United Way of Rhode Island, Inc.


Providence, RI   |


Our mission is uniting our community and resources to build racial equity and opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

Notes from the nonprofit

Our community Impact report from 2020-2021 is online at :

Ruling year info


President and CEO

Cortney Nicolato

Main address

50 Valley Street

Providence, RI 02909 USA

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NTEE code info

Philanthropy / Charity / Voluntarism Promotion (General) (T50)

Community Improvement, Capacity Building N.E.C. (S99)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

2021 marks the beginning of our new strategic plan — LIVE UNITED 2025. Racism, health, justice, and economics 2020 spotlighted the failure for us, and everyone involved, of the war on poverty. After 50 years, this effort has been ineffective in creating opportunity and prosperity for all members of our community. The pandemic showed that where you live and the color of your skin is a powerful determinant of your likelihood to live or die from COVID-19. And, murders of our neighbors like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor remind us that Black Rhode Islanders are eight times as likely to be in jail as whites. That’s why we felt it was so important that our plan explicitly address systemic inequity – i.e., policies that promote unequal opportunity and treatment of people of color. We know it’s the right thing to do morally. It’s also the smart thing to do economically.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

United Way of Rhode Island

Our mission is uniting our community and resources to build racial equity and opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.

2021 marked the beginning of our new strategic plan - LIVE UNITED 2025 . The plan is rooted in data and guided by feedback from thousands of Rhode Islanders over the past few years. We are abundantly grateful to the thousands of individuals who contributed to the transformative plan that will guide our important work together and to those who support us.

The plan focuses on four focus areas:

LIFT UNITED: Building economic security.
ACHIEVE UNITED: Advancing childhood learning.
INVEST UNITED: Expanding philanthropy.
ADVOCATE UNITED: Driving policy and participation.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey to make sure Rhode Island is a place where every individual in each community has equal opportunity for justice and prosperity.

Population(s) Served
Social and economic status
Children and youth

United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island handles 200,000
requests for help each year, connecting our neighbors
to basic needs like housing, food, and childcare.
In efforts to deepen our services to the Rhode Island community, our 211 call center was officially launched in June 1st, 2007 expanding on our preexisting helpline services. United Way has invested in technology, hired and has trained nationally certified staff members to respond to the needs of Rhode Islands. 211 is a free, confidential service that provides information & referral, and is available in multiple languages, 24 hours a day/365 a year. United Way’s 211 program in Rhode Island is the largest information and referral contact center in the state with the most comprehensive database comprised of 4,472 agencies encompassing 11,000 services.

The program touts the highest call volume per capita in the United States. 211 Rhode Island handles 200,000 requests for help (on average) each year, connecting our neighbors to basic needs and beyond. Whether a Rhode Islander is looking for help with tax preparation or childcare, needs help with food, housing, or concerned by medical costs, 211 specialists are available, every day of the year, even during state and local emergencies.

Services are available in a variety of modalities. Rhode Islanders can call, text or online chat with a call center specialist. In our mobile outreach, our van reaches 50,000 people annually at various community events and fairs. Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am –4:30 pm, residents who need support can also come directly to the United Way of Rhode Island office in the heart of the Olneyville neighborhood for assistance. In 2016, a text feature was added to increase accessibility and convenience for those seeking assistance from 211. Residents of Rhode Island have the most comprehensive means of accessing resources from 211, thus why 211 Rhode Island is often referred to as the “front door to social services in Rhode Island”. Since 2008, 211 Rhode Island has responded to nearly 2 million phone calls.
In times of crisis, state leaders activate 211 in Rhode Island to triage crisis calls and connect our most vulnerable citizens to critical resources they need to survive. During the Covid-19 Health crisis, 211 is also providing services for the Office of Healthy Aging’s Quarantine and Isolation Center and Providence’s EBT card services for families receiving additional SNAP (food) benefits while children are out of school, and receiving and processing applications for the Governors Safe Harbor Housing Program. Throughout the current COVID-19 crisis, 211 call volume has nearly doubled from an average of 280 calls daily to over 500 calls with Rhode Island citizens in distress over health issues, loss of jobs, food insecurity, and other urgent concerns. United Way 211 has a pulse on the happenings of our state at all times and uses that comprehensive data set to support United Way of Rhode Island’s grantmaking, partnership and advocacy efforts, among others.

United Way 211 is a proud member of the national Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), a professional membership association for community information and referral (I&R). AIRS is the driving force behind the delivery of quality I&R services and the sole source for standards, accreditations and certifications for the community information and referral sector. Being a member of AIRS systems allows 211 to be on the forefront of innovative changes on both the state and national level.

Population(s) Served
Social and economic status
Work status and occupations

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total dollar amount of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Unemployed people, Adults, Children and youth, Ethnic and racial groups, Health

Related Program

United Way of Rhode Island

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The 2020 total does not include the Covid19 Response grants, totaling over 8.5 million to 200 organizations, which was a joint effort with Rhode Island Foundation.

Number of independent organizations served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Ethnic and racial groups, Families, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

United Way of Rhode Island

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Grants, sponsorships, and donations to individual organizations.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

• 90,000 households in Rhode Island—including more than 230,000 people—are struggling to meet basic needs.
• Nearly 20% of Rhode Island children live in poverty.
• Since 2008, the philanthropic landscape in Rhode Island has had a slow recovery.

• People want to do better for themselves and their families.
• LIVE UNITED is for everyone.
• There are solutions to our challenges, if we work together.

