Racial Justice Fund

Racial Justice Fund

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.

Please see the grant guidelines for the second grant round of the Racial Justice Fund (Application period: June 1 – June 15, 2022) here.

FMI: Contact Michelle G. Draeger, Executive Director: 207-620-1351, mdraeger@justicemaine.org or Linsey MacDougall, Development and Programs Manager: 207-620-1354, lmacdougall@justicemaine.org

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

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 Stinchfield
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 Director Mathew Scease.


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.