Racial Justice Fund

Racial Justice Fund

The 2023 grant application period has ended. Please EMAIL Linsey MacDougall, Development & Programs Manager, with any questions about the Racial Justice Fund application process or to be added to the notification list for the next application period. Download Grant Guidelines

2023 Racial Justice Fund Grantees

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  • Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project: To support a paid fellowship opportunity for law school students who identify as immigrants or have lived immigrant experience.
  • Ladder to the Moon Network: To expand the reach of Amjambo Africa, a publication that provides vital information directed toward immigrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking community members, through digital channels including radio, podcast, and videos.
  • Maine Inside Out: To engage BIPOC young men incarcerated at Mountain View Correctional Facility in weekly workshops with Maine Inside Out theatre facilitators to create and share two original plays.
  • Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS): To host a series of DEI trainings for attorneys who provide criminal indigent legal services in Maine.
  • In Her Presence: To ensure the availability of culturally appropriate and nutritious food at the Frances Warde Home for sheltered asylum seekers in Portland, ME.
  • Alpha Legal Foundation - Maine Justice Corps: To support a Maine JusticeCorps pilot program in Androscoggin and Cumberland Counties that will place a minimum of (7) full-time BIPOC AmeriCorps members as legal navigators in courthouses.

2022 Racial Justice Fund Grantees

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  • 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 the workforce.
  • Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project: To support a new fellowship opportunity for law school students who identify as immigrants or having lived immigrant experience.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

2021 Racial Justice Fund Grantees

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  • 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

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

Catalyst ($100,000)


Champion ($50,000)

Sara Gideon Campaign

Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation

Leaders ($25,000)

Wein Hirshon Foundation

Judith Fletcher Woodbury and Douglas E. Woodbury

Partner for Change ($10,000)

Anonymous (1)

Bank of America

Mimi Foundation

Versant Power

Blue and Red illustration representing the Bank of America LogoGreen and blue illustration representing the Versant Power logo

Advocate ($5,000)

Camden National Bank

Machias Savings Bank

Martin's Point Health Care

Gerrish H. Milliken Foundation


Anonymous (1)
Allagash Brewing Company, Inc.
Jane Andrews
Lauri & Ethan Boxer-Macomber
Brimstone Consulting Group, LLC
David J. Casavant
Jason & Carrie Cianchette
Catherine Connolly
Heather Creacey
Kimberly Donahue
Michelle & Scot Draeger
Jane Field
Nancy Gray
Beth Hoppe
JRA Fund of the Maine Community Foundation
Kennebec Savings Bank
Patti Lanigan
Valerie S. Libby & W. John Wipfler
Arnie Macdonald & Liza Moore
J.S. McCarthy Printers
Liz McGlinn
Michael J. Metzger
New Surry Theatre
NRF Distributors
Susan Orkin
Page One Web Solutions
Leila Raven
Lynne W. Russell-Johnson
John Ryan & Jenny Scheu
Mathew J. Scease
Heather Sharkey
Angela Doyle
Arielle Walrath
Christopher J. Watson
Stephen Wessler
Jennifer Wiessner
Dr. Clayton R. Woodbury
John and Bette Woodbury

For more information on the work of the Fund or to learn about different sponsorship levels, please contact Executive Director Michelle Draeger or Development & Programs Manager Linsey MacDougall.


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 - Shelly is a small business owner and manager of IOS, LLC: Real Estate Investments.  From 2017 until the end of 2022, Shelly was an Assistant District Attorney in Penobscot County where she focused primarily on compassionate juvenile prosecution.
  • 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.
  • 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.