Racial Justice Fund
Racial Justice Fund
UPDATE - August 17, 2022: Maine Justice Foundation Awards Grants to Seven Maine Groups Working for Racial Justice and Equity
Hallowell, ME, August 17, 2022 – The Maine Justice Foundation has awarded seven grants from its Racial Justice Fund to seven Maine groups for 2022. 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 seven 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. “We believe these projects will meaningfully advance racial justice and equity for BIPOC Mainers.”
The Foundation is issuing seven grants between $5,000 and $10,000 during this second year of grants, an increase in both organizations supported and funds distributed from the inaugural year. The grantees and the projects supported are:
• Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project: To support a new fellowship opportunity for law school students who identify as immigrants or having lived immigrant experience.
• Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center: To support continued expansion of the Center’s iEnglish Project to provide more language training to non-English speaking BIPOC community members so they can join Maine’s workforce.
• In Her Presence: To support the Bridge to Career Fulfillment program which aims to equip immigrant women with the tools they need to find fulfilling employment and achieve success in the workplace.
• Indigo Arts Alliance: To support Artists in Residence and community engagement for social justice in an effort to develop opportunities for social practice artists.
• Ladder to the Moon Network: To support Amjambo Africa in expanding their reach by increasing materials printed in seven languages and adding distribution at social service agencies, libraries, food pantries/soup kitchens, the shelter/hotel system, medical facilities and elsewhere.
• Maine Inside Out: To support arts and advocacy-based leadership development programs for system-impacted youth of color who have lived experience of Maine’s juvenile and criminal justice systems.
• Mindbridge: To support the Healing Racial Trauma Initiative to measure and make improvements on the quality of healing interventions and to re-define, destigmatize, and improve the accessibility of metrics and clinical methodologies.
“I am honored to be part of history once again with respect to funding seven outstanding local organizations committed to racial justice and equity in Maine,” says Reginald Parson, member of the Racial Justice Fund Advisory Committee. “I was impressed with the creative projects that were presented and I look forward to seeing how each project develops in the coming year. I have also been blessed to work with a group of dedicated professionals on the Racial Justice Fund Advisory Committee. Everyone is committed to making a difference and this gives me the inspiration to keep moving forward in a time of turmoil and uncertainty in America and the world."
Ladder to the Moon Network and the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center are among the seven organizations selected to receive funding in the second grant round. Reza Jalali, Executive Director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center shares that "Maine, the state we all love, will thrive if every Mainer, including those born in other parts of the world and calling Maine home now, succeed in reaching their full capacity. The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center helps New Mainers learn English to join the workforce and become economically independent. Their successful integration is good for all of us. The Maine Justice Foundation's support will make it possible for us to do our work better." Kathreen Harrison, Vice President of the Board for Ladder to the Moon Network is excited to expand their reach. “Our award from the Racial Justice Fund will enable us to get our publication into the hands of many more people desperate for information about how to navigate life in Maine. We'll be able to print more copies each month and distribute through expanded networks, including through food pantries and soup kitchens, at hotels housing asylum seekers, and through social service organizations. Since we publish in seven languages, newly arrived Mainers will be able to gather tips of all sorts, such as how to stay safe from scammers; how to prevent illness - including COVID; how to access free community college and certificate program opportunities; how to protect against immigration fraudsters; and what to think about when choosing a financial institution in the U.S. We are thrilled with this award.”
Since the inaugural grant round, corporations, philanthropic leaders, and individual donors across Maine have given an additional $290,000 raising the fund to $644,000 to combat racial injustice and inequity through the Foundation’s Racial Justice Fund. This growth has allowed the Foundation to increase both the number of grants made and funds distributed in 2022. 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, BirchBrook, 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, Michael-Corey Hinton, Mary Herman, Reginald Parson, Francys Perkins, Shelly Okere, 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.
FMI: Contact Michelle G. Draeger, Executive Director: (207) 620-1351, email@example.com
UPDATE - May 25, 2022: Racial Justice Fund Seeks Applications for Second Round of Grants
Hallowell, ME, May 25 – The Maine Justice Foundation is pleased to announce the second round of grants from the Racial Justice Fund. The Foundation will accept applications for grants of up to $10,000 from June 1-15, 2022. The grant guidelines and application form can be found online at https://www.grantinterface.com/sl/qxIsfa [Link will be live on 10:00 AM, Wednesday, June 1.]
The Racial Justice Fund supports education and advocacy aimed at achieving racial justice and addressing systemic racism. The Fund will support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color by forging social, systemic, and economic solutions to combat racism in Maine. Grants from the Fund will be made to qualified organizations for programs to advance racial justice throughout Maine, at every level of society, including but not limited to the legal system, healthcare, education, the workplace, food insecurity, natural resources, and housing. Applicants must be Maine-based and must demonstrate the involvement and participation of Maine residents who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color.
In the wake of racially motivated murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor among others in early 2020, corporations and philanthropic leaders across Maine joined forces to raise an initial $270,000 to launch the Racial Justice Fund of the Maine Justice Foundation to combat racial injustice and inequity throughout the state. In early 2021 the Foundation issued six grants to the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, Healthy Acadia – Downeast Diversity, League of Women Voters of Maine Education Fund, Maine Inside Out, Sunlight Media Collective and The Third Place. Since launching the Fund in 2020, the Foundation has been actively engaged in fundraising and the Fund now stands at $641,126, representing over $370,000 in growth. With racially motivated violence still topping the headlines almost daily, our work is far from done. The Foundation continues to seek donations to fund programs that address systemic racism and inequities throughout our communities.
“The Maine Justice Foundation has long supported the ideal of access to justice for all Mainers,” said Michelle Draeger, Executive Director. “The Racial Justice Fund demonstrates our conscious commitment to this ideal not only for white Mainers but also for our fellow Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community members who may be deprived of equitable treatment or suffer the effects of systemic racism because they are BIPOC. Our first round of grantees have successfully launched programs that support diversity and address racial inequities across Maine. [View Press Release] This critically important work not only supports BIPOC communities but it also engenders understanding of systemic inequities so we can all participate in solutions.”
The Fund’s Advisory Committee has formulated the specific goals for grantmaking, issued the inaugural and current request for proposals and will recommend grants. The current members are co-chairs Prof. Marcelle Medford and Dr. Evelyn Silver, Michael-Corey Hinton, Mary Herman, Reginald Parson, Francys Perkins, Bill Harwood, Janis Cohen, and Shelly Anarado Okere.
For a full description of the Racial Justice Fund and the Advisory Committee, please see below.
FMI: Contact Michelle G. Draeger, Executive Director: 207-620-1351, firstname.lastname@example.org or Linsey MacDougall, Development and Programs Manager: 207-620-1354, email@example.com
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.
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
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, Birchbrook (formerly Deighan Wealth Advisors), Central Maine Power, Cross Insurance, 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
Sara Gideon Campaign
Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation
Wein Hirshon Foundation
Judith Fletcher Woodbury and Douglas E. Woodbury
Partner for Change ($10,000)
Bank of America
Camden National Bank
Machias Savings Bank
Martin's Point Health Care
Gerrish H. Milliken Foundation
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
J.S. McCarthy Printers
Michael J. Metzger
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
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.
- 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.
- Shelly Anarado Okere
- 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 the immediate past 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.