Through our strategic plan LIVE UNITED 2020, we will strengthen our community. We will invest in partnerships that are tested to make sure that they work over the short term, and are scalable over the long-term. We will try some new ideas, too. And, with support, we will spread positive results to families across the state.

Change the lives of 250,000 Rhode Islanders and strengthen our community, together.
--Provide a path out of poverty for 50,000 Rhode Islanders by improving the basic supports that will move them out of crisis.
--Help 100,000 Rhode Islanders meet basic needs.
--Give 65,000 young Rhode Islanders opportunities that ensure the next generation is strong and successful.
--Engage 35,000 Rhode Islanders through volunteerism and philanthropy.

Going deep, rather than wide
The plan will require United Way of Rhode Island to go “deep, rather than wide,” with investments and partners, to target the root causes that have thwarted Rhode Island’s ability to thrive. While we serve all Rhode Islanders in need, this plan will tackle Rhode Island’s great challenge, reversing the racial inequities that have plagued Rhode Island’s Black and brown communities for generations.

In order to “Live United,” we must dismantle systemic, institutional, and historical barriers based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities. We commit to leveraging all of our assets (i.e., advocacy, convening, fundraising, strategic investments, awareness building) to create a more equitable Rhode Island.

We will build on the success of United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island as the primary connection center that links people to critical human services. But our work won't stop there: 2-1-1 data will serve as the barometer of rising needs within our community.
We will promote access to affordable housing, childcare, job training, education, healthcare and other basic supports as investments in the overall success of our community.

Program samples:
• The long-term homeless population will be housed: Opening Doors Rhode Island will be fully implemented.
• United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island will provide 1,000 mobile health screenings annually.
• New mentorship programs will help Rhode Islanders gain an education and better manage their money.

We will help children gain the academic and social skills they need to be successful in school
and in life. We will improve training and educational opportunities for adults, to help more Rhode Islanders find new, or better paying, jobs.

Program samples:
• Hasbro Summer Learning Project will serve 10% of all low-income children.
• Improved afterschool programs will serve 20,000 students statewide.
• Partnerships with employers will develop job and career training programs.

We will increase opportunities for people to help solve social problems through gifts of expertise, time and money.
We will create new volunteer opportunities with a focus on long-term change and improve the quality of our existing engagement programs.

Program samples:
• To support our community and ambitious goals, we will raise $15 million dollars from 20,000 donors.
• Data points, trends and stories from United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island will identify the most critical needs facing our community.
• Expanded programs for young professionals and women will be a focus of new opportunities to give, advocate and volunteer.

United Way of Rhode Island has successfully served Rhode Islanders in need for nearly 90 years. We are a statewide United Way, with a commitment to helping Rhode Islanders help Rhode Islanders.

Donations to our Community Impact Fund directly support people and programs, as a trust covers our fundraising overhead.

Committed, passionate staff with experts in fundraising, community investment, public policy, education, financial literacy, and call center services. Our 2-1-1 staff is knowledgeable, dedicated and compassionate.

Our 2-1-1 call center handles nearly 200,000 calls each year -- data from those calls provide us with an inside view on need in the community. We have the data, and the ability, to see new trends in community need and available services, and to act on that data.

We are a member of the Zero 2016 coalition to end chronic and veteran's homelessness. We support the Housing First (supportive housing) model and have worked with our partners to end chronic and veteran's homelessness in our state. We have made progress in recent years, and we are getting close to 100% -- our goal for the end of 2016.

In five years, our summer learning signature program, Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative has grown to 18 programs statewide serving 1,600 children. Research tells us that nearly 30,000 families in our state would enroll their child in summer learning, if a program were available to them. We are working to expand summer learning opportunities for all children in our state, in an effort to help reduce summer learning loss.

Establishment of UW 2-1-1 in RI. The statewide information and referral line takes over 200,000 calls annually and is among the highest-volume 2-1-1 call centers in the country, per capita.

Passage of $75 mil. in affordable housing bonds through the work of a UWRI-led coalition to build more than 1,200 units of affordable housing.

Establishing the first quality rating system for pre-K programs in RI, BrightStars.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals, To make equitable investment decisions

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


United Way of Rhode Island, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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United Way of Rhode Island, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 02/20/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dolph Johnson

Hasbro, Inc.

Term: 2022 - 2026

Alden Anderson

CB Richard Ellis NE Partners, LP

Elizabeth Ferguson

CVS Health

Paola Fernandez

Centreville Bank

Junior Jabbie

Banneker Industries

Dolph L. Johnson, Jr.

Hasbro, Inc.

Robert R. Kent

The Washington Trust Company

Cortney Nicolato

United Way of Rhode Island

Gregg Perry

The Perry Group

Betsey Purinton


Christopher Sabitoni

Laborers' International Union of North America, NE Regional Office

Frank Sanchez

Rhode Island College

Marcela Betancur

Latino Policy Institute

Brian Carroll

Citizens Capital Markets

Barbara Chernow

Brown University

Jayne Donegan


Wendy Kagan


Barbara A. Mullen

Community Volunteer

Joseph Pierik

Carpionato Group

Terence Sobolewski

National Grid

Wes Cotter

Gilbane, Inc.

Suresh Swaminathan

Teknor Apex Company

Ramona Royal

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

James Galloway

FM Global

Joanne Daly

Morgan Stanley

Rena Sheehan

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/20/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/18/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.