The Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship
The Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship is a new, annual program designed to stimulate solutions by Rhode Islanders to Rhode Island challenges. Made possible through the generosity of Rhode Island philanthropists Letitia and John Carter, who originated the idea, the Fellowship will provide seed funding for ideas designed to reap community benefit.
How did this come about? Letitia and John Carter are longtime Rhode Island philanthropists, but new donors to The Rhode Island Foundation. They partnered with us in 2009 on our initiative to bring Teach For America to Rhode Island as lead donors through a challenge match that enabled the Foundation to raise the $2.3 million required; Teach For America is now going strong in our state in its second year. In 2011, the Carters established a donor advised fund at the Foundation, and began conversations about what would become the Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship. We took John Carter’s visionary idea of Rhode Islanders developing innovative solutions to Rhode Island challenges and shaped it, with his approval, into this new program.
What is the program? Beginning in 2012, Rhode Island Innovation Fellowships will be awarded to two individuals. The fellowship provides $100,000 a year for up to three years to develop, test, and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve any area of life in Rhode Island. When we announced the Fellowship, our CEO, Neil Steinberg pointed out that this program would "fuel discovery, passion, and a pioneering spirit. . . . risk taking will be essential and failure is infinitely better than not trying.” John Carter noted, "We believe The Rhode Island Foundation is the ideal organization to carry forward our dreams for Rhode Island’s future and we are excited to embark on this adventure together."
The Fellowship will focus on 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 longstanding, intractable challenges. Pioneering work, exceptional leadership, bold vision, risk-taking, potential to scale up, and statewide impact will be favorably regarded in the review process.
Rhode Island leaders who serve on the selection panel, which is chaired by Neil Steinberg, are:
David Dooley, President, University of Rhode Island
Ann-Marie Harrington, President & Founder, Embolden Charlie Kroll, Founder, President & CEO,
Andera Marie Langlois, Retired Managing Director, Washington Trust Investors
John Maeda, President, Rhode Island School of Design Navyn Salem, Executive Director, Edesia, Inc.
Neil Steinberg, President & CEO, Rhode Island Foundation, Chair
The first two Fellows will be selected and announced in April 2012. They will receive up to $100,000 a year for up to three years to develop, test, and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve an area of life in RI.
The Foundation will fund at least two additional fellows each year. The application process is described on the Foundation’s website. The first deadline for letters of intent was December 23, 2011. We received more than 430 applications - we were blown away by the responses!
Applicants have ideas for tackling issues ranging from energy to food to economic development to technology to government to teaching, and more. They come from diverse backgrounds and bring an impressive array of experience as well as a generous and can-do spirit.
Please direct all inquiries to: Jessica David Vice President for Strategy, Planning and Special Projects The Rhode Island Foundation email@example.com P. 401-427-4005