Champlin’s $19M in grants a huge boost for 201 agencies


For some, it means a roof without leaks; for others, it’s radio receivers, updated computers and a pair of mini buses.

The list of what almost $19 million in Champlin Foundations grants will accomplish is long and impressive.

How 201 non-profits will spend the money differs, but it can be said most of the projects wouldn’t get done, or would be accomplished over a much longer period, if it wasn’t for the foresight of a Warwick industrialist and his sisters.

George S. Champlin, who died in 1980 at the age of 98, founded the first of the foundations in 1932 with Florence Champlin Hamilton and Hope Champlin Neaves. Since then, more than 900 charities have received nearly $480 million in grants.

Last week, the foundations announced the annual list of recipients. The agencies and non-profits receiving the awards were notified about two weeks ago, so there has been a level of excitement on the street.

“There were a lot of good applications,” said Keith Lang, executive director of the foundations. He said that there were 404 applications and that generally, Champlin awards are about a third of the total of the requests.

Lang said the foundations look to “make the biggest impact we can.” He said that has become increasingly difficult as matching grant opportunities are disappearing.

Lang placed the Champlin endowments at about $400 million, of which “we are required to give away 5 percent.” The endowment has remained relatively consistent despite market fluctuations.

“Our goal is to be as predictable as we can be,” he said.

Last year, Champlin awarded approximately $19 million in grants.

Eleven Warwick entities will receive grants, with the largest being $550,000 to Kent Hospital for furnishing and equipping the 10-bed short stay unit at the ambulatory service center under construction and scheduled to open next fall.

But the amount of a grant needn’t be anywhere as big to have a profound impact. The Rhode Island Academic Decathlon, which holds an annual academic competition for all high schools in the state, received $4,000 to upgrade its computers and scoring system. The money will be used to buy printers and two laptops, replacing units that are now at least 10 years old. The grant will also be used to initiate, on a test basis, a system of recording judge scores so as to identify early in the scoring system of the essay component when a third read is necessary.

Other Warwick institutions on the list include the Gaspee Days Committee, the Community College of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership, Winman Junior High School, the Warwick Library, In Sight, the Trudeau Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Warwick and the Warwick Police Athletic League (PAL).

The largest number of grants made this year is under the youth/fitness sector, with 43 grants totaling $2.8 million. Of the amount, Boys and Girls Clubs were awarded $105,520 that will be used to acquire two mini-buses and to fund camperships. Warwick PAL will use its $6,675 for improvements to its building on Bend Street.

The foundations have long supported libraries and this year 34 libraries will receive nearly $3 million. The money will be used for projects ranging from security systems to building renovations to computer upgrades.

Warwick Library will get $108,000 to create a “smart tech” computer and meeting room and remodel the Children’s Library.

“I’ve worked in four states,” said library director Diane Greenwald, “and no state has a foundation so generous to libraries.”

She said that since 1996, Champlin has given Warwick Library $2.5 million that has been used for numerous projects from building the teen room to installing self-checkout systems, a new book area and audio and video computer space.

“Without them we would be sliding backwards,” she said of Champlin. “They really believe strongly in the educational component of libraries.”

Greenwald said the latest grant would be used to transform the café into an area to hold smart tech computer classes with the use of a Smart Board. It will also provide a space for meetings that require technological support. She said acquisition of a 3-D printer is being explored.

As for the Children’s Library, Greenwald said, the library is looking at the addition of interactive devices aimed at helping children get ready to learn how to read.

Winman Junior High School will use $64,580 to acquire aerobic and strength training equipment for the physical education department.

Rick Cirelli, Winman physical education teacher, said he and co-teachers Amy Bayha and Matthew Acciaioli sought the grant that will be used to equip a fitness center at the school. The objective is to get students to start thinking now of a fitness plan that they will use for the rest of their lives. Students will be able to experience using such equipment as weight lifting machines, treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals.

“They say the mind is a terrible thing to waste, so is the rest of the body,” he said.

The Mentoring Partnership, with offices on Post Road across from City Hall, will use its $52,000 award to make fire code improvements to the building and repair a leaky roof.

“This means we are able to replace our roof so our CEO doesn’t have to cover her desk with a tarp every time it rains,” said President and COO Jo-Anne Schofield.

“It wouldn’t happen without their support, it couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” she added.

The Gaspee Days Committee is also planning building repairs and upgrades with the $10,955 it received. The work will be done to the Aspray Boat House in Pawtuxet Village.

Although it won’t go for equipment in Warwick, the Community College of Rhode Island is receiving $121,040. The money will be used to replace outdated equipment in the Clinical Training Laboratory and in chemistry labs at the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln.

In Sight that serves the blind will use $21,650 to purchase radio receivers for use by listeners of “INSIGHT” Radio.

And the Trudeau Center will use $35,100 to acquire technical equipment to assist autistic students.


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