Winter 2021 Newsletter: Reflecting on a year of the COVID crisis, and looking ahead

Dear Friend,

One year ago, COVID-19 was just starting to spread in other countries, triggering a dawning realization that a crisis was headed our way. Little did we know how quickly that crisis would arrive, the unthinkable toll it would take, and the many, many ways it would alter our everyday lives.

Maybe, just maybe, we are now able to see the beginning of the pandemic’s retreat and, with that, feel some hope that in the coming months life may actually return to some version of normal. Still, here at the John T. Gorman Foundation, we know that even after COVID-19 subsides, there will be long-lasting impacts for Maine’s most vulnerable people. (To elaborate on this, I encourage you to read this recently published op-ed by Senior Program Associate Jen Beck about how we can help mitigate these impacts for Maine families.)

In the face of current and anticipated challenges, we’re heartened and extremely impressed with how partners across Maine continue to rise to this moment and make progress despite it. This Winter Newsletter has several examples. In Millinocket, grantee Mobilize Katahdin formed in early 2020 to offer transportation services, but has now pivoted to meet many other immediate community needs during the pandemic. Given the need for quality childcare in Maine – which has been exacerbated because of COVID – Coastal Enterprises Inc. is bringing to Lewiston a promising model for helping entrepreneurs start childcare businesses. And even in the pandemic, Mitchell Institute Promise Scholars continue to succeed with the help of this innovative program to help college students who have experienced incredible adversity.

Nearly a year into the COVID crisis, efforts like these and others across the state reinforce for us the resiliency and creativity of Mainers. And while much work lies ahead, we are, as always, committed to doing our part alongside all of you.

In that vein, to help nonprofits meet what everyone expects will be a continued high level of need this year, the Foundation has allocated $1 million to its 2021 Direct Services Grant Program. There is just under a week left to apply – please go here for more information and feel free to reach out with any questions.

Tony Cipollone
John T. Gorman Foundation President & CEO

More News of Note

Resource Library: The Foundation continues to regularly update its online Resource Library with the latest reports, briefs, and data available about our four priority populations – young children, older youth, families, and seniors. This searchable database now contains over 630 resources from state and national sources, with recent entries covering the pandemic, racial equity, education, food security, and much more. Click here to access.

Racial Disparities in Median Income: The Foundation’s latest Maine Data Glimpse – a monthly feature on our website compiled by the Carsey School of Public Policy – explores stark racial disparities in Maine’s median personal income levels. In 2019, Mainers identifying as white alone had a median personal income of $26,836, whereas Black or African American Mainers had median personal incomes at less than half that, at $11,808. Go here for more data and analysis on this important issue.

Making the Case for Two-Gen Strategies: The Portland Press Herald recently published an op-ed by Foundation Senior Program Associate Jen Beck about using a two-generation approach to help Maine families through these extraordinary times. “In this new year there is an opportunity for our state to regroup, recover and rebuild – not just from the pandemic, but also from the systemic barriers and siloed responses that have long hampered Maine families,” she wrote. Read on.

Legal Aid Clinic Turns 50: Congratulations to the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic on its 50th anniversary! This incredible initiative has now influenced generations of University of Maine School of Law students while offering legal representation to thousands of low-income Mainers. The John T. Gorman Foundation has been privileged to see its impact up close in the area of juvenile justice. Find out more.

Read the full newsletter here