Create a $50 Million Nonprofit Relief Fund NOW

Dear Ms. Laurie Lachance, Mr. Josh Broder, Mr. Bill Burke, and the members of the Economic Recovery Committee, 

We, the undersigned members of Maine’s nonprofit and philanthropic community, recognize that grassroots and community-based nonprofit organizations are on the front lines of our state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. These organizations are extraordinarily effective and efficient service providers who have the experience to respond directly to the basic needs of Mainers across the state. They are rooted in and know their community and have established the relationships and the trust needed to be able to provide critical services in response to unprecedented need. 

As you know, here in Maine, Black communities are experiencing the most disproportionate infection rates in the country, representing just 1.4% of the population, but 23.6% of infection rates as of late June. Black Mainers, New Mainers, Wabanaki, and other people of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with devastating effects: yes, in infection rates, but also in job losses, in housing and food insecurity, and in blame and negative rhetoric. These outcomes are deeply troubling, but they also reflect existing disparities resulting from systemic racism being exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic. 

These communities require an immediate and proportionate response to unacceptably disproportionate negative health outcomes. As such, we call on Governor Mills and the Economic Recovery Committee to allocate $50 million from the CARES Act for community-based and grassroots organizations providing critical emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis and the building of infrastructure that will support this work. These funds should be distributed with specific emphasis on the Black-, New Mainer-, Wabanaki-, Latinx-, and people of color-led and serving organizations who are on the front lines in the communities that are bearing the brunt of this virus.

Putting substantial resources into the hands of organizations led by and serving people of color is the best way to respond to this unacceptable disparity. These organizations are consistently and chronically under-resourced, under-staffed, and under-funded. Now is the time to step up and support these organizations and the communities they represent. 

The philanthropic community is already going to extraordinary measures to support these organizations. Since March, Maine’s philanthropies have mobilized $15.5 million to nonprofits responding to the COVID-19 crisis. However, this is not enough. Nor should it be the only support that these organizations have access to as they do work that belongs to all of us.

For this reason, we call on Governor Mills and the Economic Recovery Committee to take the following immediate actions:

  • Establish a ​Nonprofit Relief Fund​ that will make at least $50 million in CARES Act funding available to small, grassroots and community-based nonprofits here in Maine that are on the front lines of the community response to COVID-19.
  • Give specific priority to Black, Wabanaki, New Mainer and people of color-led and serving organizations in the criteria for distribution of those funds. 

As the Nonprofit Relief Fund begins to take shape, we call on Governor Mills and the Economic Recovery Committee to prioritize the following: 

  • Permit the ​Nonprofit Relief Fund​ to provide general operating support for at least three (3) and up to twelve (12) months in recognition of the negative impact of the pandemic on nonprofits’ revenue streams and the simultaneous increase in demand for new and additional programs and services to meet the basic needs of Mainers across the state.
  • Create authentic and on-going ways for the directly and disproportionately impacted communities’ voices and perspectives to be heard and heeded in the design and implementation of the ​Nonprofit Relief Fund​.
  • Ensure that ​Nonprofit Relief Fund​ is administered by trusted community partners that are able to mobilize resources effectively, efficiently, and in a manner that is culturally and linguistically competent.

This is the time to take seriously the essential work that the nonprofit community does in Maine providing for and meeting the needs of the most disenfranchised among us.  Now is the time to support this work through the Nonprofit Relief Fund.

Duly Signed,

Abbe Museum, Chris Newell, Executive Director and Sr. Partner to Wabanaki Nations

African Women and Development, Esther Kilubu, Executive Director/Founder

Americans Who Tell the Truth, Robert Shetterly, President

Amjambo Africa/Ladder to the Moon Network, Georges Budagu Makoko, Executive Director/Publisher; Kit Harrison, Editor in Chief

Angolan Community of Maine, Nsiona Nguizani, President 

ARRT! (Artists’ Rapid Response Team),  Natasha Mayers, Co-ordinator

ArtVan, Jamie Silvestri, Executive Director and Founder

Avesta Housing, Dana Totman, President/CEO

Black Artist Forum of Maine, Daniel Minter, Director

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine, Brian Elowe, CEO; Karen MacDonald, COO

