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Updated: September 22, 2023 Commentary

Commentary: Maine Community Foundation continues to adapt to the needs in Maine

In 1983, Joseph Brennan was governor of Maine, the Dow Jones closed at 1258, the finale of M*A*S*H aired. And the first seeds of the Maine Community Foundation were planted through philanthropically minded community leaders.

As the years passed, MaineCF opened new county funds and new scholarships, and we worked with donors and non-profits to make hundreds of grants.

Laura Lee

Now, MaineCF’s grants, scholarships and philanthropic opportunities reach every county in Maine with the aim of strengthening communities and improving the quality of life here, and in 2023, some $600 million in grants later, MaineCF still strives every day to fulfill the vision of bringing people and resources together to build a better state.

But even as MaineCF’s grantmaking has grown, the needs and challenges in our communities do too.

This trend begs the question, how can we truly make large-scale change if these needs persist — or even increase?

Our answer: working together, across sectors and focusing on impact.

Recently, MaineCF has been going beyond grants to focus on building capacity for partner agencies and communities focused on early childhood education, workforce development, racial equity, healthy aging and entrepreneurship. And we’re going to work even harder at being a community partner: bringing together people from nonprofits, businesses, public policy and philanthropy, mobilizing funding and other resources, engaging local voices and bringing an equity lens to all our work.

We’re taking the time now to listen and hear from all these stakeholders to identify current challenges and opportunities and where and how we can make the greatest impact; MaineCF is at the crossroads of philanthropy, funding, local needs and expertise and the big issues. And when these areas are determined, we will fund and fundraise, we will partner, we will leverage our vast network of local connections, we will amplify voices and we will dig in to make real, lasting change on “the big stuff.”

Sometimes, MaineCF can bring funding to bear to address our challenges. Other times, we can leverage others’ philanthropy or policy prowess. Still others, we may quietly take a back seat while others lead, and we provide capacity, space and thought leadership – those obstacles significant enough to prevent a better quality of life will take a collective of people and organizations all committed to playing a role toward a shared goal of building a better Maine.

We care about all people in Maine and want to partner with others to create significant and lasting change in our home — we are excited for the possibilities and hope you will join us in building for the big stuff.

Laura Lee is VP of community impact at Maine Community Foundation

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