Youth Swim Lesson Grants

Every year there are families impacted by accidental drownings in the Ocean State and many of our children and teens lack the skills needed to stay safe in the water. In response to this, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is offering grants to communities and organizations that provide swimming lessons to children and teens to support additional participation in their programs. Formal swimming lessons are a preventative measure that can reduce the risk of drowning. In addition to swimming lessons, children should always be supervised by an adult near bodies of water including beaches and pools. 

Stock image of two children swimming with smiles at a freshwater location.


The 2024 Water Safety Grant Program aims to provide free swimming lessons to youths from low-income households via scholarships through municipalities and water safety organizations. Despite the proximity most of our residents have to public water access, whether they be saltwater beaches or freshwater ponds, Rhode Island does not have a robust water safety training curriculum. The goal is that this program will bolster water safety training to Rhode Islanders and avoid some of the potential water hazards such as drowning. Participating entities may use the grant awards to cover the cost of swimming lessons for students from low-income households. 

General Requirements 

The grants may only be used to cover the cost of swimming lessons for students under the age of 18 who come from low-income households. Eligible students should have 100% of lesson costs covered by this grant funding. 

Grant Award Amounts 

Capitalized by a line item included in the enacted fiscal year 2024 budget, the program will award up to $65,000 total in 2024. The RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) will accept applications for grants of a minimum of $5,000 up to $65,000.00 based on demonstrated need to qualified applicants who host swimming lessons across the state, to be issued no later than June 30, 2024. 

Depending on the number of qualified applicants and amounts requested, applicants may not receive the full amount requested. 


Applicants must be either a municipality, non-profit organization, or company registered to operate in Rhode Island which provides swimming lessons to students under the age of 18 or provides funding for free swim lessons to students from low-income households. 

If your organization has multiple locations, please submit a separate application for each location.  

Project Length 

Swim lessons must be funded after the award is granted and completed prior to December 31, 2024. Grantees are responsible for providing a final report outlining the number of students whose lessons were funded as well as their demographic information. Final receipts and reports are due to RIDEM prior to February 28, 2025. Any grantees who do not provide timely interim and final grant reports will be required to reimburse the state for the granted money and will be ineligible for future grant funding. 

Submission Policy 

It is the applicant’s responsibility to adhere to all application instructions including all deadlines included in this request for applications (RFA). DEM will accept electronic submission via this website prior to the posted deadline as the final and sole acceptable submission of an application. DEM will not accept submission or re-submission of incomplete or delayed applications after the posted deadline, barring exceptional circumstances. 


Submit Grant Application


Screening Criteria 

Applications will be screened based upon the following criteria: 

  • The application meets all eligibility and submission requirements. 
  • The applicant’s information is complete. 
  • Applications without budgets will not be accepted (see below for budget requirements). 
  • Organization Qualifications (15 points): Applicants will be scored based on their qualifications as a swimming instruction facility or funding organization.  
  • Program Overview (15 points): Applicants will be scored based on the framework within which swimming instruction is performed, including various skill levels offered, student to staff ratio, and projected outcomes for the students. 
  • Methodology (20 points): Applicants will be evaluated based on their screening method for determining student eligibility for funded lessons.  
  • Demonstrated Need (20 points): Applicants will be scored based on the demonstrated need for funded swim lessons, including whether there are students who cannot afford lessons at your location, if you currently provide subsidized lessons for students from low-income households and how many, etc. Increasing capacity or reach of an existing program can be another demonstrated need. 
  • Budget (20 points): Applicants will be scored based on the cost of lessons for one student and the anticipated number of students this will serve.  
  • Environmental Justice Community (10 points): Applicants will be assessed for their location within one of DEM’s environmental justice communities (DEM’s Environmental Justice Policy).  

Technical Assistance 

For any questions or technical assistance needs, please contact Troy Langknecht at or (401) 537-4150.