Cambodian Community Association of Maine, Marpheen Chann, Co-President; Chanbopha Himm, Co-President

Capital Area New Mainers Project, Chris Myers Asch, Executive Director; Sarah Shed , Board Chair

The Catawamteak Fund at the Maine Community Foundation, Joe Higon and Ellen Sudow, donors

Choose Yourself, Judicaelle Irakoze, Executive Director

Coastal Enterprises Inc., Betsy Biemann, CEO

Congolese Community of Maine, Papy Bongibo President

Community Action Works, Dana Colihan, Maine Community Organizer

Community Clinical Services, Coleen L. Elias, Interim CEO/CFO

Community Concepts, Inc., Shawn Yardley, CEO

Community Housing of Maine, Cullen Ryan, Executive Director

Cooking for Community, Ellie Linen Low, Organizer and Strategist

Creative Portland, Dinah Minot, Executive Director

Cross Cultural Community Services, Regina Phillips, Co-Founder; Deqa Dhalac, Co-Founder

Djiboutian American Community Empowerment Project, Hassan Farah Guedi, VP & Program Coordinator

Eastern Woodlands Rematriation, Alivia Moore, Co-Founder

The Ecology School, Drew Dumsch, President & CEO

Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, M. Gabriela Alcalde, Executive Director

Family and Community Mediation, Joyce Wethington Knight, President

Family Leadership Center, Marjie Longshore, Ed.M., Executive Director

The For Us, By Us Fund, Samaa Abdurraqib, Co-Founder

Four Cardinal Points, Jean Claude Ioukanou, President/CEO

Frannie Peabody Center, Katie Rutherford, Executive Director

Furniture Friends, Jenn McAdoo, Executive Director

Gateway Community Services Maine, Kate Fahey, Director of Programs

Genesis Fund, Liza Fleming-Ives, Executive Director

Good Shepherd Food Bank

Greater Portland Landmarks, Sarah Hansen, Executive Director

Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, Shima Kabirigi and Mary Allen Lindemann, Co-Chairs and the full staff and Board

Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Kelli McCannell, Executive Director

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Paul Sacaridiz, Executive Director

Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, Shenna Bellows,Executive Director; Nancy Spiegel, Board President; Tam Huynh, Board Vice President, Sheri Stevens, Board Secretary; Jenna Vendil, Board Treasurer

Homeless Advocacy for All, William E Higgins Jr.

Hope Acts, Martha Stein, Executive Director

Hudson Foundation, Gillian B. Schair, President; Erica Schair-Cardona

I’m Your Neighbor Books, Kirsten Cappy, Executive Director

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Sue Roche, Executive Director

In Her Presence, Abusana Micky Bondo, Co-Founder; Claudette Ndayininahaze, Co-Founder

Indigo Arts Alliance, Marcia and Daniel Minter, Co-Founders

Intercultural Community Center, Arthur Sabiti, Executive Director

League of Women Voters of Maine/Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, Anna Kellar, Executive Director

LearningWorks, Heather Davis, Executive Director

Land in Common, Ethan Miller, Organizational Development Coordinator

Locker Project, Kathryn Sargent, Executive Director

Mabel Wadsworth Center, Andrea Irwin, Executive Director

Main Street Bucksport, Brook Ewing Minner, Founding Executive Director

Maine Audubon, Andrew Beahm, Executive Director

Maine Business Immigration Coalition, Beth Stickney, Esq, Executive Director

Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence

Maine Episcopal Network for Justice, John Hennessy, Director

Maine Environmental Education Association, Olivia Griset, Executive Director

Maine Family Planning, George Hill, President/CEO

Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services, Rilwan Osman, Executive Director; Abdikadir Negeye, Assistant Director

Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Mufalo Chitam, Executive Director

Maine Initiatives, Philip Walsh, Executive Director; Suzy Sonenberg, Board Chair; Maine Initiatives full staff and Board

Maine Inside Out, Margot Fine, Co-Director

Maine Justice Foundation, Michelle Draeger, Executive Director

Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, Joseph Jackson, Director; Whitney Parrish, Policy & Communications Coordinator; Irving Faunce, Board Chair/Treasurer

Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, Juliet Holmes-Smith, Executive Director

