Racial Justice Fund
Racial Justice 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.
It's Up to Us
For the Maine Justice Foundation, an overwhelmingly white organization in an overwhelmingly white state, the Racial Justice Fund is our call to action. It's up to us. Our call goes out to everyone in Maine who wants the rule of law to apply equally and to create not just equality of opportunity but a society whose benefits are shared and enjoyed equitably, regardless of race.
It is time for those of us who want to be allies of BIPOC Mainers to reach further across the divide than we have ever reached, to listen, to learn, and most importantly to act.
The Racial Justice Fund will support education and advocacy aimed at achieving racial justice, equity and eliminating racism. The goal of the Fund is to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color and to forge social, systemic, and economic solutions to combat racism in our culture, organizations and systems in Maine.
Making Grants to Support Racial Justice
Grants from this fund will be made to qualified organizations for programs to achieve racial equity and eliminate racial bias throughout Maine. Specifically, grants will be made to: 1) identify implicit bias and systemic racism in our culture, organizations and systems; 2) engender productive dialogue that will serve as a foundation for creating systems, laws and organizational culture devoid of racial disparity; and 3) implement racially equitable programs, processes, education and systems at every level of society, including, but not limited to, the legal system, healthcare, education, the workplace, the courts and housing.
We welcome your gift to this endowed fund to increase the impact of our grantmaking.
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.
Special Thanks to the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation
A significant gift from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation will enable the Racial Justice Fund to make an extraordinary impact. Our special thanks go to the trustees of the King Foundation.
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 - 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.
Two former Chief Justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court voiced their support for racial justice and the work of this fund.
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