Community Foundation Grants at Work

Waldo County Fund: 25 years and Growing

Basic needs, social justice, land conservation, arts, culture, and education: The Waldo County Fund has supported nonprofits working in these and other fields for a quarter century. The fund, established at the community foundation in 1990, has awarded 268 grants that total more than $550,000 to 165 organizations across the region.

This year, the volunteer committee that oversees the Waldo County Fund is working to build its resources through a special 25th anniversary campaign. Part of that effort includes meeting a generous challenge grant from the Unity Foundation: all 2015 contributions to the fund will be matched 1:1, up to $25,000.

The Waldo County Committee recently made nine grants that totaled $44,149, plus four grants that totaled $11,694 from MaineCF donor-advised funds. Grantees include: the Belfast Museum, Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance, Water Street Learning Center, Friends of Midcoast Maine, Unity Barn Raisers, and Our Town Belfast.

Addressing Challenges: Maine Policy Scholars 2015

Nutrition education in public schools, assessing unmet need for opioid addiction treatment in Maine, obstacles facing dairy farmers these are some of the issues Maine Policy Scholars explored this year in policy memos directed to state leadership.

Established by Peter Cox (1937-2004), co-founder of Maine Times, the Maine Policy Scholars program engages University of Maine students in the public policy process.

The scholars presented their research, and suggestions for addressing these issues during a graduation ceremony this month at the University of Maine in Orono. They outlined their policy recommendations to a panel that included Dovey Balsam, 2013 alumnus, Maine Policy Scholars Program; Seth Goodall, regional director, Small Business Administration; James Page, chancellor, University of Maine; and Tony Cox, business owner and son of program founder Peter Cox.

The Class of 2015 includes Victoria Boone, University of Maine, Machias; Alexandra Courtney, University of Maine, Orono; Kasandra Foster, University of Maine, Presque Isle; Travis Powers, University of Maine, Fort Kent; Andrew Radford, University of Maine, Augusta; and Charles Young, University of Maine, Farmington.

Here, Victoria Boone offers suggestions for improving entrepreneurial outcomes in Washington County.

Photo James Daigle

Wanted: Innovative Teachers

From greenhouses to guitars, Dave and Sandy Perloff understand what motivates Maine students to learn: inspiring, innovative teachers, and hands-on involvement.

For the past 15 years the Perloffs have shared over $1 million in grants with more than 500 K-12 teachers in Maine. Their FastTrack Grant Program, which is now accepting applications, has funded STEM, arts, reading, ecology, and physical education programs. 

Recipients of their STEM4ME grants often work in small teams to create real-world solutions, lessons that become even more critical as the state’s need for STEM workers continues to grow. A recent report from Maine’s Department of Labor estimates the number of science- and technology-related jobs is expected to rise 6.5 percent from 2012 to 2022 – nearly three times the rate for all occupations. The state is now considering a plan to offer interest-free loans to students who study science or technology.

The couple also see the fun in learning: They visit every Maine project twice a year to watch their grants in action. Their eyes light up as they describe students working to restore Maine’s bluebird population, creating a greenhouse, or even building their own guitars. 

Projects they fund “should be something a teacher always wanted to do,” says Sandy. And – one teacher at a time – the Perloffs empower educators to help that happen.

Photo: Noble High School senior Mike Lavigne shows Sandy and Dave Perloff some guitars in different stages of completion. The Perloffs provided grants to fund the class at the North Berwick school and hundreds of other Maine projects. Photo by John Patriquin, courtesy Portland Press Herald

Grants to Green Maine

Launched last year, the Maine Community Foundation’s Grants to Green program is actively helping nonprofits across the state improve energy conservation. In addition to providing matching assessment grants for energy audits, the program awards matching implementation grants for energy efficiency renovations to historic downtown buildings.

Grants to Green awarded its first two implementation grants to the Island Institute and Unity College. These grants will help the organizations spend less on energy costs and free up revenue for programming.

A new report from the Maine Development Foundation, Energy in Maine, underscores how continuing improvements in efficiency and further diversification can give Maine people and businesses more options and greater flexibility to adjust to changing energy markets. The report is available online at

For eligibility information and the grant application schedule for Grants to Green, visit the Maine Development Foundation’s website. The next deadline for assessment grants is June 12; the deadline for implementation grants is September 11.

Photo: The Island Institute in Rockland

Adding Up the Impact

Did you know that one in seven Maine workers is employed by a nonprofit? According to the Maine Association of Nonprofits’ new report Maine Nonprofits at Work: Adding Up the Impact, more than 84,000 Mainers work in health centers, parks, theaters, social justice organizations, museums, and other community resources developed and supported by Maine’s nonprofit sector.

