Local groups win grants to boost Woonsocket’s Census participation


Local groups can still apply for at least $125,000 in funding by Jan. 31.


WOONSOCKET, RI - Three Woonsocket organizations have won grants to encourage residents to participate in the 2020 Census. The goal is to protect the roughly $3.8 billion a year that Rhode Island receives in federal funding for education, health care, housing and more based on Census data.


“These Census outreach grants are an essential tool to build the grassroots effort that will help us achieve our goal of ensuring that every Rhode Islander is counted,” said state Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, who co-chairs Rhode Island’s Complete Count Committee. “The work to ensure that every community in every ZIP code in Rhode Island is fairly and accurately represented must be community led.”


NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV) received $18,000. It will focus on the Fairmount, Constitution Hill and Main Street neighborhoods, which have more than 4,000 households.


“We’ve worked in our target neighborhoods for over 30 years and are counting on our personal relationships with many neighbors and community institutions to help boost our area’s response rate significantly,” Joe Garlick, executive director


NWBRV plans to contact residents of its affordable housing developments during the spring and summer, to include Census information as it conducts its tri-annual ‘Community Impact Measurement Survey,” to allow residents without access to the internet to complete Census forms on-line in its Homeownership Center on Front Street and to distribute information and provide on-line access at its 10-week “Levitt Amp” free concert series in River Island Art Park this summer.


“All of our work in these neighborhoods would not have been possible without the federal resources that flow into Woonsocket because of the Census,” said Garlick.


The Museum of Work & Culture received $2,500 to become a Census hub in the city of Woonsocket. The organization will provide free access to a dedicated computer and trained staff so community members are able to complete the 2020 Census.


"As a history museum that tells the story of immigration we understand how important it is to ensure that all of our community members have the opportunity to be counted. This grant will allow us to do our part in continuing to ensure that the story of the people of Woonsocket is told," said Museum Director Anne Conway.


Thundermist Health Center received $15,000 for outreach and education to the LGBTQ+ community via its Rainbow Wellness events and to residents of Woonsocket during on-site appointments and via social and digital media.


“Thundermist Health Center has a proven track record of helping patients overcome barriers to accessing health care. We will use these same tactics to help ensure every Rhode Islander is counted in the next Census,” said Jeanne LaChance, president/CEO.


“An accurate count is important to ensure funding is available to provide the resources and services that are vital for our patients,” she said.

The three organizations are among 26 groups that received funding from the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund. The focus is on increasing the Census response rates of populations that have been historically undercounted and are vulnerable to an undercount in 2020. 


There is still at least $125,000 in funding available. Rhode Island-based nonprofit organizations, municipal governments, public agencies like libraries or schools; houses of worship and community-based groups have until Fri., Jan. 31, to apply. More information is posted at rifoundation.org/censusgrants.


Donors to the Fund include local philanthropist Bhikhaji Maneckji, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, the Nellie Mae Foundation, the Service Employees International Union 1199 New England, the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Foundation administers the initiative working in partnership with Rhode Island’s Complete Count Committee.  


“Grassroots organizations realize how crucial it is to engage their communities on the Census and they went all in on the first round. The volume and quality of the responses made for a very difficult review and selection process,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments at the Foundation.


“We’re grateful to the funding partners who are supporting this effort, and to the many local groups who will do the on-the-ground organizing in order to turn out their communities in 2020,” she said. 




Remember Bid on the Phone but watch here:  LIVE on O-N TV