30+ options for investing in our community

Invest Local banner, blue text on gray background

Are you looking for ways to invest locally?  Here’s our list of some options right here in Rhode Island. (If we missed something that should be on the list, let us know!)

  1. Become a member of your local food co-op, like Urban Greens in Providence.
  2. Shift 50% of your big-box spending to independent, locally-owned businesses. 
  3. Purchase a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership. 
  4. Subscribe to Market Mobile or Munroe Dairy, subscription services that carry other local products. 
  5. Buy your weekly produce at your local farmers’ market. 
  6. Visit any of the great artisan markets Rhode Island has to offer, like the Providence Flea or Anti-Robot Club’s Marketplace.
  7. Look for crowdfunding opportunities from local, independent businesses. 
  8. Compost your food scraps, using a local start-up like the Compost Plant or Harvest Cycle
  9. Move your money to a local bank or credit union. 
  10. Ask your employer how much of their spending is with locally-owned, independent businesses. 
  11. Call a local taxi company or car service instead of Uber or Lyft. 
  12. Order takeout directly from your favorite restaurant, instead of using national platforms like GrubHub or UberEats, which take a huge surcharge off the top.
  13. Make a gift to support Bonus Bucks at Farm Fresh, which provide a 100% matching bonus for shoppers at farmers’ markets who receive federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  14. Volunteer with Hope’s Harvest to glean surplus produce for local farms. 
  15. Support local fishermen and women by buying Rhode Island seafood
  16. Support a local news outlet like ecoRI or The Public’s Radio, or subscribe to a locally-owned newspaper like the Warwick Beacon or East Bay RI Newspapers.  
  17. Join an “RI Buy Nothing” group to trade/reuse/exchange with local residents.
  18. Set up a recurring gift to Local Return and join like-minded individuals throughout the state who contribute monthly, quarterly, or annually, enabling us to build a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable Rhode Island.
  19. Donate your professional service pro-bono to groups and individuals when permissible (some ideas: lawyers donating legal advice/representation, financial advisors and brokers investing willing-clients’ assets into local/community-focused enterprises, grocers/restaurants donating food, mechanics donating labor for vehicle repair).
  20. Participate in your local flea market for second-hand purchases instead of big-box stores.
  21. Consider recycling metal components with a scrap yard/dealer or listing broken and/or unused equipment (lawnmowers, car parts such as hubs and calipers, etc.) on Marketplace, Craigslist, or a local community group.
  22. Looking for a unique gift idea? Buy from local artists!
  23. Become a patron of community theaters like Teatro ECAS or Wilbury Theatre Group.
  24. Take in a show at a local theater, like the Greenwich Odeum, Stadium Theatre, or Columbus Theatre.
  25. Donate or set aside unused land for community gardening or a community park, or begin cultivating and growing your own plants. Also consider setting aside yard space or window boxes to plant wildflowers for pollinators.
  26. Shop at an independent, locally-owned grocery store, like Dave’s Market or Brigido’s Fresh Market.
  27. Mixed-use property owners can donate vacant storefront space to “quality of life” tenants permissible within zoning ordinances. For example, multifamily property owners with commercial groundspace could donate space to a small grocer instead of leaving it vacant.
  28. Purchase from employee-owned certified enterprises.
  29. Donate unused books to a local library or community book exchange, or deposit them at Little Free Libraries you spot in your neighborhood. 
  30. Learn a trade by assisting Habitat for Humanity in building homes.
  31. Reserve space at local parks (especially underutilized parks) to hold community events, cookouts, movies-on-the-block, etc. This encourages municipal investment in parks!
  32. When possible, commute to work one day a week by RIPTA.

Move Your Money

Move Your Money graphic

Our economic choices matter. Even if we don’t have the outsized wealth of Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, there are consequences to how we spend and invest our money. 

Choosing a local bank is one of the easiest ways to support our local economy. Thinking locally is about more than spending your dollars locally. It’s about investing in your community as a whole, and that starts with where your dollars are deposited. 

Because April is Move Your Money: Bank Local, Invest Local Month, we’ve got a Make the Move Toolkit for you: 

  • Step one: Know why local financial institutions matter.
  • Step two: Consider your options. By our count, there are local bank and credit union branches in 35 of Rhode Island’s communities.
  • Step three: Be specific about your needs. Be clear about what kind of product(s) you’re looking for. And remember: there’s no reason you can’t have relationships with more than one financial institution.
  • Step four: Make the move. And celebrate it! Tell your friends and family why you are banking local, and share your move news with us on Twitter or Instagram using #moveyourmoney, #banklocal, or one of the graphics below.

#MoveYourMoney Graphics

Local Banking Options 

If you want to find a bank that keeps your money close to home and puts it to work for your community (here are four good reasons why you should!), we’ve got a list of community banks and credit unions in Rhode Island. 

By our count, there are branches in 35 of our 39 municipalities. You can bank locally in villages from Pascoag to Riverside, and Manville to Chepachet. 

