Foundation Makes Inaugural Grants to Six Maine Groups Working for Racial Justice and Equity

1 April 2021 , Posted in: Uncategorized

Hallowell, ME – The Maine Justice Foundation has made inaugural grants from its Racial Justice Fund to six Maine groups. The goal of the 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.

“We are delighted to announce these Racial Justice Fund grants to six inspiring organizations.  The grants result from thoughtful consideration and hard work by the Fund’s volunteer Advisory Committee, the Foundation’s Board and staff, and generous donations by many corporate and individual leaders,” said Michelle Draeger, Executive Director of the Foundation. “The projects supported will generate statewide impact in fundamental ways that we believe will advance racial justice and equity for BIPOC Mainers.”

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 the 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.

“I would like to thank the Maine Justice Foundation’s Racial Justice Fund Advisory Committee, MJF staff, and donors for all of the work and generosity that made this year’s grants possible,” said Michael-Corey Hinton, a Portland attorney and member of the Advisory Committee. “We are honored to announce awards to six organizations that have demonstrated true vision, passion, and capacity to improve racial equity and to attack systematic bias in the State of Maine. The numerous applications that we reviewed over the past month clearly demonstrate that systematic racism and bias is evident throughout Maine. The work in which these entities will engage over the coming year will make a positive difference in the lives of BIPOC Mainers.”

“We are truly honored and deeply grateful for the award,” said grantee Alyne Cistone of Bar Harbor, who is leading a project with Health Acadia. “The Maine Justice Foundation’s investment in our project will allow us to tell the incredible stories of bravery and commitment by the BIPOC community in Maine. This funding will make it possible for us to begin the important and much-needed work of advancing and celebrating Maine’s diversity.”

Since last fall, corporations and philanthropic leaders across Maine have given over $355,000 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 issued a request for proposals and reviewed applications. The current 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