We are always looking for the perfect message for what the Maine Community Foundation does, recognizing that the organization is multi-faceted and has a range of audiences, from donors and professional advisors to nonprofits and policy makers. We often tout our statewide breadth and our ability to make philanthropy happen in Maine.
In the last year our messaging has shifted to reflect the three goals in our Plan for the Future. Thus, our underwriting script for Maine Public Radio states that the foundation strengthens Maine’s economy, “with a special focus on education, leadership, and quality of place.” We haven’t lost sight of the core elements of our work—building community, assisting donors, stewarding assets—we’ve just brought new clarity to our mission.
Really, our mission, and message, is Maine. This annual report to the community is meant to underscore that, by highlighting our efforts to build an educated work force, shape new leaders, and promote a passion for place.
Finally, this report is an opportunity to thank everyone for your support of our mission, our message, and Maine.
Meredith H. Jones
Chair, Board of Directors
Vice Chair, Board of Directors
At right: Dighton Spooner, Meredith Jones and George Shaw at Bowdoin College.
Girls’ Day at the Maine State House brings 100 eighth-graders from around the state into the Legislature. The girls discuss and debate a current bill—this year it was virtual charter schools—give speeches in the legislative chambers, and hold a public hearing and news conference.
“Girls meet girls from across the state, from Biddeford to Bar Harbor, from Wales to Winterport,” says Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Policy Center, which hosts the annual event. A former legislator, Townsend believes leadership is something that can be witnessed. She sees it among the eighth-graders who come to Augusta. “When they arrive, they are shy, but by the time the day is over, they are jumping up and expressing their opinions,” she says.
“We have given them the tools to act,” Townsend notes. The girls learn that policy affects their lives and that they have the ability to get involved and influence it. “They are so articulate, their arguments so strong that it gives me a lot of hope that we will have future leaders who are smart, engaged, passionate women.”
Through competitive and donor-advised funds, the Maine Community Foundation has supported the center’s Girls’ Day and other programs, including a public policy research fellow and the Women’s Summit on Economic Security. These initiatives frame its core mission: To improve the economic, social, and political status of women and girls in Maine through public policy and leadership development.
Eighth-grade girls debate a bill as part of the Maine Women’s Policy Center’s 18th Annual Girls’ Day at the State House.
As large as the insurance industry is, it’s not always on the radar of students seeking scholarships. In
an effort to encourage a new generation of insurance professionals, Patriot Insurance Company
set aside $1 million to help Maine students pursue business degrees at Maine colleges.
Patriot considered creating a private scholarship foundation, says Lincoln Merrill, president and CEO of the Yarmouth-based company, “but when we started to get into it, we found it was too expensive, too complicated—and would eat up too much of the fund to administer.” Working with the Maine Community Foundation, he says, “makes it easy: staff members review applications, help choose recipients, and make sure students receive their funding.”
Steven Falconer, a nontraditional, 30-something student finishing up his studies at the University of Southern Maine,
received a scholarship in 2013. “It saved my year,” he says. Falconer had been working and going to school full time. Now he holds a part-time job and can devote more time to school. He is also vice president of Enactus, the volunteer community service arm of USM’s business program that works with business and higher education leaders to help students develop the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.
Merrill knows the company’s efforts have paid off when he encounters former Patriot Education Scholarship Fund recipients who have chosen the insurance field and remained in Maine. “We are proud of our efforts to build the work force in our home state,” he says, “even as we ensure the future of our industry.”
“An informed network of funders has a greater impact addressing Maine’s environmental
challenges.” That vision, adapted by the Environmental Funders Network (EFN) in 2006, continues to be a guiding principle as it enters a new phase of on-the-ground, place-based work.
Building on lessons from its Quality of Place Initiative, EFN last year asked a working group of funders and grantees to help define its future focus. A study of Maine communities that show promise but also face challenges helped the group identify two distinct places—one urban, one rural—where charitable capital might make an impact: Lewiston-Auburn and Downeast Maine.
Over the coming decade, EFN will support connections among organizations in Lewiston-Auburn that focus on food (farming and gardening, healthy food access, value-added processing, and agricultural education), downtown revitalization, and riverfront development. Downeast, the network will link up groups working on watershed, river, and fisheries protection and restoration.
“EFN is committed to understanding the landscapes of both regions deeply and learning from the many organizations working there and the funders already investing in them,” says Jo D. Saffeir, network coordinator. This approach will expand EFN’s mandate to support projects and programs that promote environmentally sustainable economic development and enhance Maine’s quality of place.
Students from Washington Academy in East Machias help the Downeast Salmon Federation by clipping a fin from salmon parr so they can be identified if they return to the East Machias River to spawn.
Local leaders help the Maine Community Foundation build and sustain vibrant communities across the state. County committee members are committed to building financial support for their regions through work with donors, professional advisors, businesses, and schools, along with their roles as grant reviewers.
Generous individuals have long looked to the Maine Community Foundation as a pa
rtner for their charitable giving in Lincoln County. In fact, nearly $12 million is designated for the county through donor-advised, scholarship and other funds. Among other purposes, grants have helped the Damariscotta River Association monitor river quality and educate local citizens about the importance of stewardship.
Lincoln County will soon have its own permanent endowment. The Doree Taylor Charitable Foundation has donated $100,000 in seed money and further challenged the community foundation with a $400,000 match to reach a $1-million goal.
The Midcoast Stewards Course is a collaboration of the Damariscotta River Association and the Maine Coastal Program of the Department of Conservation, Agriculture, and Forestry.
Years ago, Ginny Gifford turned to Literacy Volunteers of Bangor for reading help; today she’s the tutor. Gifford also serves on the nonprofit’s board and trains tutors to help improve their skills and job prospects. Literacy Volunteers is among 34 programs and projects that have received support from the Penobscot County Fund, which is marking its fifth anniversary this year.
Ginny Gifford, with her eight-year-old twin sons Jadon (left) and Jesse Gifford, changed her family’s life through help from Literacy Volunteers of Bangor.
When you give through the Maine Community Foundation, you are joining thousands of charitably minded individuals who are committed to strengthening Maine. Our in-depth knowledge of the state and our expertise in philanthropy will help you transform your passion for giving into powerful, meaningful change. Here are a few giving options:
Thinking about starting a family or corporate foundation? A donor-advised fund, named or anonymous, may be a tax-advantaged and convenient alternative. A scholarship, a fund to support a favorite organization or a particular cause—there are many ways to partner with the community foundation to fulf
ill your passions through philanthropy.
Lead with Us: Donate to a Fund
Help us strengthen local communities by giving to the community foundation’s county and regional funds or partner with us by supporting statewide flexible funds such as the Critical Issues and Invest in Maine funds.
Give to the Future: Make a Planned Gift
Your legacy can be shaped to support the causes you care about now while providing financial and estate savings.
Founded by Vassalboro native Eunice Frye, the Women’s Literary Union of Portland has stimulated the cultural life of its members and promoted community service for 125 years. In 2013, the union transferred a $350,000 endowed scholarship to the Maine Community Foundation.
The scholarship fund supports female high school graduates from Greater Portland who participate in the union’s youth council. “Our aim has always been to foster intellectual advancement and educational progress,” said Virginia Toner, the union’s president. “We are pleased that the community foundation will help fulfill our mission into the future.”
At right: Eunice Nichols Frye (1852-1923), ca. 1910. She and her husband, George C. Frye, were active in a number of philanthropies, including the Wayside Rest or Home for Worthy Women.
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