Don’t forget to do your research first: 

  • BankLocal.info provides a rating of how well banks contribute to the health of local economies. For example, Peoples Credit Union merits ⭐️⭐️⭐️(out of three stars) for Strong Impact, compared to Santander’s ⭐️ Weak Impact rating. 
  • MightyDeposits.com shows you what banks invest in. For example, for every $100 you deposit at Bank Newport, the bank makes $74 of community investments. Compare that to $26 for Bank of America. 
  • Community credit unions and banks formed to respond to the needs of local people, so learn the history of your bank. For example, Navigant Credit Union launched in 1915 in the basement of Notre Dame Parish in Central Falls to serve Blackstone Valley textile workers. 

Bank Newport 
Ownership: Stock 
Headquartered in: Newport 
Branches in: Barrington, Bristol, Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Jamestown, Johnston, Middletown, Narragansett, Newport, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Providence, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick

Bank Rhode Island 
Ownership: Stock 
Headquartered in: Providence 
Branches in: Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, East Providence, Johnston, Lincoln, Middletown, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, Providence, Smithfield, Wakefield, Warwick, Woonsocket

Centreville Savings Bank 
Ownership: Mutual 
Headquartered in: West Warwick 
Branches in: Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Providence, Warwick, West Greenwich, West Warwick 

Community & Teachers Federal Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: East Providence  

Coventry Teachers FCU 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Coventry

Cranston Municipal Employees Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Cranston 

Greenwood Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Warwick 

Home Loan Investment Bank
Headquartered in: Warwick
Branches in: Cumberland, Newport, Providence, Warwick

Independence Bank
Headquartered in: East Greenwich 

Navigant Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative
Headquartered in: Smithfield 
Branches in: Central Falls, Chepachet, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, Greenville, Lincoln, Manville, North Providence, Pawtucket, Riverside, Rumford, Scituate, Slatersville, Smithfield, Wakefield, Warren, Warwick, Woonsocket 

Pawtucket Credit Union  
Headquartered in: Pawtucket
Branches in: Bristol, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, East Providence, North Kingstown, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Smithfield, Wakefield, Warwick 

Peoples Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Middletown
Branches in: Bristol, Middletown, Newport, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Wakefield 

Ocean State Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Coventry
Branches in: Coventry, North Kingstown, West Warwick

Rhode Island Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Providence
Branches in: Bristol, Cranston, Kingston, Pascoag, Pawtucket, Providence

Washington Trust
Ownership: Stock
Headquartered in: Westerly
Branches in: Block Island, Charlestown, Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, East Providence, Johnston, Narragansett, North Kingstown, North Providence, Providence, Richmond, Rumford, Wakefield, Warwick, Westerly 

Wave Federal Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Warwick 

Westerly Community Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Westerly
Branches in: Coventry, Richmond, Wakefield, Westerly

Woodlawn Federal Credit Union 
Ownership: Cooperative 
Headquartered in: Pawtucket

If we’ve missed any community banks or credit unions, please email us.

Why bank local? 

Community banks and credit unions are embedded in local communities, rely on strong customer relationships, and understand the needs of local people, businesses, and markets. Here are four great reasons to bank local (adapted with gratitude from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance). 

1. You’ll get the same great services for lower costs. 

Most locally owned banks and credit unions offer the same services at lower costs than big banks. According to national data, smaller banks offer lower average fees, better interest rates, and better terms on credit cards and other loans. They opened to serve local residents and businesses, providing services that people otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access. And they’re staffed by people from the community, which results in personalized attention.

2. Your money will be put to work supporting the local economy.  

Small businesses depend on local banks for financing, especially in moments of crisis. Consider this: 

  • In 2018, community-based financial institutions made 52% of all small business loans nationwide, even though they controlled only 16% of total banking assets. Giant banks, which controlled 59% of bank assets, made up just 27% of small business lending. (Source: ISLR)
  • During the pandemic, local banks distributed PPP funds to small businesses more quickly and more equitably. Community banks made 60% of all Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans—including 72% of PPP loans to minority-owned businesses. (Source: ICBA)

3. Like you, local banks are invested in the prosperity of the local economy and community.

Big banks are not connected to the places where they operate, and they often use a community’s deposits to make investments in other places. Local banks prosper when local communities prosper. 

Small, local banks and credit unions want to turn deposits into loans and other productive investments. Big banks devote a sizeable share of their resources to Wall Street bets that may generate big profits for the bank but offer little economic or social value for the rest of us. And as we’ve seen, if they go bad they put the entire financial system at risk.

4. Decisions will be made locally. 

At local banks and credit unions, loan approvals and other key decisions are made by people who live in the community, have relationships with their customers, and understand the local needs. Because of this, they often approve small business loans that big banks would reject. Even better: at credit unions, control rests with the customers, who are also the owners.

A conversation with Michelle Hoexum of Revalue

Michelle Hoexum

Are you looking for a path forward for investing your money locally? Feel like you need more tools for due diligence and research? 

Join us for a practical workshop with Michelle Hoexum of Revalue, a leading firm for building Wall Street and Main Street portfolios and learn some of the tools and approaches that Revalue uses to evaluate local investment opportunities.

