Fund of Rhode Island

Grant Making

Our current grant cycle is closed and is not expected to reopen until 2022.

June 12, 2020: The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI) is excited to announce financial commitments totalling $120,000 in grant funding to seven organizations over the next two years for their innovative proposals to advance gender equity and help level the playing field for women and girls in Rhode Island. $60,000 will be distributed in 2020 and the same amount in 2021. Several of the grants include a racial justice component and all are relevant to concurrent health and racial disparities.

WFRI uses social change grantmaking to advance gender equity and social justice, focus on systemic solutions and address the unique needs of women and girls.  Since its launch in 2001, the WFRI Grant Program has awarded more than $810,000 to organizations and programs in Rhode Island that empower women and girls.  This year’s grants were made possible through the generosity of donors of the WFRI. 

The grants impact a variety of gender related issues. While the gender wage and wealth gap has been extensively covered over the years and particularly for women of color, the COVID-19 crisis shines a spotlight on how these gaps impact women in the U.S.  Women disproportionately hold low wage jobs in industries with little to no paid family and sick leave, including fields that expose them to the virus, and many are unable to work in a virtual environment. Funding to RI Community & Justice, SEIU and the Center for Women and Enterprise tackle these issues.

Racial disparities in health have also been exacerbated, particularly in reproductive health. Even before the current health crisis, domestic violence was already a global pandemic. Paired with restrictions meant to protect people from catching the coronavirus, the stage is set for a growing domestic violence crisis. Funding for SistaFire, Sojourner House, RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England address these issues.

“The projects this funding supports could not have come at a better time, as the concurrent health and racial disparities crises have thrown our world into turmoil,” said Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. ‘With our two year financial commitment, we are investing in longer term impact for these programs.”

The grant recipients and awarded programs are:  

  • SISTA Fire ($20,000)- Support for reproductive justice work centered on the experience of working class womxn of color and disrupting the norms of white supremacy culture, by building a network for doulas and birthworkers of color.
  • Sojourner House ($20,000)- Support for intimate partner violence prevention education for youth, teaching about the dynamics of healthy relationships, promoting self-respect within relationships and warning signs of abusive relationships at DelSesto Middle School, Nathanael Greene Middle School and Cranston High School West.
  • RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence ($20,000)- Support for Advocates of Color Leadership Development to Advance Economic Justice Initiative, providing strategies to enhance leadership skills and professional development opportunities delivered by and designed for women of color and to increase the number of advocates of color engaged in policy advocacy related to economic justice.
  • Center for Women & Enterprise ($20,000)- Support for Spanish language entrepreneurship and business planning training.
  • SEIU Education & Support Fund ($20,000)- Support for business courses for 30 family child care providers based on the model of All Our Kin, to increase understanding by family child care providers of best business practices, improving financial practices and enhancing the efficiency of their programs.
  • Rhode Island for Community & Justice ($10,906)- Support for Young Women's Equity Council to establish a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training and mentoring program and ensure there is a cohort of women of color who are enthusiastic and qualified to fill open DEI roles right out of college.
  • Planned Parenthood of Southern New England ($9,094)- Support for the Coalition for Reproductive Freedom to focus on legislative activities related to reproductive justice, currently the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, Doula Reimbursement Act, No Co-pay for Birth Control and RI Parentage Equality Act. Note that PPSNE requested $20,000, but we did not have enough left in budget to fund their full request.

“The grant process was very competitive. 24 non-profit organizations submitted proposals for a combined request of $208,000 in funding,” said Christina Castle, WFRI Board Member and Chair of the Grant Review Team.  “Each proposal was subject to a rigorous review by a team of community volunteers with training in gender-lens giving. These programs clearly rose to the top.”


Our Grant Program

  • Launched in 2001

  • Supporting programs that empower women and girls to address gender inequity

  • More than $810,000 has been distributed to gender lens programming to date

  • Made possible by donations to Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

WFRI Grant Priorities

  • Systems change ideas that work to level the playing field for women and girls in Rhode Island 
  • Civic engagement and leadership

  • Economic self-sufficiency and justice, particularly fair/equal pay and increased/living wages

  • Women and girls health and well-being, particularly freedom and access to reproductive health and/or freedom from sexual harassment


WFRI's grant making supports systemic change.  Proposals need to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • A capacity to address root causes of problems, challenges and issues

  • Impact on societal attitudes or behaviors

  • Positive long-term change for women and girls

  • Expanded choice for women and girls

  • Empowerment of women and girls to challenge the status quo

  • Changes in policies and systems to provide full participation by women and girls

Application Only

Current funding includes a two year commitment to funded organizations, provided they use funding for the same/similar purposes, provide WFRI with periodic updates on project progress, and with the understanding that we can only provide funds if they are available. Donations are key to our ability to grant funds. A new proposal must be submitted each time a grant is requested. Previous funding does not guarantee continued funding, either for an organization or a project.

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Grant Application & Guidelines

Please download the complete application guidelines below.

Download Packet


This powerpoint gives an example of what it means to give "through a gender lens." WFRI volunteers are trained in gender lens giving concepts prior to embarking on the grant review process. The grant review team is made up of a diverse group of volunteers trained in gender lens giving. After a thorough review and discussion process, the grant review team recommends which proposals the WFRI Board should fund. The next grant review process will not begun until 2022. If you would like to be considered as a volunteer for the review process, please contact our Executive Director at

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WFRI will fund the following types of organizations:

  • Non-profit organizations and groups that demonstrate tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code 501 (c) 3
  • Groups or organizations that submit an application through a fiscal sponsor, e.g. a tax-exempt organization under IRS Code 501 (c) that agrees to accept funds on its behalf
  • Schools receiving funding from the government
  • Eligible Organizations or groups that serve women and girls in Rhode Island

Funding Restrictions

We will not fund the following:

  • Federal, state, county, and city government agencies
  • Religious organizations for religious purposes.  Although there is no restriction on funding faith-based organizations, all WFRI-funded projects /services must be secular
  • For-profit business ventures
  • Endowment or capital campaigns
  • Individuals or scholarships
  • Fundraising events or conferences
  • Debt reduction
  • Medical research
  • Campaigns to elect candidates to public office
  • Projects that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or any veteran's status.

Funded in 2019:

  • "Women in the Trades" leadership program to grow the percentage of women in the building and construction trade, promote stories of women succeeding in the trades and identifying/addressing structural barriers to women's success in the trades.- Building Futures
  • "Changing Our Tune" project to decrease the incidence of gender-based violence within the music and creative community and provide resources to survivors and community members. The project will train owners and staff of local music venues, as well as bookers/promoters, musicians, artists and audience members in sexual harassment and violence prevention. Increase creating resources to support the work.- Girls Rock
  • "Emerging Professionals Program" designed to create a leadership pipeline of women of color (the most underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged group in RI). This is the first program proposed to specifically offer a solution to the "double jeopardy" hypothesis which renders Black women "invisible" when being considered for hiring or promotion.- RI Black Business Association
  • Addressing the maternal health crisis that Black women, women of color and their children face in RI. Funds will allow SistaFire to provide leadership development training with a focus on maternal health and related systemic inequities, and engage members in participatory resource to deepen the understanding of women of color's experience in pregnancy and birth. Funding will also help to create "Perinatal Safe Spots" in RI.
  • Support for RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom to protect and advance access to reproductive health care through advocacy and legislative action.- Planned Parenthood