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Success Stories


Holocaust and Human Rights Center

In May, 2018, HHRC hosted their first teacher seminar created in partnership with Teaching Tolerance, a program of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Part of the seminar included the introduction of a Structured Academic Controversy (SAC), which is a program of civil discourse that relies of source documents to encourage discussion and listening.

Their focus for the SAC was the story of Malaga Island with the prompt that “Malaga Island is an example of Government Sponsored Racism.” The teachers embraced the process, and early this week we heard from one participant, a middle school teacher from Mount Blue that he had incorporated the SAC process the very next day with his students as a means of talking about the school walkouts with the prompt “Students should not walk out of school to protest gun violence.” He said it was a huge success and the students loved the opportunity to have a challenging discussion without ill feelings.

Genesis Community Loan Fund

Serving 350 people a week from its food pantry at a church and a warehouse at a separate location, the Augusta Food Bank needed a new permanent home. When a donor provided them with a suitable parcel of land, they turned to the Genesis Fund for help.

Technical assistance from the Genesis Fund helped them plan a capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to build a new, efficient facility so they can better serve the people facing hunger in their community. A successful campaign and financing from the Genesis Fund resulted the Augusta Food Bank serving people at their new home by the end of 2017.

Maine Equal Justice Partners

Kathy has been a hair dresser for 32 years. She was diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which make breathing difficult. After losing MaineCare, Kathy had her oxygen equipment taken away and is now facing difficulties managing her medical challenges. Kathy became a spokesperson for the “Yes on 2” campaign to expand Medicaid (called MaineCare in Maine) appearing in TV ads, public speaking events, and as part of the Health Care Leadership Team of impacted people who spoke up for expansion.

Here is a link to a video about Kathy

Resources for Organizing & Social Change

In 2018, the 23rd annual Changing Maine gathering drew a crowd of roughly 100 statewide activists and organizers to Lewiston to attend workshops focused on learning how to center anti-racism in social justice movements. This event was sponsored by ROSC who followed the organizing lead of the folks from the For Us, By Us Fund (FUBU), which is a People of Color (PoC) led initiative missioned to support and advance PoC organizing and creative endeavors in Maine. ROSC also raised over $5,000 for FUBU through fundraising efforts involved with that event.

Maine Center for Economic Policy

MECEP provided an analyses of tax revenue that helped the state’s lawmakers craft an alternative budget proposal. MECEP identified revenue that made it possible to increase K-12 education funding; improve TANF benefits for the first time in 16 years; increase heating assistance for eligible families; add Head Start slots for low-income children; and enhance transportation assistance for eligible low-income families to get to work. This example showcases MECEP’s pivotal role in creating economic opportunities through the state budget for all Maine families to get ahead.

Last year, MECEP’s analysis was used to craft alternative budget solutions in response to the governor’s budget that, among other devastating cuts, reduced eligibility for health care; slashed the TANF lifetime time limit, and cut Head Start. The governor’s budget also targeted people of color with, among other items, a proposal that sought to ban lawfully present immigrants from public assistance programs.

Maine Veterans for Peace

At a major tabling event at the Common Ground Country Fair, we converse with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at this three day event. We have heartwarming conversations with fair goers of all ages.

We bring in the youngest with our button maker and let them design and make a button of their choice. We talk with everyone but particularly with veterans. We show that we are the choice for advocating an end to war. This is always the highlight of our year, having these wonderful conversations.

Maine Federation of Humane Societies

In 2017, MFHS changed its big Annual Conference into smaller, hands-on workshops.Staff training in catch-pole handling, accurate blood testing, and understanding and addressing compassion fatigue were a few of the hot topics.

Maine Farmland Trust

In November 2017, MFT sold 60 acres of Damariscotta farmland to Morning Dew Farm of Newcastle. MFT simultaneously purchased a conservation easement on the property ensuring the land would stay available for agricultural use in perpetuity. Farmers Brady Hatch and Brendan McQuillen had been leasing the property from MFT for several years, cultivating a wide variety of vegetables and herbs to supply their customers at the local farmer’s market and at their mid-coast wholesale accounts.MFT purchased this property in 2011 to ensure that the property would remain in agriculture; prior to MFT’s purchase these roadside fields were under consideration as a development site for a Super Walmart.

