Sara Gideon Makes $50,000 Gift to Maine Justice Foundation for Racial Justice and Equity

14 July 2021 , Posted in: Press Release

Hallowell, ME – The Maine Justice Foundation has received a generous gift of $50,000 from former Speaker of the House and U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon for the foundation’s Racial Justice Fund.

“We are so grateful for this incredible support,” said Michelle Draeger, Executive Director of the foundation. “This gift is a huge investment in a Maine where all people are valued and included, where race does not determine the quality of the health care you receive, your educational opportunities, or your treatment by the justice system. Sara Gideon’s partnership will mean a great deal to our work to foster racial justice and equity at all levels of Maine society.”

“During my time as Speaker and on my Senate campaign, I had the opportunity to see the challenges Mainers are facing, alongside the direct community support work taking place to address those hardships,” said Gideon. “My belief in our collective responsibility to improve the lives of others is what has always guided me and what always will.”

The goal of the foundation’s Racial Justice Fund is to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color statewide to forge social, systemic, and economic solutions that will address racism and inequities in our culture, organizations and systems.

In April the Foundation issued six grants of $5,000 each, along with two matching grants from an outstanding partner organization, Kennebunkport Climate Initiative:

  • 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. The Kennebunkport Climate Initiative is matching this grant.
  • 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 and expand 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 beyond Cumberland, York and Androscoggin Counties.
  • 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. Kennebunkport Climate Initiative is matching this grant.
  • The Third Place: To support SHIFT, a cross-sector initiative designed to assess and improve racial equity and foster social connections among BIPOC professionals in various workplace sectors such as healthcare, education, law, and technology.

Since last fall, corporations and philanthropic leaders across Maine have given over $476,000 to combat racial injustice and inequity through the foundation’s Racial Justice Fund. The FOUNDERS of the fund are:

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, HM Payson, Hancock Lumber, Hannaford Supermarkets, Harvard Pilgrim, Northern Light Health, Pierce Atwood, Preti Flaherty, RM Davis, Verrill, and the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.

The fund’s Advisory Committee members are: co-chairs Dr. Evelyn Silver and Prof. Marcelle Medford, Tim Dentry, Michael-Corey Hinton, Mary Herman, Angela Okafor, Reginald Parson, Francys Perkins, Spencer Thibodeau, Bill Harwood and Janis Cohen.

The Maine Justice Foundation, founded in 1983 as the Maine Bar Foundation, is the state’s leading funder of civil legal aid and is committed to ensuring access to justice for all Mainers. Find us online and support the Racial Justice Fund at www.justicemaine.org.

FMI: Contact Michelle G. Draeger, Executive Director: 620-1351, mdraeger@justicemaine.org

###