Maine Women’s Fund, Gabrielle Gallucci, Co-President; Janice Rogers, Co-President; Kimberly Crichton, Executive Director; Amy Holland, Operations Director

Maine Women’s Lobby & MWL Education Fund, Destie Hohman Sprague, Executive Director

Maine Youth Court, Michael D Fresinger, Director

MidCoast New Mainers Group, Carol Kalajainen, Steering Committee

Midcoast Conservancy, Jody Jones, Executive Director

Midcoast Indigenous Awareness Group, Mia Beale, Cathey Cyrus, Ron Siviski, Rocky Coastlines, Steering Committee Members

Midcoast Literacy, Donald L. Lader, Jr., Executive Director

Natural Resources Council of Maine, Lisa Pohlmann, CEO

Nature Based Education Consortium, Nathan Broaddus, Manager

New England Arab American Organization, Zoe Sahloul, Director

New Mainers Public Health Initiative, Abdulkerim Said, BAS, Executive Director

New Mainers Resource Center at Portland Adult Education, Sally Sutton, Program Coordinator

The New School

New Ventures Maine, Gilda E. Nardone, Executive Director

Nibezun, Seth Weiner, Executive Director

Open Door Meditation Community, Alexis Santos and Susa Talan, Co-Founders

Operation Breaking Stereotypes, Connie Carter, Director

Oxford County Wellness Collaborative, Brendan Schauffler, Network Facilitator

Oxford Hills Community Gardens dba Alan Day Community Garden, Rocky Crockett, Executive Director

Partnership for Children’s Oral Health, Becca Matusovich, Executive Director

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Nicole Clegg, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs

Portland Outright, Osgood, Executive Director

Portland Museum of Art, Mark H.C. Bessire, Judy and Leonard Lauder Director

Portland Wheelers, Doug Malcolm, RN, Founder / Executive Director

Power in Community Alliances, Karen Volckhausen and Katherine Kates, Co Presidents

Preble Street, Heather Zimmerman, Advocacy Director

Prevention. Action. Change., Clara Porter, Director

Project GRACE, Stephanie Cox, Executive Director

ProsperityME, Claude Rwaganje, Executive Director

Ready, Set, THrive! and The Harriet Tubman Moment Coalition, Keita Whitten, Founder

Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, Ryun Anderson, Executive Director; full Board of Directors

Rise and Shine Youth Retreat, Nicole Mokeme, Executive Director

Rocking Moon Foundation, Joe Higdon, Board Chair; Ellen Sudow, Vice Chair

Rwandese Community Association of Maine, Antoine Bikamba, President

St. Mary’s Health System, Steve Jorgensen, President

St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Kirsten Walter, Director

Solstice Fund, Bill Creighton, donor

Somali Bantu Community Association of Maine, Muhidin Libah, Executive Director

Somali Community Center of Maine, Mohamud Hassan, President; Deqa Dhalac, Treasurer

South Portland Human Rights Commission

South Sudanese Community Association of Maine, John Ochira, President

Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative, Jessica Burton, Executive Director

Spurwink, Eric Meyer, President & CEO

STAGES Youth Theater, Hollye Seddon, Board Member

Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization, Mohamed Dekow, Executive Director; Abdikadir Negeye, Development Director

Teens to Trails, Alicia Heyburn, Executive Director

The Telling Room, Celine Bourke Kuhn, Executive Director; Sonya Tomlinson, Young Writers and Leaders Program Lead

The Third Place, Adilah Muhammad, Founder & President

317 Main Community Music Center, John Williams, Executive Director

350 Maine

United Way of Greater Portland, Liz Cotter Schlax, President & CEO 

United Way of York County, Brian Petrovek, President & CEO

United Youth Empowerment Services, Omar Hassan, Co-Founder

Up With Community, Nicola Chin, Founder

Volunteers of America Northern New England, Richard A. Hooks Wayman, President & CEO

Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, Jane Root, Executive Director

Welcoming the Stranger, Amy Titcomb,Coordinator

YWCA Central Maine, Melanie LaMore Gagnon, Executive Director

YWCA Mount Desert Island, Jackie Davidson, Executive Director

 

(signatures as of 7/9/20, to be added to the list of signatories email Andrea Berry at andrea@maineinitiatives.org)

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