Sierra Club Foundation, ME Chapter Fund

More than 140 Sierra Club members and climate activists gathered at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston campus on September 16, 2017 to share knowledge and gain the skills needed to take community-based action toward a clean energy future for Maine. “Inspiring” and “empowering” were words that could be heard as people departed at the end of the day.

The keynote speaker was author and activist George Lakey who delivered a positive message on how real change is possible, even in these troubled times. Lakey emphasized that the actions of the Trump administration have served as a wake-up call, and he noted that troubled, polarized times are often the catalysts for major change. Following Lakey’s motivating words, conference participants chose from a variety of workshop options for the remainder of the day. Workshop topics included: moving toward clean energy future, grassroots organizing, transportation for livable communities, energy efficiency, water stewardship, community- based energy, creating an effective climate change message, and sustainable agriculture. Thanks to all the workshop presenters for sharing their knowledge. The event was supported by numerous conference co-sponsors including ReVision Energy, Goggin Energy, Lee International, Insource Renewables, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, and Robert and Elizabeth Stoddard. To find out more about the conference, our Climate Action Team (CAT) Program, and how to get involved or start a CAT in your community, go to sierraclub.org/maine or email maine.chapter@sierraclub.org.

Maine Women’s Fund

In 2018 MWF reinvigorated their Leadership Luncheon, which has a one-year hiatus in 2017. Our speakers better reflected the true diversity of our community, and included: a Native American, African American women and youth, a younger woman, and white women. We honored a fierce advocate for meaningful inclusion, a young woman who rides her bike across the country to raise money, and a rising star local chef.

Maine Animal Coalition

Maine Animal Coalition annually hosts a Veg Fest, which explores vegan living. 2019 This year will their 15th fest. Key to this fest are the educational lectures. They will also sell vegan food and have vendors and exhibitors at the fest. Annually about 700 people participate.

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

On April 22, 2018, we held the annual Great Maine Bike Swap in Portland. This event connected bike sellers with potential buyers from all around the state. By the end of the Swap, which lasted only a few hours, we sold more than 600 bikes and donated another 65 to a local bike shop, meaning hundreds of people got new bikes and many kids received their very first bike, ushering in the newest generation of riders in Maine.

Maine Hospice Council

“Treating Pain Amidst the Opioid Crisis”, annual pain symposium sheds light on personal struggles” , 21st Maine Pain Symposium at Thomas College, Waterville, Me. , WABI 5 News Link: http://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Treating-Pain-Amidst-the-Opioid-Crisis-annual-pain-symposium-sheds-light-on-personal-struggles–481791781.html

Maine Audubon

Education is at the heart of Maine Audubon’s mission. We work every day with children and adults to foster environmental literacy so that they can become more informed and effective stewards of Maine’s wildlife and habitat. In addition to our standard adult programs — including bird walks, trips, speakers, and other classes designed to help adults further their environmental education — we regularly offer classes and programs for children and families, host field trips, visit classrooms, and provide programs and resources for educators.

Maine Alliance for Arts Education

Building Community Through the Arts (BCTA), which builds trust among students in Maine high school classrooms through creative theater and dance, recently got the attention of the Maine Department of Education and Americans for the Arts in Washington DC. The Maine DOE invited MAAE to aggregate its pre and post data so that it can promote BCTA as an “evidence-based program.” BCTA was developed in response to the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, and in the reminder of that tragedy following the Parkland Florida and Texas school shootings, Americans for the Arts published the blog that MAAE sent in about the program.

Friends of Casco Bay

In early 2017, the Portland Water District and Friends of Casco Bay developed an agreement aimed at reducing nitrogen pollution from sewage effluent from Portland’s East End Wastewater Treatment Plant by 20-40% within five years. Thanks to good engineering and an upgrade to the plant’s aeration system, the plant is on track to reduce nitrogen by as much as 500 to 1,000 pounds each day! The collaboration helped the Maine Department of Environmental Protection develop a new five-year Clean Water Act permit for the Portland’s East End Wastewater Treatment Facility. This was the first such permit in Casco Bay to address nitrogen levels and is now a model for other communities.

