Leah Anderson '15 (Mathematics/Economics) collaborated with all of Community Financial Literacy’s staff as well as volunteers and members of their Board of Directors during her fellowship this summer. CFL is a Portland-based non-profit that provides free money management courses on different topics as well as one-on-one financial counseling for immigrants, refugees, asylees, and low-income individuals and families. A small organization with only two full-time and two part-time staff, CFL’s passion towards bettering the lives of Maine’s immigrants and refugees is overwhelming. Leah’s projects were focused on curriculum development and general office assistance, with plenty of direct contact with clients and the greater immigrant community.
"My time spent with CFL this summer has provided me valuable insight into the world of non-profits. Due to CFL’s small nature, I was able to observe and be a part of the most integral workings of the organization. Working closely with CFL’s Executive Director exposed me to both the extensive responsibilities and the most rewarding qualities of running a non-profit. Portland’s immigrant community has come to Maine with unique and useful skills. CFL provides hundreds of people the financial education necessary to succeed."
This summer Courtney Chuang '15 (Sociology/Gender & Women’s Studies) split her time between Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) and The Food Security Coalition of Mid Coast Maine (FSC). MCHPP provides food assistance to low-income households through its Food Pantry, Food Bank, and Soup Kitchen. FSC, which is housed at MCHPP, provides technical assistance to smaller food pantries in Mid Coast Maine. For MCHPP, Courtney developed a communication plan to celebrate the agency’s 10th anniversary on Union Street. For FSC, Courtney crafted operating manuals for two food pantries and wrote several resource guides for new pantries. Courtney also had the opportunity to design a new agency brochure, supervise a Summer Feeding Site, and interview past staff and board members.
“My summer at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program challenged me to think critically about how we allocate our limited federal, state, and local resources. I realized that our common need for food means that we all have a vested interest in establishing food security in the world’s wealthiest nation. My work took me into our Soup Kitchen, Food Bank, and Food Pantry and put me in contact with other pantries and hunger relief organizations in Mid Coast Maine."
In his fellowship at Maine Center for Economic Policy, Tom Gawarkiewicz '15 (Mathematics and Economics/Government & Legal Studies) worked on a variety of projects to get a better understanding of Maine’s economy and economics as a whole. His main project was working with the staff economist on the "State of Working Maine 2013", which provides a comprehensive overview of the employment and living situation facing working Mainers. Tom also worked on blog posts on topics ranging from summer food programs to expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for Maine.
"Working for the Maine Center for Economic Policy has been an eye-opening experience, providing insight to the challenges facing low-income Mainers and Americans. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work on blog posts, op-eds, and a cumulative project, "The State of Working Maine". This gave me real-world experience in data-collection, analysis, and presentation which I will use throughout my life. MECEP also showed me the profound impact economics and public policy can have on our most vulnerable neighbors and friend."
Casey Correa '14 (Visual Arts/English) worked with the ArtVan staff to create a plan that balanced spending time in the field, developing the organization’s resources and programming, and doing promotional work. She made art alongside a diverse group of kids from the Bath, Brunswick, and Lewiston/Auburn communities. Developmental and promotional work allowed Casey to gain a more complete understanding of the components that contribute to a successful non-profit organization. Her flexibility and organization were key in working with the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the organization and the communities that it serves.
"My responsibilities at ArtVan change constantly. One morning I could be a passenger on the van, heading to Lewiston to make art with the toddlers of Somali refugees. The next I am helping a middle schooler, who lives no more than five to ten minutes away from me, paint a piece of pottery. Some days I am in front of a computer experiencing on the development side of non-profit work. The fast pace, ever-changing nature of working with ArtVan has made my experience both challenging and extremely fulfilling"
Danielle Orchant '14 (Africana Studies/Education) spent her summer working at the Mitchell Institute. Each year, the Mitchell Institute provides college scholarships to students from every public high school in Maine. Danielle researched potential funding sources for a campaign to increase the amount of assistance awarded to those who receive a Mitchell scholarship. MI staff also study the underlying issues surrounding access to college. Toward these ends, Danielle compiled a literature review of the latest research on students’ college aspirations, and aggregated data on indicators of barriers to higher education. She also helped to compile an aspirations report to distribute to each public high school in Maine, based on survey responses completed by the schools’ principals, directors, and guidance counselors.