March 15, 2022
6:30-7:30 p.m.
Register here

Michelle Hoexum is Managing Partner with Revalue. She is a capital connector and impact advisor with specialties in SRI strategies and regenerative finance. Michelle is here to help you on your financial journey, especially as it relates to combining a philanthropic and capital resource plan to impact your wellbeing and that of the community. When she is not advising she is out walking with Albert, her chocolate lab puppy, practicing yoga/meditation, enjoying nature with friends or enjoying a good historical fiction novel or investment book in her historical home, complete with all the projects.

Revalue is a home for people passionate about cultivating an abundance mindset in service of community resilience and future generations. They are financial navigators, connecting people to their purpose by crafting values-aligned financial plans and creative educational programming in partnership with those we serve. 

Neighborhood Trusts

Local Return supports the recommendation made by the Rhode Island Foundation’s Make It Happen: Investing in Rhode Island’s Future committee to invest $50 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds in neighborhood trusts.

A neighborhood trust is a collection of funds, controlled by members of the community for the long-term benefit of the community. This is a way of getting funds directly to neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by both COVID-19 and generations of financial disinvestment — and generating economic activity, local agency, social resilience, and community wealth.

$50 million could seed nine neighborhood trusts, along with robust technical assistance for the first five years and legal support upon start-up. View the slideshow above for more details on our proposal.

Do you believe in this proposal like we do? Contact your state Representative and Senator now. Tell them:

  • The unequal impact of COVID-19 on neighborhoods stems from decades of disinvestment, racism, and systemic failures.
  • Neighborhood trusts center community decision-making, giving distressed communities local ownership and control of the resources that flow into them. People know their own needs and those of their communities best.
  • I support the proposal to use $50 million of ARPA funds (less than 5% of the Federal Relief Funds allocated to Rhode Island) for neighborhood trusts.
  • This idea has the potential to be truly transformative, and those are the kinds of investments we need to be making right now for Rhode Island’s long-term future.

Community Conversation with Lanre Ajakaiye

Lanre Ajakaiye is president and CEO of 25 Bough Street Development. He is also the first person in Rhode Island to do a Regulation CF crowdfunding campaign, a fundraising strategy made possible by the JOBS Act of 2012 which allows non-accredited investors to contribute. 

“It’s a pathway for unlocking the community and the network, and your community and your zealous advocates,” said Lanre about Regulation CF.

25 Bough is a 22,000 square feet commercial building that takes up a corner city block in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. Lanre’s vision is to host a Futures Hub to provide youth grades 3 through high school with financial literacy, career awareness, and more. Nonprofit partners will locate in the building, which will also house a cultural experience museum and event space. Lanre is in discussions to bring a local bank to 25 Bough; there’s currently no locally-owned financial institution within the neighborhood. 

A Rhode Island native born to parents who immigrated to Providence from Nigeria, he purchased this building a mile from where he grew up. Within just a few months, Lanre raised $206,000 from “188 investors from the community who want to see this come to fruition.” As he pointed out, the crowdfunding campaign gave people an outlet to express their support for his vision. 

“I’m way past community engagement,” said Lanre, “and I’m all about community activation.”

Why buy local?

Every $1 you spend has consequences. If you choose to buy from locally-owned businesses, your money does more good for your local community. We can give you at least six good reasons to buy local:

  1. Money: When we shop local, money stays in our local economy longer and does more good. For every $100 you spend at a locally-owned business, an average of $68 stays in the local community. Compare that to just $43 for a big box store.
  2. Jobs: Local businesses = local jobs. Small businesses are the state’s largest employer. They hire our neighbors, family members, and friends.
  3. Charm: Local businesses shape the character of our communities. They make our places unique and interesting.
  4. Climate: Buying local is good for the environment. It means less resources and energy were used to transport goods.
  5. Community: Local businesses are more inclined to give back to the local community — think Little League teams, raffle donations, and charitable giving — because they are part of the local community. They donate almost 2.5x more per employee than national chains.
  6. Trust: It feels good to do business with someone you know.

With every purchase you make, you can strengthen the Rhode Island economy.

Community Conversation with John Santos and Philip Trevvett

Are you a member of Urban Greens Food Co-op, the consumer-owned grocery store located on Cranston Street in Providence? Perhaps you’re a stock holder. Or maybe you’re just wondering why Urban Greens never ran out of toilet paper early in the pandemic.

Urban Greens opened its doors in the summer of 2019, after years of work by a dedicated board, including now-Chair Philip Trevvett. Since then, it’s become a neighborhood staple, thanks to the hard-working team led by General Manager John Santos.

“Sharing the wealth means sharing opportunity,” says John, and that’s really what Urban Greens is all about. They provide healthy food, purchase food from local farmers and producers, and prioritize local businesses for all their needs. As Philip describes, “there’s many ways in which the community-owned business – both through how it profit-shares and how it relationship-builds – recycles more money in the local community than a typical business might.”

Urban Greens raised money to build the store through a direct public offering, in which anyone could become a shareholder for as low as $2,000. Over 150 people and families invested, resulting in over $600,000…and a brand new grocery store.

This is community investment!