The report highlights the vital work of a number of Maine nonprofits, including Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Wayfinder Schools, Penobscot East Resource Center, Stepping Stones USA, Oasis Health Network, and Maine Quality Counts. According to a Maine News Service story, one of the nonprofits featured in the report, Heart of Biddeford, has helped attract 57 new businesses to its community.

The Maine Community Foundation is a sponsor of the report, along with the Unity Foundation and the Maine Health Access Fund.Infographics courtesy MANP

Scholarship Season - It's Time to Apply

With more than 500 scholarships, the Maine Community Foundation offers financial aid to students across the state pursuing a wide range of educational opportunities.The “scholarship season” at MaineCF is under way—it’s time to apply.

Scholarship Manager Cherie Galyean offers some tips for students looking for scholarships in this online article written by a former Gannett Journalism Scholarship recipient. The Finance Authority of Maine, or FAME, is offering in-person college financial aid sessions through the month of February.

The winter edition of Maine Ties, MaineCF’s newsletter, is focused on education. Highlights include a “call to education” by MaineCF President and CEO Meredith Jones, and a special feature on the Worthington Scholarship Fund, which benefits students at Oceanside High School East in Rockland.

Caption: Students at Oceanside High School East.

Photo Jim Dugan

Media is the Message

Visual storytelling is at the center of education at Maine Media Workshops + College in Rockport, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Dedicated to fostering “creativity, culture, and human communication in the world,” the school provides degree and certificate programs, workshops, intensives, and cooperative labs for students pursuing work in fine arts and media-related professions.

MMWC transferred five scholarship funds to MaineCF for management in 2013-2014. These funds honor distinguished professors and photographers associated with the school. The community foundation now manages more than 200 nonprofit funds and more than 450 scholarships.

Photo:  A student learns to use a STEADICAM rig from the back of a pick-up. Photo © Devin Altobello


Living History in Bridgton

Third-graders in Bridgton can add time traveling to their list of accomplishments this year, thanks to a handful of local elders who brought history to life at Stevens Brook Elementary School. The students interviewed their neighbors for firsthand stories of days past, from the rules of schoolyard marble games to secrets of haying with a scythe. They wrote in their journals about the old mill, examined old photos, and drew pictures as they studied murals of artist Rufus Porter.

“Murals and Scythes,” their weeks-long history lesson, was part of the Local Stories Project, funded by a grant from a MaineCF donor. Students step away from their desks to become historians, artists, and performers, guided by visiting artists who help direct the hands-on approach to learning.

Photo: Third-grade students are fascinated by an old, portable typewriter. Photo courtesy Laurie Downey

Dar no cuesta nada

"Dar no cuesta nada—To give doesn’t cost a thing.” That’s what inaugural poet Richard Blanco’s mother used to tell him when he was young.

In a recent post on his Facebook page, Blanco wrote, “Naturally, I thought of her when asked to participate in the Voices of Giving project [on Maine Public Radio]. I think writing is a kind of giving. I write, not just to tell my story, but with the hope that my words may give others something meaningful to their own stories and lives.”

Throughout November, in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation, MPBN is broadcasting “Voices of Giving.” Audio diarists include Senator George Mitchell, community catalyst Maddy Corson, and MaineCF President Meredith Jones and her grandson Harris Eagle.

The Voices of Giving segments are archived on the MPBN website. MPBN is also soliciting and posting stories of giving from listeners.

Blanco was also the community foundation’s special guest for its 11th annual Inspiring Philanthropy evening on November 18. You can hear his talk and see some photos from the event here.

Photo: Gabe Souza

A Century of Helping Neighbors


Just imagine an endowment that supports watering troughs for horses… or an “orphan asylum” for girls whose fathers died in on-the-job railroad accidents.

Such charitable bequests that outlived their usefulness or challenged community values didn’t sit well with Frederick H. Goff, a Cleveland banker and estate attorney. His solution: a “community chest” that would benefit generations to come.

Goff’s idea 100 years ago inspired the world’s first community foundation. One of its first undertakings, launched just weeks after creation, was “a great social and economic survey of Cleveland, to uncover the causes of poverty and crime and point out the cure.”

Today the Cleveland Foundation has awarded over $1 billion in grants and spawned more than 1,800 community foundations. Foundations large and small now benefit communities in Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, South America, and Australia. In the last fiscal year alone, they awarded almost $5 billion in grants.

While the Maine Community Foundation is much younger at 31, its annual income already ranks in the top 12 percent of community foundations. This year, the foundation’s assets reached $400 million with nearly 1,500 funds. MaineCF distributed $22 million in grants and scholarships in 2013.

Every gift to a community foundation can change a life. You can share your story or learn how community foundations are building a better world on the new Community Foundation Atlas website.

Photo: Frederick H. Goff, father of the community foundation. Photo courtesy the Cleveland Foundation.

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