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June 22, 2020

Giving notebook: United Way STEM funding, Coffee By Design arts grants

Photo of a child drawing Photo / Joel Ellis Brown for Side x Side A Skillin Elementary School student illustrates a scene from the Dakar Rally as part of a collaboration between Learning Works and Side x Side, which were among organizations awarded funding from United Way's Brick & Bream Society announced this week.

United Way of Greater Portland's Brick and Beam Society on Friday announced investments of $26,500 to support summer programs and those that target early childhood learning and science, technology, engineering and match programming for children from preschool through eighth grade.

Recipients include LearningWorks, Side x Side and the Telling Room, which will receive $20,000 for a collaborative summer program for elementary students; and the Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton, which was awarded $6,500 for Camp Invention Scholarships.

In response to the pandemic, these programs quickly adjusted their models to ensure children could still virtually connect during summer months, United Way noticed in a news release, adding that " summer learning and engagement are even more critical this summer to help prevent or lessen the impact of summer learning loss.

All shifted their programming to a virtual model.

“Brick & Beam Society is focused on work and programs that help to ensure youth thrive, said aid Eric Sharkey, who chairs Brick & Beam Society 's impact investment committee, in a news release.

"Through our summer investments geared towards educational enrichment opportunities that provide access to STEM/STEAM based programs and literacy support, we are helping to ensure that children get a strong start." We are passionate about and grateful for programs that allow us to leverage our dollars to make the most meaningful impact.” 

Brick & Beam Society investments are funded through member donations and decided on by member volunteers. Investments are chosen based on their alignment with United Way long-goals laid out in a plan called Thrive2027 and their ability to support early literacy and STEM programming for kids in Cumberland County.  

Rebel with a cause 

Coffee By Design, a Portland-based coffee company that has contributed more than $95,000 to Maine nonprofit art organizations since it was founded in 1994, has extended the application deadline for this year's Rebel Fund Grant program.

Barista wearing mask and holding Rebel Blend coffee packages
Courtesy/Coffee By Design
Coffee By Design barista Fiona Twombley displays a package of Rebel Blend coffee.

Rebel Fund Grants are awarded annually to Maine artists and small arts organizations selected by a committee of Coffee By Design employees, who review all applications and determine where the grant money will be most beneficial.

Coffee By Design funds the grants through sales of its Rebel Blend coffee, which combines beans grown in Asia, the Americas and Africa, with $1 from each pound sold or brewed in its coffeehouses going into the fund. The total amount from yearly sales is disbursed to the winners.

Last year's recipients included Gateway Community Services, which received 1,200 to help fund a Portland Hub Youth-led Community Mural, and Dignity Maine, which received $2,000 for "Pieces of Recovery: The Puzzle Project."

Coffee By Design, founded, owned and run by Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear, operates a roastery and coffeehouse at 1 Diamond St. in Portland. It has two other locations in Portland, on India and Congress streets, as well as inside L.L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport. 

To be considered for Rebel Blend funding, applicants must submit art projects within Maine along with a detailed description of how their projects would benefit from the grant money. Applications are accepted online.

Lindemann was honored as Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2019, 14 years after she and Spear were recognized as Mainebiz Business Leaders of the Year.

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