Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowships

CMM site visit 2013

The Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowships provide students the opportunity to work and serve in the local community by way of a placement in a specific organization to address community issues while strengthening campus-community partnerships. 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.  

This 10-week fellowship includes a $4000 stipend, and fellows are eligible for on-campus housing. In addition to their placements, students convene regularly with other fellows for reflection and problem solving. Most fellowship placements go from early June to mid-August.
McKeen Community Fellows work with organizations addressing issues of social/civic concern.  Placements are designed for students interested in public service with experience in community service and/or service learning courses. For more information, contact Tom Ancona.
Environmental Studies Fellows work with organizations addressing issues related to the environment at the local level and are primarily for students majoring in Environmental Studies. For more information, contact Eileen Johnson.

More About Our Program:

As part of the program, fellows are required to:

  • Participate in an orientation to the program during the first week of June;
  • Convene regularly with other fellows and staff for discussion, reflection and problem solving and to identify common themes among participating agencies that might be addressed in the future;
  • Present a summary of the experience to participating agencies, students, faculty and staff at the end of the summer;
  • Participate in an evaluation of the program at the end of the summer to help craft future program components.

Interest in public issues, academic record, and financial need are all important criteria for fellowship applicants, although students not receiving aid are eligible if a paying summer job is a necessity. Preference is given to rising juniors and seniors.

Read about past McKeen Community Fellows and their placements:
2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

2016 McKeen Community Placements

ArtVan (Public Art/Diverse Communities) -- Brunswick, ME

ArtVan is a mobile arts therapy organization that works in Bath, Brunswick, Lewiston and Auburn, Maine. Working as a team member and alongside arts educators, art therapists, the financial administrator, and the director of development, the fellow will have the opportunity to stretch their creative, business and entrepreneurial capacities. The majority of their time will be used to directly serve under-resourced, diverse communities in a variety of Maine towns; through working directly in ArtVan programs, the fellow will have the opportunity to co-facilitate sessions, interact with youth, and learn more about non-clinical art therapy. The fellow will also collaborate with the Operations and Development Director to design a project that supports the growth of the organization. The fellow must have interest and some experience in the following activities: working in under-resourced communities, working with youth, working in a multi-cultural environment, using the creative process to build healthy community, fundraising, research, and board development. The student fellow should enjoy working both collaboratively and individually, be self-motivated, and tolerate physical work and broad weather conditions (summer heat).

Projects include:

      • Assist in the design of, and lead neighborhood arts projects with diverse communities;
      • Help with ArtVan’s organizational development with a focus, depending upon the fellow’s interests/skills, on program evaluation, fundraising, marketing, or a combination therein to build the internal capacity of this small grassroots organization.

Brunswick Housing Authority (Affordable Housing/Housing Policy) -- Brunswick, ME

The Brunswick Housing Authority (BHA) is a quasi-municipal entity whose primary mission is the provision of decent, safe and affordable housing serving over 700 households in and around Brunswick. As a developer of affordable housing, BHA engages with architects, construction contractors, local municipal employees, and financing organizations to complete its mission of creating affordable rental housing units. The BHA summer fellow will work alongside BHA senior staff in many capacities as the building process unfolds for a new 8 unit family rental property to be constructed in Topsham. In addition, the summer fellow will assist in the conversion of public housing rental units to a new Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) funding model. The summer fellow might also work on an information technology database update and the financial analysis of existing rental properties (both as skills warrant and time allows). This work will require the fellow to be organized, willing to work with a broad spectrum of educational and income backgrounds, and have a functional knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel.

Projects include:

      • Assisting BHA senior staff with tasks and analysis associated with this complex transition of housing or 50 families receiving public housing assistance;
      • Conduct research on and assemble financial analysis of existing rental properties available for low income residents.

