Governor McKee, First Lady Join State and Local Officials for Earth Day Litter Pick-up in Middletown, Recognizing Recipients of Litter-Free Rhode Island Microgrants

 Governor McKee, First Lady Join State and Local Officials for Earth Day Litter Pick-up in Middletown, Recognizing Recipients of Litter-Free Rhode Island Microgrants
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PROVIDENCE, RI — Today, Governor Dan McKee and First Lady Susan McKee joined state and local officials at a litter pick-up in Middletown today to mark Earth Day and celebrate the ongoing efforts through their Litter-Free Rhode Island initiative. The event also recognized recipients of a new microgrant program, spearheaded by Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB), that boosts local volunteer clean-up efforts and beautification projects.

Capitalized by a $100,000 line item that Governor McKee proposed and included in the enacted fiscal year 2024 budget, the microgrant program grew out of the Governor’s and First Lady’s Litter-Free Rhode Island initiative, which launched in 2022. Since the program was announced in March, the Governor’s office and DEM have reviewed applications and awarded grants to more than 70 groups, most of which have requested the full $750 limit.

Participating groups may use the awards to conduct litter pick-ups that are timed to be held around Earth Day or other volunteer clean-ups and beautification projects to be completed by June 15, 2024.

“Especially on Earth Day, our actions should speak louder than our words. The First Lady and I are thrilled with the work being done through the Litter-Free Rhode Island program to make our state cleaner each and every day,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We are excited to see how many community groups statewide have sought and obtained microgrants and we encourage all Rhode Islanders to take the pledge and commit to keeping Rhody litter-free!”

“Volunteerism lies at the heart of our program, and we appreciate and celebrate all volunteers who contribute their time and talent to beautifying communities across the state,” said First Lady Susan McKee. “Even a small act can make a huge impact, and by taking the Litter-Free Rhode Island pledge not only do we support our environment, but we set an example for our children, grandchildren and generations of Rhode Islanders.”

Grant funds may be used for equipment (work gloves, trash bags, and trash pickers), marketing (t-shirts, posters, signage, etc.), food and/or water for volunteers, and debris removal (dumpster and hauling fees, etc.). Schools, community groups, and municipal government divisions such as departments of public works and parks and recreation were eligible to apply, but all applicants had to provide proof of their nonprofit status. There is no monetary match requirement.

Applications were evaluated on relevance to local environmental/community interests, increased community learning opportunities, long-term environmental/beautification impact, and demonstrated need. Once the trash pick-up is complete, DEM is requiring documentation including photographs, the number of participants, and the amount of material collected as proof that the grant award was effectively spent as proposed.

“Litter is ugly, expensive, and illegal, degrades natural areas, injures and kills wildlife, and is a self-perpetuating problem because the more litter that’s in an area, the less guilty people feel when throwing their trash out the window of their car,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “However, at the same time, by controlling our own behavior, we can control litter. DEM is pleased to contribute to the Governor’s and First Lady’s response and in so doing, promoting conservation and fostering a sense of ecological stewardship.

“Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is proud to serve as the fiscal agent for the $100,000 Litter Free Rhode Island microgrant program,” said William Fazioli, Executive Director. “Through these grants, we’re helping communities across the state step up to clean-up litter which can clog storm drains and other important infrastructure. This is a smart program that will help reduce litter, engage community partners, and make for a more beautiful Rhode Island.”

Under the Litter-Free Rhode Island program, DOT has added 19 new state groundskeeper positions. Drivers may have noticed the crews alongside state roads and highways in the last few weeks addressing littered areas. In addition to the added crews, the department has also created a new ‘Trashboard,’ a database that tracks locations and amount of litter picked up by DOT crews. Microgrant recipients will be encouraged to use this database, so the state can track Rhode Island’s litter-free progress.

