The Harold Alfond Foundation announced Tuesday more than $500 million dollars of new grant investments in Maine institutions to help grow the state’s workforce and economy and support quality health care.
These latest investments build on what the foundation calls its “long-standing commitment to provide opportunity for the people of Maine to thrive from birth through career.”
“Our state faces unprecedented challenges,” Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, said. “In the face of these challenges, we still see a bright, prosperous future for the people of Maine. Today’s grants are to vital, high-performing Maine institutions who will help build that future.”
Receiving commitments ranging between $5 million and $240 million each, the Foundation describes the grant recipients as “innovators in education, skill-building, research and job creation.” Supporting the goals of Maine’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy, the foundation said selected institutions will help enhance the skills of the state workforce, promote innovation and entrepreneurial solutions, and strengthen the state’s infrastructure.
Governor Janet Mills praised the investment.
“I am grateful to the Harold Alfond Foundation for their partnership in making our long term goal of welcoming all innovators home to Maine a reality,” Mills said. “By bringing together higher education institutions, research institutions, community organizations and business leaders, this initiative will fuel new opportunities for Maine people and diversify and expand our economy at a critical moment in our state’s history.”
The grant recipients are the University of Maine System, The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, the University of New England, Thomas College, FocusMaine, Colby College, Waterville Creates!, and The Jackson Laboratory. Here’s how the foundation says the money will be used in each instance:
- The University of Maine System (UMS): to support transformative change at Maine’s public universities by launching a cutting edge, multi-university ‘College of Engineering, Computing, and Information Science;’ creating new programs supporting student retention and success; further developing the Maine Graduate and Professional Center, integrating law, business, and public and health policy; and enhancing athletic facilities at UMaine, home to the state’s only Division I athletic program. In aggregate, the UMS grant represents a strategic, long-term effort to strengthen the capacity of Maine’s public universities to meet the state’s most pressing higher education, workforce and economic needs.
- The Roux Institute at Northeastern University: to support scholarships, graduate education programming, and research capabilities for Maine residents in the fields of AI, computer and data science, digital engineering, and the advanced life sciences and medicine. The grant is designed to spur innovation, build talent, and drive economic growth in Portland and the State of Maine.
- The University of New England (UNE): to support the establishment of the Institute for Interprofessional Education and Practice and construction of a new facility for the relocation of the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine from Biddeford to Portland. UNE is Maine’s largest health care educator and home to Maine’s only medical school and Northern New England’s only dental college. It is a national leader in team-based health care education with expertise in digital health and treating rural and aging populations. This project will unify medical students with students studying to be nurses, dentists, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other health care professionals on its Portland Campus. It will also enable the acceleration of high-growth undergraduate programs on the University’s Biddeford campus. In so doing, the grant will help grow and strengthen Maine’s workforce.
- Thomas College: to support the College’s sustained excellence and growth through the launch of new academic programs in leading-edge fields, enhanced student retention programs, expanded affordability initiatives, and a deepening of academic and employer community partnerships through the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation.
- FocusMaine: to expand statewide programmatic efforts to accelerate high-quality job growth in three of Maine’s most globally competitive and high-growth fields—the life sciences, aquaculture, and agriculture—with a focus on skills and talent development.
- Colby College: to support the economic revitalization of Waterville through the coordinated redevelopment of multiple Main Street buildings and the construction of a state-of-the-art athletic and recreation center. The Foundation’s support of Colby furthers a long-standing funding relationship: Harold Alfond made his first ever major gift in 1955 to Colby, to build the Alfond Ice Arena on the College’s campus.
- Waterville Creates!: to support the organization’s partnerships with Colby College in the construction of the Paul J. Schupf Center for the Arts on Main Street, as well as the operations of Waterville Creates!, the leader of arts and cultural programming in the city. This effort, along with those of Colby in Waterville more generally, is designed to help attract students and families to a vibrant Central Maine.
- The Jackson Laboratory (JAX): to further the scope of the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative, increasing patient access to genomic therapies and clinical trials, and creating new digital tools to enable quick dissemination of learnings and genetic services in rural settings. The JAX grant, along with the Foundation’s ongoing support of the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network, a program of MaineHealth and MaineGeneral Health, in partnership with JAX, puts Maine on the cutting edge of leading cancer research and patient care.
“The Harold Alfond Foundation strategically selected these programs, each of which expands access to higher education and builds a pipeline of talent in key areas well-poised for economic growth in Maine, such as biotech, engineering, healthcare and IT,” Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said. “Each of these institutions play a critical role in strengthening Maine’s future. The value of these investments and their impact on the success of Maine’s economy and people cannot be overstated.”