Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

2011 Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowships

Story posted January 19, 2011

The Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowships provide students the opportunity to work and serve in the local community through a placement in an organization addressing community issues. Meant to capitalize on students' interests, the fellowship allows students to explore work in the public sector while developing an understanding of issues at the local level — what they are, and how to solve problems related to these issues by working with a broad spectrum of community leaders. In addition to their placements, students convene regularly with other fellows and students from the Psi Upsilon Environmental Fellowship for reflection and problem solving. All fellowships are 40 hrs/week, include a stipend of $4000 and run from June 6 to August 12.  Applications are due Monday, February 14, 2011.

Community Action Placements for 2011

Brunswick Housing Authority (Affordable Housing) – Brunswick, ME
The Brunswick Housing Authority provides safe, quality, and affordable housing for eligible persons in need of assistance and promotes opportunities for growth and development of residents. BHA serves as a landlord and a developer creating new opportunities for affordable housing in the region by working with all levels of government, clients, local business, and the public at large. The summer fellow will have the opportunity to learn about housing development, marketing, and energy efficiency green building standards. The role of the fellow will be to support BHA’s development activities related to several current projects by assisting with written material; creating and disseminating marketing material; attending meetings with partners and the Board of Directors; and assisting with budget analysis. The work requires knowledge of computer software programs such as Excel and Adobe, both written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to multi-task.

Community Financial Literacy (Immigrant and Refugee Communities) – Portland, ME
Community Financial Literacy enhances the lives of refugee and immigrant communities in Maine by teaching them financial literacy skills for a better future. CFL offers classes, workshops, and one-on-one counseling on basic financial skills. This placement will give a student the opportunity to assist CFL with a needs assessment and strategic plan to expand their support of the refugee and immigrant communities through microenterprise, microfinance, and matching savings programs to support housing, education, or small business endeavors. The fellow will interview immigrants and refugees, attend CFL courses to connect with students, research successful models of similar programs, and develop a report outlining CFL’s needs and next steps to develop these programs. As a new and very small organization, this fellowship will help build the capacity of the organization and will be critical in helping them pursue their goals.

Five Rivers Arts Alliance (Community and the Arts) – Brunswick, ME
Five Rivers Arts Alliance is a local arts agency whose mission is to strengthen communities through the arts. Five Rivers encourages individuals to engage in lifelong learning and participation in the arts; celebrates, preserves, and promotes a sense of place; and seeks to strengthen the economic health of the creative sector. This placement provides an opportunity for a student to gain experience in a small cultural nonprofit, working specifically in membership development, publicity and marketing for the organization with a focus on outreach, writing, and website work. In particular, the fellow will assist with the ongoing Economic Impact Survey of local artists, craftspeople, cultural organizations, businesses, and with the Realize Maine and Advance Maine programs to develop advocacy and outreach efforts for our region to attract young artists to the area.

Independence Association (Individuals with Disabilities) – Brunswick, ME
Independence Association assists adults and children with disabilities in obtaining a full and inclusive life in their chosen community. In addition to supporting individuals with mental retardation, the agency increasingly assists individuals with other disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, and mental illness. The agency also acts as an advocate for individuals so that they can achieve recognition and acceptance in their communities and in their life’s activities. The summer fellow will assist with the assessment, development, standardization, and implementation of therapeutic interventions across all settings. This will include working with a team to develop meaningful objectives that facilitate success in education, vocation, activities of daily living, and advancement in language skills. The fellow will also help to develop empirical goals which allow therapists to determine the success of therapy as well as determine future intervention strategies.

Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) (Economic Policy) – Augusta, ME
The Maine Center for Economic Policy advances public policies that help Maine people prosper in a strong, fair and sustainable economy through high-quality research, analysis, citizen education, and coalition building. MECEP focuses on issues of livable wages; family support; affordable healthcare; fair budget and taxes; and sustainable development. This placement will offer a student the opportunity to learn about the role public policy plays in affecting issues related to Maine's economic development through programs such as the Maine Hunger Initiative, Stand Up for Working Families, Sustainable Economic Development in Rural Maine, and Build our Base. The summer fellow will work with MECEP policy analysts to conduct research and analysis on one or two policy issues that culminate in the publication of a report produced by MECEP. The fellow will also participate in other aspects of the organization’s work which include writing op-eds; hosting State of the State, a weekly television show on Maine news and events; attending meetings with coalition partners and policymakers; participating in staff and board meetings; and assisting with communications activities. Students with experiences from an Economics background are encouraged to apply.

Mitchell Institute (Educational Policy) – Portland, ME
The Mitchell Institute works to increase the likelihood that young people from every community in Maine will aspire to, pursue and achieve a college education. The Mitchell Institute provides a college scholarship each year to one graduating senior from every high school in Maine and engages these scholars in leadership, professional development, community service, and mentoring activities. Additionally, the Mitchell Institute Research Program seeks to learn about the obstacles that stand between Maine students and higher education. This placement provides opportunities for a summer fellow to engage in policy-oriented research and data analysis. This summer's projects will include updating the Maine Compact for Higher Education’s annual Indicators o Higher Education Attainment report, of which the summer fellow will be a co-author, and assisting with a study on removing barriers to college in Maine. This work will include compiling and performing calculations with state and national data; creating tables, charts, and maps with data; and attending and presenting at advisory group meetings of Maine educators and policymakers.

Preble Street (Food Insecurity) - Portland, ME
Preble Street is a 24/365 service hub for hungry and homeless people struggling with issues including abuse, chronic illness, language barriers, and unemployment. Each day hundreds of youth and adults depend on Preble Street for free meals, clothing, and shelter as well as health and social services to help them escape poverty. The summer fellow will work with the team responsible for northern New England’s largest emergency food program, including nine meals a day at three soup kitchens and a food pantry that provides approximately 8,800 nutritious meals a week to homeless and low-income residents of Greater Portland. The fellow will help to ensure a safe, respectful environment; prepare and serve meals; maintain kitchens and food storage space; assist with record keeping; and participate in agency activities such as advocacy, trainings, and community meetings. Additionally, the summer fellow will have the opportunity to assist with research related to food pantry usage and client needs.

Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) (Legal Aid) – Portland, ME
Volunteer Lawyers Project coordinates the efforts of Maine attorneys, community members, and student volunteers to help low-income people navigate the civil justice system. Providing free information, brief assistance and pro bono legal representation in civil legal matters to qualifying clients, volunteers that work with VLP give low-income Mainers the tools and the know-how to be equal participants in our legal system. This placement offers a variety of experiences in the office that runs the volunteer program including client interviewing and participation on the Courthouse Assistance Project (CHAP), as well as observation of the Family Law Helpline, Domestic Violence Pro Bono Panel and other court observations, attendance of case review meetings, training through an ongoing lecture series with area attorneys, and assisting with current research projects. For students considering law as a career path, this placement would be a beneficial experience, but it would also be useful for any student seeking experience in dealing with issues related to poverty, inequity and legal needs.

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