Common Good Grant

About the Program
Grant Application Information
Student Committee Information
Grant Recipients
Program Contacts

About the Common Good Grant Program

Since 2001, an anonymous alumni donor has contributed $10,000 annually for Bowdoin students to allocate to local agencies looking for funding to start new initiatives and maintain existing programs. Acting much like a community foundation, students in the program solicit donations to augment the grant base and evaluate grant proposals to determine which local non-profits will receive the Common Good Grants each spring.  The purpose of the program is to provide students the opportunity to learn about grants, foundations, and philanthropy while becoming familiar with local non-profit organizations.

Participating in the Common Good Grant program is a rewarding and educational experience for the members of both the grant and development committees, as they are able to take part in the philanthropic process from beginning to end. Not only designed to strengthen the bonds between Bowdoin College and the greater Brunswick community by honoring local non-profits, the program also empowers students by helping them to make a difference in their community through an educational experience. Since its inception, the Common Good Grant program has distributed over $269,000 in grants to 139 non-profit organizations in the community.

Grant Application Information

The Common Good Grant program is pleased to request proposals from community organizations for this year's grant. Local non-profits that serve the greater Brunswick area (Brunswick, Harpswell, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Freeport, Topsham, Bath, Bowdoinham, Woolwich, Lisbon, Lisbon Falls, Bowdoin and Yarmouth) are invited to apply. In addition to organizations from these locations, we are also inviting organizations that hosted McKeen Center orientation trip groups from across the state to apply this year. Organizations who received funding in the previous year or in three of the previous eight years are ineligible to apply in the current year.

Unlinke previous years, we will only require organizations to initially submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to apply for a grant. A one-page LOI will be due by Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at noon EST. Organizations will be notified of their status by December 15, 2017 and organizations selected to formally apply for the grant will need to submit their application by January 27, 2018.

Letter of Intent Information
Letter of Intent Request
Your organization’s letter of intent (LOI) should be no more than one page, single spaced and written, if possible, on the letterhead of your organization. In the letter, addressed to the Common Good Grant Committee, we ask you to provide the following information:

  • A brief history of your nonprofit and its programs
  • How much funding you are applying for and what your objectives are with the funding (you can indicate interest in exclusively the $5,000 or $2,500 grant, or express interest in both);
  • What outcomes you expect from the grant;
  • Additional support, financial or programmatic, your organization has for the grant;
  • Contact information for your organization’s grant steward.

Your LOI must be submitted via email to Tom Ancona ( by Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at noon EST. 

Common Good Grant Student Committee

CGG CommitteeThe Common Good Grant program is run each year by a committee of 20 dedicated students. Students are selected for the committee in the fall semester and participate in weekly educational sessions to learn more about non-profits, the non-profit sector in Maine, grants, and development work. The students are separated into two committees:

  • Grant Committee: Twelve students are selected to be on this committee. In the spring, the committee reviews submitted proposals, conducts site-visits to grant finalist organizations, and selects the grant recipients, who are presented with checks at the Common Good Grant Awards Ceremony in April.
  • Development Committee: Started in 2004, this eight-member committee works to raise funds to add to the $10,000 yearly grant base.  Serving on the Development Committee provides a unique opportunity to participate in a strategic fundraising initiative to benefit local non-profits. Not only do participants work to raise additional funds for the existing grant base, they also increase their understanding of non-profit organizations and gain key fundraising skills in the process. The group develops a case to solicit donations. In pairs, students meet with potential donors in the winter and spring. All funds raised are then added to the Common Good Grant fund, expanding the number of community projects supported.

Common Good Grant Recipients

2017 Award CeremonyOur 2017 Common Good Grant Recipients are:

  • Bath Housing (Bath, ME) to build fencing to enclose its larger garden and create wheelchair-friendly paths around their ADA accessible garden beds.
  • Gardeners Growing Healthy Communities (South Paris, ME) to add irrigation, landscape fabric, and a blueberry crop to its gardens that will improve the quantity and reliability of the overall harvest and increase volunteer gardeners’ efficiency.
  • The Gathering Place (Brunswick, ME) to provide materially poor and homeless individuals with daytime shelter by expanding its hours to Saturdays.
  • Merrymeeting Food Council (Brunswick, ME) to purchase a cold storage trailer to allow the organization to expand the provision of local produce to food insecure households, by storing food between gleaning and delivery dates.
  • Needle Exchange Program (Portland, ME) to offer naloxone, an overdose prevention drug, and related trainings for community groups and members in the Brunswick area.
  • New Ventures Maine (Brunswick, ME) to help support its program, “Enhancing Career & College Success,” which helps to provide individuals with the means to move from poverty to economic stability by focusing on educational and career goals.
  • Opportunity Alliance (Portland, ME) to help cover the costs of a part-time coordinator who will organize meetings for mediation services for families in the greater Brunswick area.
  • Tedford Housing (Brunswick, ME) to cover the costs of miscellaneous needs for clients, including transportation to and from job interviews, work boots for employment, or fees to submit a housing application, in order to help clients attain greater self-sufficiency. 

Read more about the past grant recipients here!

Program Contacts

Questions about the Common Good Grant application or student committee can be directed to Tom Ancona, Associate Director of the McKeen Center for the Common Good, or Common Good Grant student co-leaders Audrey Leland '18 and Gaby Papper '18.