Why reducing nitrogen is important for the health of Casco Bay: Excess nitrogen is one of the biggest threats to the health of our coastal waters. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient, but too much can trigger excessive algae growth, which can turn the Bay green. Nitrogen can also prolong red tides and other harmful algal blooms. When these blooms die, decomposing bacteria remove the oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide, making the water more acidic. Nitrogen, then, can also indirectly magnify the effect climate change is having on our waters. You may remember that over the past two summers, we saw large mats of green algae in coves around the Bay. Such blooms can be an indication of too much nitrogen.


Members of GLSEN’s Students for Safe Schools Leadership Team (SSSLT) spoke at four state-wide conferences and in front of several school staffs, attended Lobby Day in Augusta, organized public rallies, and worked on and presented LGBTQ-inclusive curricula for their schools’ health classes. They invited out legislators to speak at their meetings and learned about pending state legislation. They developed presentations about how to be strong and vocal allies for LGBTQ youth and supported LGBTQ clubs in their schools. They published articles on kindness in state-wide and national forums. These young people became confident leaders who are changing the world.

Equality Maine

“Today I had the opportunity to go on stage at the Maine Democratic State Convention alongside three other amazing youth activists and talk about what it’s like to be a youth activist – our passions and the struggles youth in the state have.

Even two years ago when I first signed up for EqualityMaine’s New Leader Program, I never dreamt I’d become so politically active and have such amazing opportunities! I’ve really found my passion in political activism and I’m so excited for what the future holds for me in this pursuit!”
-Victor, Senior at Cony High School in Augusta

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Since the 1950s plastics have been mass produced including single-use shopping bags. Plastic bags often end up in our ocean water where they break into a thousand little pieces. They are eaten by fish, mollusks, turtles, and birds, damaging their digestive system.

Maine’s coastal ecosystem must be protected.

Recently, NRCM worked on local ordinances that banned or placed fees on plastic bags. Now there are 14 Maine towns (17% of the population) that banned or placed fees on the use of plastic bags. Additionally, 11 Maine towns (14% of the population) banned foam.

We will soon add seven more towns!

Maine Council of Churches

The Maine Council of Churches “Community Conversations” program brought eleven small groups of Lewiston-Auburn neighbors together for dinner and conversation. Half of the members in each group were New Mainers (immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers) and half were long-time Mainers. Steve Wessler (civil rights expert and founder of the Center for Prevention of Hate) facilitated the groups, which were designed to reduce bias incidents and hate crimes. The project is now being replicated in other Maine cities and was featured in a Maine Public Radio broadcast.
Maine Women’s Policy Center

On October 11, 2017, hosted our best ever Maine Women’s Economic Summit: Forging our Future Together where over 250 people gathered to focus on economic security. Our two keynote speakers were Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter network and Loretta Ross, expert and leader on women’s issues, racism, and human rights.

Environmental Health Strategy Center

For the health and safety of families and first responders, we worked closely with the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine union to win a battle with the chemical industry: Maine legislators passed a first-in-the nation law to end the unnecessary use of so-called “flame retardant” toxic chemicals in upholstered furniture. Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed the legislation, bowing to the chemical industry. But the bipartisan support we built over many months resulted in overwhelming overrides of the governor’s veto in both the Maine House and Senate. The new Maine law prohibits the sale after January 1, 2019 of residential upholstered furniture that contains any flame retardant toxic chemical.
Holocaust and Human Rights Center The HHRC has recently been partnering with UMA to provide educational programs to school groups coming to the university in Augusta. This not only gives younger students an introduction to a college environment, but allows the HHRC to promote universal respect for human rights in combination with UMA through its own programs & education.

Maine Labor Group on Health

Maine lawmakers, union stewards and safety professionals gathered to remember those who died on the job. The event was headlined by Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Co-Director of the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health.

