Augusta, ME – The Maine Justice Foundation is pleased to announce it has awarded grants from its LGBTQ+ Fund to five Maine organizations for 2023. The LGBTQ+ Fund supports education and advocacy aimed at achieving access to justice and equity for individuals identifying as LGBTQ+. The Fund supports organizations serving members of the LGBTQ+ community by forging social, systemic, and economic solutions to combat discrimination and bias against LGBTQ+ individuals and groups in Maine.
“These grants are a catalyst for change,” said Dana Eidsness, Senior Anti-Hunger Policy Advisor, Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation, and the Future. “Supporting advocacy efforts for just, equitable communities and LGBTQ+ rights is a strategic investment in creating a society that values and celebrates diversity, where all individuals can thrive, contribute, and live authentically. I’m proud to have played a small role in Maine Justice Foundation’s inaugural effort to provide this transformational funding.” Judith Fletcher Woodbury, Board President of the Maine Justice Foundation, adds, “We hope to bring more equity and fairness to this community through the programs to which grants have been made.”
This was the first public request for proposals and open application period for grants from the Fund. The Foundation is issuing five grants for $10,000 each during this grant round. These are the largest grants to date that the Fund has issued to organizations, and the most organizations supported in a single year. Advisory Committee member Joanne Lewis shares, “I am so proud to be part of Maine Justice Foundation and on the advisory committee of the LGBTQ+ fund. The programs receiving funding will assist the LGBTQ+ community across the state of Maine including our youth, those seeking counseling, schools, access to legal assistance, and more. Great things are in store for our community.”
The grantees and the projects supported are:
- NASW (National Association of Social Workers) Maine: A grant to create a training certificate program to be offered for free to behavioral health clinicians and students across Maine to develop skills in working collaboratively with families, schools, primary care, and ancillary providers to better wrap around care for LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Maine TransNet: A grant to expand their work providing cultural competency training to medical and mental health care providers working within the LGBTQ+ community.
- Alfond Youth & Community Center: A grant to support their Folks Organizing Reform for Queer Spaces (FORQS) program which includes a social club for LGBTQ+ teens, professional development to its members and the Maine Queer Convention.
- Equality Maine Foundation: A grant to conduct a feasibility study for an Equality Maine LGBTQ+ legal aid clinic.
- OUT Maine: A grant to support efforts in building inclusive schools through an integrated school climate program to implement best practices of inclusive school environments.
Christopher McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, was thrilled to hear of the grant award and shared, “NASW ME is honored to have received this grant from the Maine Justice Foundation. This award will allow us to develop and deliver LGBTQ+ clinical competency trainings at no charge to social workers, counselors, and clinicians across Maine. Enhancing provider confidence and competence in working with the LGBTQ+ community is essential in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable citizens of Maine receive the highest quality of clinical services at a time when this community needs these services the most. We’re eager to begin the work of celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, as well as those allies who serve these individuals, at a time where sadly, many states are attempting to ban or criminalize the work providers are doing to support and strengthen the LGBTQ+ community.”
The mission of Maine TransNet is to ‘support and empower transgender people to create a world where they can thrive.’ Co-Executive Director Bre Kidman says, “We are so grateful to receive support for a program that will increase access for trans people to vital services statewide! As we continue to expand our training and our outreach to providers, we are excited to narrow the gap between LGBTQIA+ people in need and the affirming, culturally competent care they seek.”
FORQS is an LGBTQ+ advocacy and social club for teens at the Alfond Youth & Community Center (AYCC), the nation’s only combined YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs. FORQS has successfully held the Maine Queer Convention, its largest and most impactful event, for the past two years. The Maine Queer Convention offers LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, school and nonprofit staff, and community members with a safe and supportive environment to discuss issues, plan advocacy work, receive professional development training and forge new friendships. The convention is hosted annually in March at the AYCC’s flagship campus in Waterville. “We are incredibly grateful to the Maine Justice Foundation for this generous grant,” said Avery Ryan, Teen Programs Coordinator and FORQS Advisor, Alfond Youth & Community Center. “Folks Organizing Reform for Queer Spaces (FORQS), our LGBTQ+ advocacy and social club for teens, will use this funding to expand its annual Maine Queer Convention from a Central Maine educational opportunity to a statewide conference for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, school and nonprofit staff, and community members.”
EqualityMaine is the ‘oldest and largest statewide organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Mainers.’ Heide Lester, Development Director for EqualityMaine shares “EqualityMaine is honored and excited to have been awarded funding by the Maine Justice Foundation. With this support, a feasibility study for an LGBTQ+ legal clinic will consider the needs of queer people across all demographics and around the state, with a particular focus on people of color, transgender people, and low-income Mainers. We look forward to further serving our community in partnership with the Maine Justice Foundation.”
The LGBTQ+ Fund of the Maine Justice Foundation was formed by seven founding donors in 2016. The first grants were awarded in 2019. The Fund’s Advisory Committee issued a request for proposals and reviewed applications. The current Advisory Committee members are Judith A. Fletcher Woodbury, retired Partner, Pierce Atwood; Dana Eidsness, Senior Anti-Hunger Policy Advisory, Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation, and the Future; Jessica Feinberg, Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law; Joanne Lewis, Assistant District Attorney, Bangor; and Jessica Mizzi, Coffin Family Law Fellow, Pine Tree Legal Assistance. For a full description of the LGBTQ+ Fund and the advisory committee, please visit https://justicemaine.org/grants-and-programs/lgbt-justice-fund/
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 www.justicemaine.org.