Steal This: What's MaineSpark to You?
Last Thursday at the Maine Development Foundation’s annual meeting in Bangor, a coalition of organizations launched MaineSpark, a statewide initiative with the goal that 60% of Mainers will hold post-secondary degrees by 2025 (right now it’s 42%).
The Maine Philanthropy Center then welcomed Jamie Merisotis from the Lumina Foundation who spoke about his book America Needs Talent, showing that if the U.S. needs talent, Maine definitely needs it. We’re the oldest state in the nation, folks.
While the discussion was very aptly led by leaders from the business, higher education and philanthropic communities, it was clear from my table-mates that Maine nonprofits (many quite small in terms of budget) are equally as invested and engaged in this work: LearningWorks in Portland offers programs to help people realize their potential. Trekkers in Thomaston is an outdoor, youth mentoring program that prepares young people for success. Youth in Lewiston benefit from Tree Street Youth‘s programs to promote employment and cross-cultural leadership. New Ventures helps Mainers achieve economic stability through education.
Since then, I’ve met with more nonprofit leaders whose work clearly aligns with MaineSpark’s vision and are hard at work (often with hundreds of volunteer hours) improving educational and career opportunities for Mainers. If your organization is one of them, I urge you to reach out to MaineSpark and let them know about your work. Don’t forget to also make the connection for your current and potential donors. There’s power in fueling collective action toward an inspiring BHAG (60% by 2025!), and the more that nonprofits highlight and demonstrate work that is critical to the solution, the better.
Maine nonprofits are key partners in economic solutions. We innovate around workforce development and employ one in six workers! And, with millennials clearly drawn to mission-driven work and quality of life, Maine’s nonprofits can be strong selling points in attracting talent to the state.