Spotlight on Impact: Run. Learn. Protect.
It has been a very busy fall here at the Fund, with visits to several of our grantees and lots of planning for our future grant work. With big shifts in the external environment, we wanted to share the important work of Maine NEW Leadership, Immigrant Legal Assistance Program, and Four Directions Development Corporation, three of of our strong 2016 Grantees. More than ever, we are proud to be standing with them, in support of Maine women and girls.
We are inspired by the many women who are dedicating themselves to run for office. In these times we need more strong women leaders to stand up for what they know to be true and for what they know to be right. The world is depending on that.
Applications for the 2017 Maine NEW Leadership program are now open! The program is a six-day, non-partisan summer institute that educates and inspires twenty-eight Maine college women to flex their muscles as public leaders. If you are or know someone in college who wants to learn more about public service – at the local, state or national level, have her check out the Maine NEW Leadership Program at the University of Maine, Margaret Chase Smith Center, which is open to traditional and non-traditional undergraduate college students from all backgrounds and majors. The program is FREE for all participants.
To learn more, or simply to be inspired by the phenomenal women they work with, you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook. The Maine Women’s Fund is thrilled to be supporting their programming and we want to be sure the word gets out about one of the best kept leadership secrets in Maine, so share the link to this program with all the fabulous, eligible part- and full-time undergraduate students you know!
Here is a great BDN editorial on the impact of women in elected office that you may want to send along with the program information.
Like many of you, we at the Maine Women’s Fund are very worried about the safety of and support for the immigrant community here in Maine. In the last days before the election we visited the Immigrant Legal Assistance Project (ILAP), another of our grantees this year. ILAP receives no federal funding for the critical services they provide to asylum seekers here in Maine. While they represent hundreds of people each year, they cannot attend to all who request their help.
To learn more about ILAP’s powerful work, and hear stories of some of the people they work with, we encourage you to read this beautiful article about their work, titled “Safe at Home” which was published this fall in Old Port Magazine.
The article does a great job myth-busting. “Portland attorney Leslie Silverstein, who worked with Habonimana and his family, bristles at any suggestion that Maine’s immigrants are not determined to work. ‘Every single asylum case I’ve ever had, the day they get their work permit, they have one, two, or three jobs,’ she says. ‘It’s their happiest day when their work permit comes in.’”
Much of our conversation at ILAP kept coming back to the need to hear and understand one another’s stories. “Because Maine’s population is so small," executive director Susan Roche believes, "the state has a unique opportunity to be a role model for the rest of the country on immigration issues." I think when people actually interact, whether it’s as colleagues, neighbors, or their kids are in school together that people really start changing their minds," she says, "it’s when they get that ‘this is another human being that has the same hopes and dreams that I have’ that we’re going to have a better community of people who work together.’’
We encourage you to follow ILAP on Facebook to get to know some of the individuals and families with whom they work. Their stories will fuel your fire to help make this state a safer place for all people.
For those of you interested in celebrating the amazing work of ILAP with the immigrant community, tickets for their big fundraiser, Cele Soiree, which will be held on March 24, go on sale in January! It sells out every year so get your tickets early and come hungry, the food is legendary.
We know that like us, many of you have been following what is happening at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The actions there highlight the importance of Native sovereignty and self-determination and raise questions for us all around who decides what happens to our families and our communities, and how we can be actively engaged in transforming our future.
The Fund is honored to be supporting the work of Four Directions Development Corporation again this year. Four Directions helps members of the four Native American tribes in Maine - the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot - buy a home, start a small business, gain skills in financial literacy, and access financial counseling. Four Directions addresses systemic barriers to asset building posed by standard collateral restrictions and underwriting standards by using financial tools and processes informed by the experiences and cultural traditions of Native people. For example, Four Directions is the only substantial source of home loans for Native families looking to live on reservations because the land on which their homes stand is owned by the tribe for the entire community, rather than by individuals or lending institutions.
For more information on the unique role Four Directions plays in community asset building, check out their website and follow them on Facebook. To better understand how Four Directions Development Corporation is impacting tribal communities, you may be interested in reading an evaluation of their impact on Indian Island, titled "New Paths Home”. Additionally, Four Directions is experimenting with an online artisan sales platform to promote authentic Wabanaki work. Four Directions is soliciting feedback on the site and would love to hear any input that people may have!
We look forward to visiting with Four Directions this spring at the home of the Houlton Band of Maliseet to explore additional ways The Maine Women’s Fund can further their important work.
Posted 12.15.2016 under News and Resources