“Litter is a major issue for us, one we combat on a daily basis and have made strides in terms of additional personnel and equipment, including hiring 19 people specifically for litter pickup,” DOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. “Even though we spend upwards of $1.5 million annually on litter, we can’t do it alone. We thank the Governor and First Lady for their efforts to make litter control a priority and bring the necessary resources to bear to engage people from across the state to be a part of the solution and keep our roads litter free.”

DMV has updated the Rhode Island State Driver’s manual to include anti-litter material and is developing an informational video to play in DMV offices, which will encourage more people to take the Litter-Free Rhode Island pledge. The division will soon be offering reusable ‘litter bags’ to individuals when they register a new car at the DMV.

As of April 22, 31 cities and towns have passed or will soon pass the Governor and First Lady’s Litter-Free Rhode Island resolution to commit to cleaner communities.

Below is a list of Litter-Free Rhode Island microgrant recipients by town:

Town/City Microgrant Recipient
Barrington Barrington Land Trust
Barrington Town of Barrington
Block Island Block Island Leo Club
Bristol Thrive Outside
Bristol Town of Bristol Conservation Commission
Burrillville Burrillville Land Trust
Burrillville Town of Burrillville
Central Falls City of Central Falls Parks and Recreation Department
Central Falls Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful
Coventry Community College of Rhode Island Garden
Coventry Town of Coventry Public Works
Coventry Upper Dam Pond Conservation Association
Cranston Cranston Historical Cemeteries Commission
Cranston Cozy Rhody Litter Clean-Up
Cranston TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly)
Cumberland Blackstone River Watershed Council
Cumberland Troop 12 Berkeley-Ashton
East Greenwich Town of East Greenwich – Department of Community Services & Parks
East Providence City of East Providence, Public Works/Refuse & Recycling Division
Foster Foster Conservation Commission
Foster Scituate Sustainability Initiative Committee
Hope Pawtuxet River Authority and Watershed Council
Hope Valley Friends of the Hopkinton Land Trust
Hopkinton Town of Hopkinton
Johnston 15 Minute Field Trips
Lincoln Lincoln Conservation Commission
Middletown Aquidneck Land Trust
Middletown Town of Middletown
Narragansett Friends of Canonchet
Narragansett Town of Narragansett Parks and Recreation
Newport City of Newport Clean City Program
Newport Friends of Island Cemetery
Newport Rose Island Lighthouse & Fort Hamilton Trust
North Kingstown Davisville Middle School
North Kingstown Narrow River Land Trust
North Kingstown Town of North Kingstown
North Smithfield North Smithfield Clean and Green
Pawtucket The Housing Authority of the City of Pawtucket
Providence City of Providence
Providence Congress Ave
Providence Crossroads Rhode Island
Providence DaVinci Center for Community Progress
Providence Nuestro Mundo Public Charter School
Providence Partnership for Providence Parks, Recreation Centers, and Streetscapes (P3)
Providence Providence Career and Technical Academy
Providence Providence Parks Department
Providence Roger Williams Park Conservancy
Providence Save The Bay
Providence WaterFire Providence
Providence West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA)
Providence Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
Providence Youth Pride, Inc.
Providence Zero Waste Providence
Saunderstown Narrow River Preservation Association
Smithfield Town of Smithfield Department of Public Works
Tiverton Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District
Tiverton Tiverton Litter Committee
Wakefield Butt It Matters
Wakefield Friends of the Saugatucket
Wakefield Narragansett Pier Sportfishing Association
Warren Town of Warren Conservation Commission
Warren Warren Land Trust
Warwick Cowesett Heights Neighborhood Association
Warwick Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association
Warwick The River View Improvement Association
West Greenwich West Greenwich Land Trust
West Warwick Town of West Warwick
West Warwick West Warwick JAYCEES Education & Library Foundation
Westerly Dunns Corners Fire Department
Westerly The Greater North End Community Development, Inc.
Westerly Misquamicut Beach Foundation
Westerly Ocean Recovery Community Alliance
Westerly The Watch Hill Conservancy
Westerly Westerly Historical Society
Woonsocket City of Woonsocket
Woonsocket Woonsocket Historical Society

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