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Neil Steinberg: 12 Who Made a Difference in RI in 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

 

Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg was out in front on several important statewide initiatives in 2012. Photo: RI Foundation.

It's not enough to lead on philanthropy. You've got to innovate, and with Neil Steinberg's vision at the helm, The Rhode Island Foundation demonstrated just that in 2012 with two new and exciting initiatives.

United Providence

Where better to innovate than in public education? Steinberg's RI Foundation recognized the boldness of United Providence (UP!), a unique labor-management compact between the Providence Public School District and the Providence Teachers Union first conceived by PTU President Steven Smith, and Superinetendents Thomas Brady and Dr. Susan F. Lusi. The non-profit partnership has targeted intervention for 3 struggling Providence schools, but it was the RI Foundation's $100,000 grant that will make UP! capable of realizing its creative and ambitious goals.

Steinberg called the partnership "an important step for Providence schools," and Smith welcomes the support of the Foundation. “We firmly believe in this model and have long advocated for a strong labor-management partnership. We look forward to the success of United Providence, with the hope of replicating this model throughout the district.”

Innovation Fellowships

Also in 2012, the RI Foundation awarded its first ever "Innovation Fellowships"--grants of $100,000 a year for up to three years to two individuals who will "develop, test, and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve any area of life in Rhode Island." The first grants were awarded in March to Allan Tear to use new and existing national and local partnerships to “ignite an explosion of new ventures in Rhode Island's unique but under-leveraged economic clusters," and to Soren Ryherd to establish "sustainable brick and mortar retail stores in Rhode Island by first creating them as profitable online businesses."

Harnessing the vision and funding of donors Letitia and John Carter, Steinberg set a course that he feels is unique in the world of philanthropy and foundations. "We are thrilled that Letitia and John asked the Foundation to develop and implement this new program that we hope will fuel discovery, passion, and a pioneering spirit,” Steinberg said. “This Fellowship is about Rhode Island reaching its true potential. To our knowledge, nothing like this has ever been tried in our state. It’s new territory but we are convinced that risk taking will be essential and failure is infinitely better than not trying.”

Risk taking for Rhode Island--a true vision and the clout to make it happen.
 

 

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