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Official Press Release: Grants for Change Announcement

Maine Initiatives Awards $250,000 to Racial Justice and Equity Organizations Across Maine

Brunswick, ME–Maine Initiatives, a community-based foundation, today announced the ten organizations selected to receive the 2016 racial justice and equity Grants for Change. The winning cohort was chosen through a radically participatory grantmaking process.

Recognized for their efforts to address racial justice and racial equity issues across Maine, the cohort of ten organizations will work together over three years to build and strengthen a racial justice and equity sector in our state: the individuals, organizations, activists, and donors committed to and actively advancing racial justice for all Mainers. The 2016 racial justice and equity Grants for Change Cohort members are: In Her Presence, Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Maine Inside Out, Maine-Wabanaki REACH, Mano en Mano, Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows, New Mainers Tenants’ Association, Raise-Op Housing Cooperative, Somali Bantu Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston/Auburn, and Tree Street Youth.

Each cohort member will receive a $25,000 general operating grant, will participate in the cohort learning community, and work in tangent to explore the many ways Mainers can advance racial justice and equity throughout Maine.

Each of these 10 organizations embody a unique approach to racial justice and racial equity issues in Maine.” said Maine Initiatives Executive Director Phil Walsh.  “Chosen through a radically participatory community-based process, Maine Initiatives hopes this cohort will offer all Mainers inspiration and opportunities to advance justice and equity. We encourage you to explore each organization’s work, and to get involved as a volunteer, donor, and advocate for racial justice and racial equity in our great state.”

The ten cohort members were chosen from a pool of 60 applicant organizations through a radically participatory grantmkaing process. 159 Mainers formed a cross-class, cross-cultural team to review and evaluate proposal and submitted reviews which were used by the 40 person Grantmaking Committee, made up of Maine Initiatives board members, donors, past grantees, and a collection of community members with lived or learned experience with racial justice, to make the final decisions.

There is no one organization alone that is solving the issues of racial injustice and inequity in our state. Approaches vary and every organization plays an important role in building a more just and equitable Maine. Each of the ten grantees take a unique approach to these issues and Maine Initiatives encourages the community to explore each individually and as a member of the cohort.

In Her Presence : Organized and led by immigrant women living in Maine, In Her Presence strives to bring together immigrant women from across communities and generations to ensure that Maine’s economic agenda includes the aspirations and needs of immigrant women. IHP creates spaces that support women’s empowerment and personal ambitions without losing their unique identity and connects immigrant women and girls for collective empowerment in their communities to address common challenges and issues.

Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition : The Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition strives to improve the legal, social and economic conditions experienced by Maine’s Immigrants – enhancing their lives and strengthening Maine – through advocacy, information sharing, and fostering collaboration among member organizations.

Maine Inside Out : Maine Inside Out initiates dialogue, develops leadership, and builds community across boundaries with collaborative original theater, inside and outside correctional facilities. They are committed to dismantling all forms of oppression and building a movement for transformative justice in our communities.

Maine-Wabanaki REACH : Maine-Wabanaki REACH advances Wabanaki self-determination by strengthening the cultural, spiritual and physical well being of Native people in Maine. They see a future where Maine and Wabanaki people join together, acknowledging truth, promoting healing and creating change. REACH initiated the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and supported the Commission as it worked in Wabanaki and Maine communities.

Mano en Mano : Mano en Mano builds a stronger and more inclusive Downeast Maine by working with diverse populations to provide educational and affordable housing opportunities, remove barriers to health and social services, and advocate for social justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows : The Martin Luther King Jr. Fellows (King Fellows) advance racial equity and social justice through a multidimensional enrichment and leadership program for youth of color dedicated to systems reform.

New Mainers Tenants’ Association : The New Mainers Tenants’ Association (NMTA) creates housing justice through empowerment-based education, outreach, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy on behalf of the new Mainers communities.

Raise-Op Housing Cooperative : Raise­-Op provides housing where Social and Financial Equity can be developed and sustained for all current and future members. The four principles that support this mission are: Respect for other people and cooperative property; Accountability to the cooperative and to each other; Integration across different social groups; Solidarity with individual members who face various social and economic challenges, and ​Solidarity ​with the movement for safe and affordable housing.

Somali Bantu Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston/Auburn : The Somali Bantu Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston/Auburn (SBCMALA) assists members of the refugee community at large on housing, employment, literacy and education, health, and safety matters. This includes empowering children and families to achieve lifelong success through personal and social change, by providing them with information about how to connect to a new life in the United States.

Tree Street Youth : Tree Street Youth Center supports the youth of Lewiston-Auburn through academics, the arts and athletics while providing a safe space that encourages healthy physical, social, emotional, and academic development while building unity across lines of difference.  

Learn more about the Grants for Change prorgam and Maine Initiatives at


About Maine Initiatives:

Maine Initiatives, a fund for change, cultivates social, economic, and environmental justice through grants and other support to grassroots organizations in Maine communities. We are a community of more than 2,000 individual donors and activists supporting greater social, economic, and environmental justice in Maine through informed, intentional, and collective philanthropy.

We are a progressive foundation. We make grants to fund and strengthen nonprofit organizations that are advancing social, economic, and environmental justice from the grassroots up.

We are a public foundation. We make grants with the money we raise from the community, pooling large and small donations from many supporters.

We are the people’s foundation. We are a community of individuals engaging and expressing their progressive values with intention, with information, and with each other.


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