The Rhode Island Foundation has announced the launch of a $2.5 million endowment that will fund scholarships, youth mentoring, and other services for the state's African-American community.
The funds to establish the endowment were derived largely from the sale of Bannister House, which was founded in 1890 as a nursing facility for elderly African-American women, most of whom had worked in the households of wealthy families. Following the sale of the property in 2015, the home’s board of directors approached the leadership of the foundation's Black Philanthropy Initiative about what they might do with the proceeds from the sale, approximately $2.2 million.
According to the foundation, the Bannister House Black Philanthropy Fund will serve the African-American community in three ways: postsecondary scholarship assistance for students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care at an accredited institution and are Rhode Island residents with demonstrated financial need; grants to community-based organizations that provide youth development and mentoring opportunities to urban youth; and grants to community groups working to promote the history and achievements of African Americans in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the state's African-American community, and assist low-income African Americans.
"The [Black Philanthropy Initiative] was doing a lot of good work in the community, particularly around financial empowerment," said Carol Golden, the foundation's senior philanthropic advisor, who will oversee the new fund. "This new partnership increases the size of the fund by a factor of almost ten, and that gives us the potential to really scale up its impact."