"Through my fellowship at the Mitchell Institute, I have developed the skills I need to access data that reflect educational inequities within Maine and throughout the United States. I am honored to work for an organization that helps to reduce opportunity gaps by awarding scholarships and conducting research. As someone who plans to pursue a career in teaching, I feel fortunate to have an understanding of policy decisions that deeply impact how classrooms operate. "
The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal assistance to Maine’s low-income immigrant communities. This summer, Olivia Reed '15 (Anthropology and Spanish) was able to become part of this mission by assisting in various forms of legal and administrative work. The majority of her time was spent working in ILAP’s pro se clinic where she prepared clients’ immigration forms, including legal permanent residency, green card replacement, work permit, and temporary protected status applications. She assisted attorneys in their full representation cases by conducting research and translating documents. Once a week, she covered the front desk, greeting clients, answering phones, and entering client information into ILAP’s database. She was also in charge of periodically updating ILAP’s website for its panel of pro bono asylum attorneys with country-condition information.
"Working with ILAP gave me first-hand look at what immigration looks like from the perspective of Maine's low-income immigrant communities. Over the course of the fellowship, I was able to meet countless inspiring individuals, ranging from passionate and determined lawyers to immigrants navigating a foreign and complex system. The experience also provided me with a better understanding of how non-profit organizations operate and a new avenue to explore my interest in immigrant/refugee issues. Working at ILAP was an incredibly educational and rewarding way to spend my summer."
As a research intern at the Mitchell Institute, Abby Roy '16 (Anthropology and Government & Legal Studies/Education) spent time working with both the scholarship aspect and the research aspect of the organization. Her main research projects involved looking at data put out by the Maine Department of Education with detailed reports on the college-going behavior of graduates from every public high school in Maine. Abby also spent time working with aggregated data for an Indicators report detailing the state of education in Maine. On the scholarship side, Abby compiled application and scholar trends in order to complete an annual Mitchell Scholar Profile.
"My time at the Mitchell Institute gave me an inside look at how a nonprofit can simultaneously serve individual students, schools, and the state of Maine itself. I gained valuable experience working with and understanding data through my research and then was able to see firsthand how the research I did affected students and educational professionals alike. It was a hugely rewarding experience, and I hope to be able to expand upon the work that I’ve done in the future. "
Lane Sturtevant '15 (Anthropology and Gender & Women’s Studies/Chinese) spent this summer at Preble Street in Portland, ME working with The Maine Hunger Initiative. This initiative is an anti-hunger advocacy project that works to support and connect emergency food providers throughout Maine, implement and conduct outreach for federal supplemental nutrition programs like free summer lunches for children, and advocate for more sustainable, shame-free solutions to the widespread problem of hunger in Maine. Lane became familiar with all of these elements of the project and contributed directly to them. Responsibilities included a variety of tasks, such as providing resource information to food pantry clients and coordinating summer lunch sites.
"Working at the Maine Hunger Initiative exposed me to how widespread and complex the issue of hunger is in Maine; it also showed me the incredible variety in and creativity of the methods and philosophies employed by nonprofits, individuals, and the government towards solving this issue. I was challenged to not only help implement strategies for reducing hunger but also, through that work, to study different approaches and to really reach my own understanding about this issue."
Brunswick Housing Authority provides affordable housing for low-income individuals and families in the Greater Brunswick Area. During his time at BHA, Colin Swords '15 (Mathematics/Economics) primarily focused on financial reporting, marketing, and company efficiency. He researched marketing strategies for housing developments and helped produce reports on the last fiscal year for an upcoming Board of Directors meeting. Highlights of the internship included sitting in on meetings with BHA’s clients and learning about the process by which low-income persons make the transition into homeownership in a responsible and affordable manner.
"At BHA, I was exposed to the administrative side of a nonprofit organization while still getting to interact with clients who seek affordable housing. At BHA, I wore many hats and spent each day tackling multiple projects. I most enjoyed learning about the importance of financial reporting through the lens of a housing organization that serves the common good. I feel very fortunate to have been placed at BHA for the summer, and I am confident that the experience will have prepared me for my future academic and professional endeavors."