Updated: Corporate and Philanthropic Leaders Donate $270,000 to Launch Racial Justice Fund

10 September 2020 , Posted in: Press Release

Hallowell, ME – Corporations and philanthropic leaders across Maine have joined forces to raise $270,000 to combat racial injustice and inequity throughout the state through the Racial Justice Fund of the Maine Justice Foundation. These corporate FOUNDERS and civic leaders are as follows:

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 22 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. The Maine Justice Foundation expresses its profound gratitude for their generosity and commitment. Michelle G. Draeger, Executive Director of the Maine Justice Foundation said: “By supporting the Fund, each of these organizations has recognized that it will take money as well as public support to fully address racial injustice in Maine. The State of Maine is lucky to have such generous and forward-thinking executives leading these organizations.”

In addition, the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation has stepped forward with a major grant to help launch the Racial Justice Fund. The Maine Justice Foundation will continue to seek donations to increase the Fund.

The Racial Justice Fund at the Maine Justice Foundation will support education and advocacy aimed at achieving racial justice, equity and eliminating racism. The goal of the Fund is to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color and to forge social, systemic, and economic solutions to combat racism in our culture, organizations and systems in Maine.

“A critical dialogue about race discrimination is occurring across our nation and state, in our workplaces and inside our homes,” said Draeger. “It is before us as a result of countless public acts of violence against Black Americans who are engaging in the simple pursuit of daily liberties – watching birds in a park, jogging in the afternoon, sitting in a car, simply trying to breathe. Fundamental change is necessary if we finally want to become a country where every citizen is afforded the freedom of liberty and equal justice, without regard to differences in race. As an institution concerned with equal access to the legal system, the foundation has a responsibility to address racial injustice. As a historically white organization, we also have a responsibility to change and to lead change.”

An Advisory Committee has been created to formulate the specific goals of the Fund, issue a request for proposals and recommend grants. The current members are: co-chairs Dr. Evelyn Silver and the Honorable John Jenkins, Tim Dentry, Michael-Corey Hinton. Mary Herman, Prof. Marcelle Medford, Angela Okafor, Reginald Parson, Francys Perkins , Spencer Thibodeau, Bill Harwood and Janis Cohen.

Co-chair John Jenkins said, “As a private citizen and elected official, my life has been committed to ending the pain of racism, in our institutions and in our hearts. In this country and state, my belief is that the last few months have revealed a true turning point. Now is the time to bring all Black, brown and indigenous people fully into the fold of American citizenship, with equity and justice. It’s incumbent upon us now to leverage every ally, every dollar, every talent we have to do so. I’m proud to join this effort and help make that opportunity real.”

For a full description of the Racial Justice Fund and the Advisory Committee members, please visit https://justicemaine.org/grants-and-programs/racial-justice-fund/.

Kevin Hancock, Chairman and CEO of Hancock Lumber, said, “I am really proud that Hancock Lumber can be a part of launching the Racial Justice Fund. The concept and practice of ‘justice for all’ has to meaningfully include every person in our country, and I believe Maine can be a leader in that national effort. There is an ethos of fairness, neighborliness, and inclusiveness towards all in Maine that can serve as a platform for creating a society that aspires to work for everyone and is trusted by everyone. Hancock Lumber is committed to doing our part, both in our business practices and in supporting community efforts for equity and justice.”

The Maine Justice Foundation, founded in 1983 as the Maine Bar Foundation, is the state’s leading funder of civil legal aid for poor and vulnerable Mainers. Find us online and support the Racial Justice Fund at justicemaine.org.

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

Updated on October 7, 2020: The Honorable John Jenkins, co-chair of the Advisory Committee, tragically passed away on September 30. We express our condolences to his family and friends.