Center for Grieving Children (Diverse Communities/Counseling) -- Portland, ME

The Center for Grieving Children serves more than 4,000 grieving youth and families following a mission to provide loving support that encourages the safe expression of grief and fosters each individual’s resilience and emotional well-being. The summer fellow will be responsible for working with the program director on program evaluation and outcome measurement, will complete reports on service utilization and prepare a written report of the findings. The fellow will research and make recommendations for program evaluation tools for children younger than 9 and for diverse populations. The fellow will also have the opportunity to complete volunteer training and facilitate a peer support group, if desired, and participate in other aspects of the organization’s work.

Projects include:

      • Preparing a written report and brief oral presentation of the findings from the program evaluation project including service utilization, trends, and relationships;
      • Researching and making recommendations for evaluation tools to be used with young children and with diverse populations in a peer support setting.

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (Immigrant & Refugee Communities/Law) – Portland, ME

The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project is Maine’s only statewide legal aid agency dedicated to providing legal assistance on immigration issues to low-income immigrants, including gaining asylum from persecution, unification with family members, and citizenship and work authorization. Approximately one-half of the fellow’s time will be spent in direct client contact, working in ILAP’s Immigration Clinic and assisting ILAP’s staff with “intake” of new clients (interviewing and assembling client documents and needed data entry follow-up). The fellow also will assist ILAP’s legal staff in researching particular matters, obtaining court records and other case support, and will also work on website maintenance and with the flow of clients at the front desk. The fellow will learn to interview and engage with people of very different backgrounds and life circumstances, and gain insight into what immigrants experience in Maine, how the immigration system functions, and what attorneys’ jobs in these situations actually involve.

Projects include:

      • Assist clients in Immigration Clinic in filling out basic immigration forms and applications (e.g., for work permit or permanent residency "Green card") and then follow-up on each case to finalize and complete the assistance;
      • Participate in our new Citizenship Presentation and Forms program by providing attorney support in presentations, and maintaining client data to be reported for grant purposes.

Maine Center for Economic Policy (Economic Policy) – Augusta, ME

MECEP researches, analyzes, and writes about the need for better economic opportunities and policies for low and middle-income Mainers, and the growing divide between Maine’s wealthiest and poorest families. Opportunities at MECEP can be tailored based on the fellow’s interests in learning about public policy, economics, nonprofit management, advocacy, or communications. The fellow will conduct in-depth analysis of a particular policy issue that makes a difference in the lives of low- and moderate-income Mainers. Past research topics have included challenges facing new Mainers, the Opportunity Maine student loan tax credit, Maine workforce analysis, the impact of state and local taxes, and education-related programs. Using research results, the fellow will write a policy brief and media pieces for both traditional and social media and present findings to coalition partners and policymakers. The fellow will also participate in staff and board meetings and assist with communications and outreach activities.

Projects include:

      • Analyze, in depth, one or more state policy issues and contribute to other policy research during the summer. Project research opportunities are driven by grant funding and can be tailored to the fellow’s interest;
      • Support policy analysts and develop advocacy communication through blog posts, op-eds, and press releases.

Maine Migrant Health Program (Public Health/Diverse Communities) – Augusta, ME (carpooling possible)

The Maine Migrant Health Program (MMHP) is a unique safety net provider in Maine, providing mobile medical care to Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFWs), one of the country’s most underserved and invisible populations facing barriers to health care, including limited transportation, poverty and lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services. MMHP provides services in the evenings on-site in migrant housing areas, and also offers case management, medical interpretation, transportation, and health care navigation. The fellow will support field staff who provide Spanish and Creole language assistance in medical settings to patients in Washington, Aroostook and Hancock Counties and will provide project support in the Augusta office for research, analysis, and reporting.

Projects include:

      • Maine migrant and seasonal farmworker needs assessment in new communities;
      • Staffing of blueberry season resources including Rakers Center, Food Bank and mobile clinic.

Special Criteria:

      • Though not absolutely required, preference will be given to applicants who are proficient in either Spanish or Haitian Creole.
      • As the most active season for MMHP is in August as the harvest begins, fellows choosing this site are encouraged to work through August either by considering a modified schedule for the 10 week program (beginning and ending 2 weeks later), or adding weeks in August through an arrangement with MMHP..

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (Food Security) – