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Participatory Grantmaking

Participatory grantmaking is the engine of our broader community organizing and engagement strategy. It is essential to the ethics of our work within Maine’s current communities, ongoing evolution, and future.

The participatory process was piloted and refined within our Grants for Change program. It combines hundreds of volunteer Readers across the state who read and evaluate submitted applications, with a Grantmaking Advisory Committee of over 40 community leaders who convene to build relationships, discuss, deliberate and decide the final grantees for each year’s cohort.

Cohort: Maine Initiatives invests in a robust framework of grantee convening, community-building and capacity building support as an essential element of each of our grantmaking programs. Grantee cohorts participate in a three-year program of convening and capacity-building that strengthens and deepens the connections within the grantee community, raises the profile of the cohort members in the broader community, and increases the organizational capacity of grantee partners to achieve their unique missions.

Rapid Response Efforts

Maine has experienced an influx of immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers fleeing genocide, oppression, and extreme poverty in the past decade. State and municipal governments and traditional philanthropy have not provided sufficient resources to meet the urgent needs of these communities. The Immigrant-Led organizations Fund at Maine Initiatives has led multiple rounds of rapid response funding during these crises to support Immigrant-Led Organizations filling the direct service gap for these new Mainers: responding to the 2017 Muslim Ban; to the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19; and to on-going, multi-year Asylum Seeker Crisis Support efforts.

Ethical Investment Policy

Maine Initiatives' goal is to align the investment portfolio with its mission. A fully mission-aligned investment strategy is intended to reinforce the social, economic, and environmental justice values that are central to our work. We pursue a socially responsible investment strategy that incorporates positive and negative screening, investing for impact, and shareholder advocacy, and generates a perpetual source of capital for operational expenses. We choose to invest in companies that match our values, particularly those supporting alternative energy solutions; sustainable agriculture, water, and food systems; energy efficiency and pollution prevention; and workforce dignity, diversity, and health. We choose not to invest in companies that engage in discriminatory or predatory lending; weapons or firearms production; employee discrimination or other human rights issues; and production of fossil fuels. Maine Initiatives also places up to 10% of endowed funds in low-interest, mission aligned, local investments. Such investments are currently held with Four Directions Development Corporation, Genesis Loan Fund, and the Cooperative Fund of the NorthEast.