Lesley Fernow of Maine Highlands Senior Center presents at a recent FrameWorks workshop
 where 60 participants learned how to communicate more effectively about aging. Photo Thalassa Raasch/MaineCF


MaineCF kicked off its Reframing Aging Initiative last September at the Maine Summit on Aging with a keynote and sessions by Dr. Julie Sweetland of FrameWorks Institute. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit uses empirically driven communications to make academic research more understandable. This spring MaineCF hosted 50 participants from Maine’s aging advocacy community and 10 from New Hampshire for training about FrameWorks’ communications recommendations related to aging and older people. Senior Program Officer Laura Lee will make a presentation about the initiative next fall at the national Grantmakers in Aging conference in Memphis, Tennessee.

MaineCF’s Maine Charity Foundation Fund also turned its focus to older adults and awarded 19 grants totaling more than $78,000 to projects that increase access to resources, engage people in healthy pursuits, provide transportation, and reduce isolation.

MaineCF continued support for the Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging, which provides learning opportunities across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.


MaineCF launched its goal to provide all Maine children a healthy start last November at the Invest in Maine summit. More than 400 people gathered in Bangor to explore how early childhood experiences lay the foundation for future success and the connection between the well-being of young children and the health of Maine's economy.

A new MaineCF program awarded six early childhood planning grants that will allow communities to gather data about their 0-5 age population, map community resources, identify barriers, and develop local solutions. The first cohort of the program, announced in May, are:

  • Presque Isle (Aroostook County Action Program)
  • Blue Hill Peninsula and islands (Healthy Peninsula)
  • Portland (Starting Strong)
  • Dover-Foxcroft and Highlands region (United Way of Eastern Maine)
  • Biddeford (United Way of York County)
  • Wabanaki people (Wabanaki Health and Wellness).

MaineCF also is a funding partner of Right From the Start, a coalition of early childhood advocates working to educate state legislators and create a platform of policy recommendations.


MaineCF continues to build on the momentum of our inaugural summit about white privilege with new programs related to racial equity. We have met with nearly 100 people across the state for feedback about our strategies. Planned initiatives include:

  • Impact Academy for Leaders of Color, a capacity-building program designed for leaders of color working on issues of racial equity
  • Maine Equity Catalyst Fellows Program, a peer-learning community for white leaders of Maine organizations and institutions to reflect on their experiences with race
  • An internal assessment of how MaineCF currently supports racial equity and ways to improve and expand its efforts.

MaineCF and other organizations also hosted a capacity crowd in February at the University of Southern Maine to hear John Biewen, creator of the “Seeing White” documentary radio series, and his regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, speak about Northern racism and whiteness.


In 2017 MaineCF joined education and business leaders in the new MaineSpark coalition that is working to ensure Maine’s workforce has the skills necessary to meet challenges of the current and future economy. The coalition has adopted a statewide goal: 60 percent of Mainers will hold education and workforce credentials and be positioned for success by 2025.

Two regions, Lewiston-Auburn and Kennebec Valley, will pilot the Maine Adult Promise (MAP) program. MAP will test how regional networks and local expertise can help adult learners return to school, with the goal of increasing college degrees or credentials by 63,200 over the next decade.

MaineCF also conducted an emergency needs survey to better understand what assistance students may require to stay in school. Assessment of how Maine campuses handle emergency needs will help identify nontraditional ways to assist students.


MaineCF is moving forward with efforts to better understand rural entrepreneurial networks, expand rural broadband services, and strengthen prospects for Downeast innovation. Initiatives include:

  • Research about ways entrepreneurs and innovators in rural areas are connecting with one another, resources, and markets
  • Grant support for a study in three Maine communities that will assess integrating utilities to expand rural broadband
  • A pilot program and multi-year partnership with Machias Savings Bank to strengthen the Downeast entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Grants to Blue Hill Consolidated School for a public Fab Lab/makerspace; to Dorcas Library to develop an entrepreneurship incubator program on the Schoodic Peninsula; and to MainStream Finance to expand its business and entrepreneurship classes and microbusiness technical assistance services to Hancock and Washington counties
  • Support for events across the state that celebrate entrepreneurs and innovation.

    - Andrea Nemitz