Maine Labor Group on Health Our Worker’s Memorial Day Breakfast was attended by approximately 45 people. The event was highlighted by our speaker, Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Co-Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

Mano en Mano (Hand in Hand)

In October and November, we hosted 400 people at our welcome and resource center for seasonal and migrant workers. We distributed 350 boxes of groceries, served 140 hot meals, and nearly all 400 attendees received winter clothes. This event was made possible with the support of 55 volunteers.

Southern Maine Workers’ Center

Recently we received a call to our Worker Support Hotline from a server in a restaurant who believed that the way she was being required to share tips was illegal. The volunteer she spoke to was able to direct her to legal information about tip pooling and also asked, “Are your coworkers also experiencing this?” The caller agreed to talk to her coworkers and then set up a meeting with SMWC. The Hotline volunteer helped them write a letter to ask the restaurant owner to change the policy. The whole group of workers presented their boss with the letter and she agreed to change the tipping policy to be inline with the law!

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS:

The protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person in this country, not just those who were born here.LD 366:”An Act to Ensure Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities”

Like other so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bills around the country, this one capitalized on anti-immigrant fervor and would have required towns and cities to force their local law enforcement to act as immigration agents.

Position: Opposed

Status: VICTORY! This bill was rejected by the full legislature and will not become law

Consumers for Affordable Health Care

In 2017, the Trump administration limited Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act Marketplace to six weeks. To publicize this change, CAP Manager Kate Ende appeared at three press conferences with Senator Angus King in October and November, which were covered by television news. In addition, CAHC engaged navigators and assisters statewide to educate Mainers about the reduced timeframe for enrollment. 75,809 Mainers signed up for Marketplace insurance for 2018, down about 4.5% from 2017. This figure is consistent with data from other states. Without the outreach and education, CAHC believes far fewer Mainers would have signed up.


WERU was awarded first prize for “Local Production” from the Maine Association of Broadcasters for the radio program “Maine Currents: Immigrant Legislation Testimony.” The program documented testimony before the Maine Legislature regarding proposed laws that would be hostile towards immigrants. The award-winning program was produced by Amy Browne, News and Public Affairs Manager of WERU.

Disability Rights Maine

DRM’s legal intervention led to a first-of-its-kind victory in Maine for our client Joshua Strong, who had been under guardianship and wanted to increase his autonomy and independence. DRM, Joshua, and his service provider partnered in Supported-Decision Making, a groundbreaking alternative to traditional guardianship that emphasizes decision making as a skill. After the probate court agreed to end Joshua’s guardianship, DRM stated that “Josh’s hard work and victory creates a new narrative about civil rights and liberties in Maine.” Joshua’s new freedom, a goal of his for years, serves as a ground-breaking model for other people with disabilities.

Viles Arboretum

Our Beyond Borders farmers market, launched in 2017 was a partnership with Cultivating Community of Portland Maine. We had no idea where this effort might go but we wanted to try out the idea of establishing a market primarily for the immigrant community. It is now in its second year and has turned into a wonderful success. In addition to the market, the Somali women began preparing local foods as lunch offerings through the summer of 2017 and 2018.  We saw over one hundred people attending the event on a regular basis to purchase hot lunches. As Aslee, the lead person from the Somali community said, “This is a dream come true to be using our own raised vegetables and adding value through the lunch menu!”

Maine Public

On May 22, 2018 PBS kicked off “THE GREAT AMERICAN READ”, a program designed to get people across the country to talk about their most beloved books. A diverse list of 100 books has been chosen and we are asking people to vote for their favorite book, which will be revealed this fall.

MAINE PUBLIC, as part of this initiative, and has created a Maine poll for their favorite book, will have a MAINE PUBLIC Bookmobile that will distribute books at popular spots throughout the state, has adopted over 14 Book Clubs and provided them books for their groups, and most importantly, partnering with Darling’s Auto, to collect books to share the joy of reading with children throughout Maine. Donated books can be dropped off at Darling’s and all MAINE PUBLIC LOCATIONS.