Rhode Island Small Business Grants – The announcement caps a six-month process of rigorous research and public input to identify “big ideas” that have long-term benefits, especially for those most affected by the pandemic, to guide decision-making by heads of state.
The Rhode Island Foundation today announced $1.1 billion in spending recommendations. The announcement comes after the Foundation and its partners completed six months of research and public input on the Make It Happen: Investing for Rhode Island’s Future project, which researched and analyzed options for spending federal COVID-19 recovery funds over the next three years.
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“This massive infusion of federal funding gives leaders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to positively change the state’s direction and focus on pre-existing challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.” The recommendations we made in Make It Happen: Investing in Rhode Island’s Future can rightfully address decades-old challenges, benefit all Rhode Islanders, and especially help those most affected by COVID -19. – Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Foundation
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The recommendations were developed with the support of the Economic Progress Institute (EPI), the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC), strong public input and a diverse 15-member steering committee, guided by guiding principles that focused on equity, sustainability , impact and process.
The findings will be shared with Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island General Assembly to inform their decisions.
“I thank the Rhode Island Foundation and its partners for contributing these recommendations to the public dialogue,” said Governor Dan McKee. “As Rhode Island emerges from a once-in-a-century public health crisis, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more resilient, prosperous and just state for all.” We will carefully consider the recommendations made by the Foundation and evaluate them against the 2030 agenda, the policy framework recently announced by our administration.
“Thank you to Neil Steinberg and the Rhode Island Foundation for their leadership efforts and collaboration with so many talented professionals to develop insightful proposals on how best to invest these federal funds.” The House and Senate Finance Committees will carefully review all proposals in a very public and transparent manner as we ensure our state makes the right investments for a brighter future.
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The report recommends investments in six key areas: housing, behavioral health, workforce development, small business, neighborhood funds and emergency assistance.
“Appropriate use of these funds over the time allowed can make a difference in the lives of many Rhode Islanders.” And the allocation of funds is only the first step. Planning and implementation, capacity and maintenance are critical to success,” said Steinberg.
Public input includes about 400 ideas submitted by the public via email. mail, stakeholder interviews with more than 140 people, five focus groups with Rhode Islanders from communities hardest hit by COVID, and 11 community visioning sessions led by nonprofits across the state.
“The work that this very diverse steering committee has done together, respecting each other’s opinions and ideas and building consensus, has been impressive and important,” Steinberg said. “Also, while there were some discussions, they really listened to each other and learned from each other, carefully considering values and priorities and taking into account the needs/ideas of all our communities.”
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Both EPI and RIPEC have contributed policy analysis and extensive research and data collection efforts to do so, contracting the Foundation last spring to help make this happen. RIPEC is a public policy research organization focused on fiscally responsible government and competitive tax policy. EPI is a nonprofit research and policy organization focused on the impact of economic policy on low- and low-income Rhode Islanders.
“RIPEC greatly appreciates the opportunity to work with the Institute for Economic Progress and the Rhode Island Foundation and a distinguished and diverse group of steering committee members in formulating recommendations for these once-in-a-generation federal funds,” said Michael DiBiase. , President and CEO of RIPEC. “The recommendations recognize the one-time nature of these funds by making bold and comprehensive investments in critical areas that will fundamentally improve the quality of life in our state.”
“It was a refreshing process. We appreciate working with the Foundation and RIPEC, and especially with the Steering Committee, which is made up of people with diverse backgrounds and passions,” said Linda Katz, EPI Founder and Director of Policy. “We are satisfied that justice has focused on the work and recommendations of the commission. We hope this process serves as an example of how we can work together to plan and implement the investments and policies needed to ensure the economic well-being of all Rhode Islanders.
The Make it Happen report does not review or make recommendations on how to use other ARPA funding packages, such as 542 million dollars. USD for local cities and towns, 400 million. $168 million for K-12 education. million capital projects.
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“Cities and the state must cooperate and coordinate the use of funds so that their residents achieve the best results. Similarly, although each recommendation area covers a distinct component of need, the areas are interrelated,” Steinberg said. “Certainly there should be opportunities to maximize and leverage these additional interrelated investments in conjunction with our recommendations.”
The goals and recommendations address Rhode Island’s decades-long severe housing shortage, particularly for people with low to moderate incomes.
OBJECTIVES: Provide at least 5,150 units of affordable housing for Rhode Islanders by investing in affordable rental housing, permanent supportive housing and home ownership opportunities; lead correction ink at least 2850 units; and renovate and/or repair code violations in at least 4,000 homes.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Invest USD 50 million to build 500 permanent supportive housing units and provide temporary housing for target populations.
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RECOMMENDATION 3: Invest $50 million to expand first-time buyer programs to increase homeownership opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) residents and/or areas disproportionately affected by COVID -19.
RECOMMENDATION 4: Invest $100 million in healthy home repairs, including lead paint remediation and helping low-income and qualified homeowners renovate substandard homes to fit those in the code.
RECOMMENDATION 5: Invest USD 5 million to develop a strategic plan and improve capacity and accelerate the processing of housing projects funded by ARPA.
The goals and recommendations address the well-documented and ongoing epidemic among those struggling with mental health and substance abuse challenges.
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OBJECTIVES: Reduce emergency department visits for acute behavioral health crises in children and adults by 20 percent; reduce accidental opioid overdoses and suicides by 15 percent each; increase the number of RI-licensed mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists to reach the behavioral health professional average in New England.
RECOMMENDATION 1: Invest $170 million to build new facilities, renovate and upgrade existing facilities to expand and improve services and treatments across the behavioral health care continuum.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Invest $50 million in technology infrastructure, including electronic medical records and other non-infrastructure infrastructure, including one-time investments in mobile response and stabilization services, and technologies that can increase the availability and accessibility of telemedicine.
RECOMMENDATION 3: Invest $30 million to increase provider capacity through a loan forgiveness program and grants/awards to recruit and retain behavioral health professionals. The program should target the BIPOC population to create a culturally and linguistically diverse behavioral health workforce.
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RECOMMENDATION 4: Invest $5 million to complete a strategic plan for the behavioral health care system for adults and children.
The following goals and recommendations are intended to address the fact that businesses of all sizes in Rhode Island are experiencing labor shortages, while many residents remain unemployed or underemployed and face barriers to employment, such as a lack of affordable child care .
OBJECTIVES: Provide 15,000 Rhode Islanders with high quality jobs through quality training, adult education, workforce skills development services and removing barriers to employment.
RECOMMENDATION 1: invest $150 million in high-quality, earn-and-learn job training programs that lead to promotion, certification, academic certification, and/or higher wages.
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RECOMMENDATION 2: invest USD 30 million in high-quality, accessible adult education/key workforce skills, including English, literacy and digital skills.
RECOMMENDATION 3: Invest $15 million over one year to continue and expand the RI Reconnect initiative, which helps individuals reduce barriers to training or employment.
RECOMMENDATION 4: Invest $10 million in improving the IT data structure of the state’s longitudinal data system and support a plan for the long-term sustainability of that system.
The goals and recommendations recognize that small businesses, the backbone of Rhode Island’s economy, need significant additional support to sustain and grow their businesses.
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OBJECTIVES: Provide substantial financial assistance to at least 2,250 minority-owned small businesses through forgivable loans, low-interest loans and grants.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Invest USD 35 million to provide technical assistance to small businesses through one-time grants for business services through the newly established Business Resource Network.
RECOMMENDATION 3: Invest $10 million to create a new Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) or increase the capacity of one or more existing CDFIs to finance projects in disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods in Rhode Island .