It is time.

Black Lives Matter

Dear Community:

Black lives matter. It’s easy to say these words, and ever so important in this moment. But it’s not enough.

As a community, we recognize that this is a transformational moment. Now is not the time to rest, but the time to work.

Today, we make the following commitments:

We will support Black-led organizing, activism, and advocacy: We are excited to announce that Maine Initiatives is making an immediate contribution totaling $20,000 to four Black-led organizations. They are: BLM-Portland, the For Us By Us Fund, the Maine Black Caucus, and Racial Equity and Justice. After conversations with each of these organizations, we have heard and honor the ways in which they are playing critical roles elevating Black voices and demands for what a just and equitable Maine must look like. We encourage you to support them as well.

We will continue to call for criminal justice reform: In addition to our existing funding commitments in support of decarceration, Maine Initiatives is making an immediate investment of $5,000 in Maine Youth Justice, a multi-racial, youth-led campaign calling for an end to youth incarceration in Maine and the closure of Long Creek Youth Development Center.

We will mobilize more support – money, resources and power – on behalf of racial justice work: We will continue to advocate for increased funding and other resources directed to organizations led by and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through our work with donors and partners in philanthropy. These are the leaders shining a light on the path to a better future.

At Maine Initiatives, our work is at the intersection of philanthropy and racial justice, which has always been a place of contradiction. Philanthropy is rooted in the idea of “love for humanity.” But even when we pursue a noble mission, we can perpetuate and reinforce power imbalances rooted in white supremacy and predatory capitalism.

Four years ago, we made a commitment to put racial justice in Maine at the center of our work. And we asked you – our community – to join us. And you did. Since 2016, because of your support, we have made $1,828,701 in grants to 61 organizations across Maine that are working on issues of racial justice and equity. But we know we can do more.

We affirm that Black Lives Matter. We honor the work of and by Black and Indigenous communities that continue to be undervalued and underfunded in Maine. We recognize the legacy of genocide, colonization, and slavery in our state. We acknowledge that this legacy continues to impact these communities in ways that have not been adequately recognized or addressed, despite extraordinary leadership from these communities.

It is our responsibility to do more than speak words and names.

Now is the time to put our money where our mouth is. Now is the time to dismantle the racist beliefs and systems that continue to oppress Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. Now is the time to recognize that we all have a stake in this, and that racism dehumanizes us all.

In Solidarity,

The Board and Staff of Maine Initiatives

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