Gardens, historical signage and park equipment are among the improvements coming to four Warwick neighborhoods thanks to nearly $30,000 in grants from the Rhode Island Foundation. These projects are three of just 47 statewide to win funding from the Foundation’s competitive Community Grants Program.
The neighborhoods of Apponaug, Gaspee, Hoxsie and Pawtuxet are all in line to receive funding from this year's release of Community Grants. Funding for these projects will be available upon request from the entities that received the grant. They are projects likely to be completed within the calendar year.
“We looked for proposals that will improve the quality of life, promote collaboration and increase community engagement within a neighborhood or municipality,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments for the Rhode Island Foundation. “We gave priority to projects that will spark community engagement at the local level, be easily accessible to the community, involved new or enhance existing community partnerships, are doable, will have a meaningful impact on the community, will create lasting impact and will make exceptionally good use of the funds."
The City of Warwick received $10,000 to support the revitalization of Apponaug Village. The grant will be used to create six wayside signs that will provide direction, orientation and historical context of the village. In addition to the interpretive signs, the project includes installing site furnishings and landscape enhancements along the new village streetscape.
“This will enhance our work to promote and celebrate Apponaug’s rich history. It will also further our efforts to create a vibrant, attractive village that supports small business economic development and invites residents and tourists to return to again and again,” said Mayor Joseph J. Solomon in a press release. “I look forward to working with members of the community as we move forward with these improvements.”
The House of Hope Community Development Corporation received $9,460 to rebuild the deteriorating fence around its Shippen Avenue community garden in Hoxsie and install a new community garden at its newest affordable housing development on Fair Street in Pawtuxet.
House of Hope is working with volunteers from the URI Master Gardeners. They are in the planning stages right now and plan to finish the fence around around the community garden some time this Fall. The Fair Street garden is planned to be built by the spring of 2019. They are in the process of getting estimates and had their first meeting a couple of weeks ago.
“Community gardens engage residents through Master Gardner workshops and demonstrations," said Laura Jaworski, executive director of the House of Hope. "They also forge connections with the surrounding community, dispel myths about homelessness and teach residents how to grow healthy food and enjoy the therapeutic qualities of the garden."
In Gaspee, Friends of Salters Grove received $10,000 to support the work already in motion improving the playground at Salter Grove Memorial State Park in partnership with the City of Warwick and the state Department of Environmental Management. The grant will be used to purchase attractive, custom-designed benches and waste containers. The plans are still in the works as of right now but they plan to finish the project by Spring of 2019.
“The grant will support the installation of new playground equipment and help create a safe, accessible and attractive play and meeting space at Salter Grove to encourage outdoor recreation by families,” said Peter Becker, the coordinator of the Friends of Salter Grove.
The City of Cranston also received $10,000 to renovate the Eden Park Elementary School playground. Additional support comes from city’s parks and school departments and the Eden Park Parent Teacher Organization. The work will include installing new play surfaces and playground equipment.
“Our main priority is the kids of this community," said Tony Liberatore, Cranston's recreation department director. "Giving them and their families a place to play, build relationships and develop friendships will enhance the quality of life in this neighborhood and our city."
The funding from the Community Grants Program is supplemented by a gift from long-time Foundation donor Anne Sage.
“We’re excited about these ideas for making community happen in more and better ways at the local level. Supporting community-building will improve shared places and quality of life, promote collaboration and increase community engagement,” said David. “We’re grateful to have donors who invest in our work and partners like these that understand the needs of their community.”
According to the Rhode Island Foundation, eligible uses for the grant funding include improvements to parks and other public spaces, the creative use of art in public spaces and staging programming that invites people to experience community in public spaces. Priority is given to proposals that include community support such as matching grants, the participation of volunteers and donated space or other forms of in-kind contributions. While eligible projects may include either new initiatives or enhancements to ongoing and recurring initiatives, the grants are intended to support one-time costs and expenses. Projects will not be eligible for renewed support in future years.
Since 2016, the Rhode Island Foundation reports it has awarded more than $1.1 million total for activities in every Rhode Island city and town. According to a press release, working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.