Racial Justice Fund
Racial Justice Fund
UPDATE - April 1, 2021: Fund Makes Inaugural Grants to Six Maine Groups Working for Racial Justice and Equity
Hallowell, ME – The Maine Justice Foundation has made inaugural grants from its Racial Justice Fund to six Maine groups. The Foundation is issuing six grants of $5,000 each in this round. The grantees and the projects supported are:
- Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center: To support expansion of the Center’s iEnglish Project to provide more language training to non-English speaking BIPOC community members so they can join the workforce.
- Health Acadia – Downeast Diversity: To support the creation of a podcast entitled “Downeast Diversity: Stories of Culture and People” that highlights and documents the perspective of BIPOC Mainers seeking equity in all aspects of their lives.
- League of Women Voters of Maine Education Fund: To support the Neighbor to Neighbor Voting Project, a nonpartisan education initiative to increase voter engagement in neighborhoods with low voter participation that are largely BIPOC immigrant communities.
- Maine Inside Out: To support the creation of a BIPOC Affinity Group for current and formerly incarcerated youth, led by and for BIPOC staff and youth members to support each other, create original art, build solidarity, leadership and a collective vision for positive change for at-risk BIPOC youth.
- Sunlight Media Collective: To support the creation of multi-media by Maine’s tribal members to document and educate the public about the tribal perspective on issues of environmental justice, land control and the commodification of natural resources and its impact on indigenous people of Maine.
- The Third Place: To support SHIFT, a cross-sector initiative designed to assess and improve racial equity in various workplace sectors such as healthcare, education and law.
About the Fund
To be a Black, Brown or Indigenous person in America is to live in a constant state of fear that everyday interactions might escalate into deadly violence simply because of one's ethnicity or race. It means jobs are harder to find and easier to lose. It means being more likely to live in a zip code where life expectancies are shorter.
Maine is not immune to the virus of racism. Black Mainers were at one point 20 times as likely to contract COVID-19 as white Mainers, the worst racial disparity in the country. This inequity is not the result of the actions of a few whom we can conveniently label "racist" and thereby absolve our white institutions and structures of responsibility. This inequity is the predictable outcome of a system in which Mainers who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) have more precarious incomes, less access to health care, worse housing and many other risk factors.
Twenty-two FOUNDERS, representing a wide range of Maine companies, law firms and professional services committed to racial equity, have created the Fund with gifts of $10,000 each: AARP Maine, Androscoggin Bank, AT&T, Baker Newman Noyes, Bangor Savings Bank, Bernstein Shur, Central Maine Power, Cross Insurance, Deighan Wealth Advisors, Drummond Woodsum, Eaton Peabody, F.L.Putnam Investment Management Company, Gorham Savings Bank, Hancock Lumber, Hannaford Supermarkets, Harvard Pilgrim, HM Payson, Northern Light Health, Pierce Atwood, Preti Flaherty, RM Davis, and Verrill.
Donors to the Racial Justice Fund
Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation
Wein Hirshon Foundation
Judith Fletcher Woodbury and Douglas E. Woodbury
Partner for Change ($10,000)
Martin's Point Health Care
Allagash Brewing Company, Inc.
Lauri & Ethan Boxer-Macomber
Brimstone Consulting Group, LLC
David J. Casavant
Jason & Carrie Cianchette
Michelle & Scot Draeger
JRA Fund of the Maine Community Foundation
Kennebec Savings Bank
Valerie S. Libby & W. John Wipfler
Arnie Macdonald & Liza Moore
Michael J. Metzger
Gerrish H. Milliken Foundation
New Surry Theatre
Page One Web Solutions
Lynne W. Russell-Johnson
John Ryan & Jenny Scheu
Mathew J. Scease
Christopher J. Watson
Dr. Clayton R. Woodbury
John and Bette Woodbury
Advisory Committee Members
The Advisory Committee will outline the programmatic scope of the Fund's work, issue a request for proposals and review and recommend grants from the Fund. Collectively, the Advisory Committee brings incredible expertise, knowledge and dedication that will turn the Racial Justice Fund into a powerful force for change. We are grateful for their generous gifts of time and talent to this important endeavor.
- Dr. Evelyn Silver (Co-Chair) - Evelyn was the director of Equal Opportunity, Associate Vice President for Personnel and Academic Services, and later a Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Maine. She was Chair of the Board of Eastern Maine Healthcare System.
- Professor Marcelle Medford (Co-Chair) - Marcelle is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Bates College. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of urban sociology, immigration, race, and ethnicity. Specifically, she examines how black immigrants understand their own ethnically-specific identities in the United States.
- Angela Okafor – Angela is an immigration attorney, a current member of the Bangor City Council (as the first immigrant and Person of Color on the Council) and the owner of two small businesses in Bangor. She is also a member of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee. Read more about Angela here.
- Mary Herman – Director of Special Projects, Maine Department of Education. Mary is an expert facilitator, strategist, and business consultant with over four decades of experience. Mary was also the First Lady of the State of Maine during the Angus King administration.
- Spencer Thibodeau - Spencer is an attorney at Verrill, a Member of the Portland City Council (Chair, Sustainability and Transport Committee and Member, Economic Development Committee) and a Board Member of the United Way of Greater Portland.
- Tim Dentry – President and CEO, Northern Light Health. Tim joined Northern Light Health, a health system with nearly 13,000 employees, as Chief Operating Officer in 2016. Previously, Tim focused on international health delivery improvement, from Addis Ababa to Abu Dhabi, with institutional backing from Yale University and Johns Hopkins Medicine. Tim hosts a podcast series called Tim Talk focusing on racial, social and medical justice issues.
- Reginald Parson – Reggie is a Senior Legislative Aide and Policy Analyst to Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and a 2019 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law.
- Michael-Corey F. Hinton - Corey is an attorney at Drummond Woodsum in the Tribal Nations Practice Group. Corey is an enrolled member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point. He is a former member of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team and the former president of the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C.
- Francys Perkins - Francys works for Hannaford Supermarkets as an Assistant Store Manager in Westbrook and has been a member of Hannaford’s Diversity and Inclusion Council since 2016. Francys is from the Dominican Republic and has a Bachelor’s Degree from the UTESA School of Law, in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
- William S. Harwood - Bill is currently President of the Maine Justice Foundation Board. A graduate of Harvard University (B.A., 1974) and Fordham University School of Law (J.D., 1978), Bill has been a partner at Verrill since 1984.
- Janis Cohen - Janis is currently Vice President of the Maine Justice Foundation Board and Co-Chair of the Development Committee. Janis is a retired attorney, formerly Vice President and Managing Counsel of the investment lawyers at Unum Group, where her work focused on commercial real estate.
*In memoriam - the Honorable John Jenkins, former State Senator and Mayor of Lewiston and of Auburn, joined the Committee at its founding as Co-Chair. He tragically passed away at the end of September 2020.
Resources for Equity and Justice
- Recommendations to the Maine Legislature, September 2020 - The Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Maine Tribal Populations
- Racial Equity Tool Kit: An Opportunity to Operationalize Equity - Government Alliance for Racial Equity
- Race Forward trainings
- The Management Center - tools for diversity and inclusion
- How To Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Maine Racial Justice Policy Guide - Maine People's Resource Center