Rohode Island

The Rhode Island Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2015 Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship, an annual program to stimulate solutions to the state’s challenges.

Made possible through the vision and generosity of philanthropists Letitia and John Carter, the program will award two applicants up to $300,000 over three years to develop, test and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve any area of life in Rhode Island.

“This initiative enhances Rhode Island’s reputation as a place of innovation and ingenuity. Letitia and John Carter are to be applauded for having the vision to invest in encouraging bold thinkers to bring their ideas to life,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

Preference will be given to proposals that promise the greatest good for the greatest number of Rhode Islanders, a small idea that has big potential to be built to scale or new approaches to long-standing, intractable challenges.

“Letitia and I strongly believe in the potential of creative thinking and exceptional originality to power Rhode Island’s growth. We are excited to see the proposals that this platform for change generates,” said John Carter.

Although applicants do not have to be residents of Rhode Island when they apply, they must commit to living in Rhode Island during the term of the Fellowship if selected.

The deadline to apply is Fri., Dec. 12. The one-page, initial application asks applicants to summarize their proposed innovation in no more than 150 words and to describe how it would benefit Rhode Islanders.

In February 2015, the selection panel will ask a group of semi-finalists to submit a more detailed application and a short video. The Foundation expects to announce the winners in April.

Steinberg will chair the selection committee. The other members are Patricia Flanagan, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Clinical Affairs, Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Ted Nesi, Political and Economic Reporter, WPRI; Lisa Utman Randall, Executive Director, Jamestown Arts Center; Dan Shedd, President, Taylor Box Company; Rosanne Somerson, Interim President, Rhode Island School of Design; and Don Stanford, Chief Innovation Officer, GTECH.

This will be the fourth round of funding. Previous rounds generated more than 900 applications. Soren Ryherd and Allan Tear received the inaugural Fellowships in 2012.

Ryherd’s “The Retail Project” has created three on-line stores to date, with the goal of opening brick and mortar stores in Rhode Island neighborhoods.

Tear's "RallyRI" initiative is building platforms to help entrepreneurs launch start-ups in sectors such as art and design, food and beverage and advanced manufacturing.

The 2013 Fellows are Adrienne Gagnon and Dr. Lynn Taylor.

Gagnon’s “Innovation by Design” proposal will help foster the next generation of Rhode Island innovators by sending out mobile design labs to school yards throughout Rhode Island in order to engage students in free, hands-on design programs that will improve our communities.

Taylor’s project, “Rhode Island Defeats Hep C,” aims to make Rhode Island the first state to eradicate the Hepatitis C virus infection using a comprehensive approach that includes increasing awareness, rapid testing, linkage to health care, building infrastructure for a sustainable model and evaluation.

The 2014 Fellows are Amy Bernhardt and David Dadekian.

Bernhardt’s project, "Colorfast," will create a state-of-the-art research and manufacturing pilot facility for the design and production of digitally printed textiles.

Dadekian’s project, the "Eat Drink Rhode Island Central Market," would house a number of food and drink related businesses, including a public market, commercial production and processing facilities, and an educational component.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.