By Richard Asinof
Sept. 13, 2021

PROVIDENCE – When the Rhode Island Foundation convenes its virtual annual meeting on Monday evening, Sept. 13, it will mark the beginning of a hopeful new year after a very turbulent 18 months, a difficult time marked by the devastation and havoc caused by the continuing coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted every facet of Rhode Island’s health, culture, economic, social and educational universe.

By any metric, the Rhode Island Foundation has helped the state stand its ground, serving as a positive beacon fighting against the centrifugal forces that would change the orbit of the Ocean State and pull things apart. By choosing to invest in health equity, in behavioral health, in nonprofit community agencies, and serving as the glue to keep the safety net stitched together in these difficult times, the Rhode Island Foundation has given new meaning to resilience.

As such, when the Rhode Island Foundation salutes its community heroes and its donors who helped to make their work possible, one can expect that good news will abound, reinforcing a sense of hope amid all the lives and families that have been disrupted.

One of the stories that may – or may not – get retold at the Rhode Island Foundation’s annual meeting is that of ONE Neighborhood Builders and its effort to build out its own free WiFi wire mesh network to serve the residents of Olneyville.

The initiative, launched in the fall of 2020, in direct response to what local residents had identified as a major problem during the pandemic – free access to the Internet, is one of those great stories about bottom-up innovation in Rhode Island driving positive change at the place-based, neighborhood level.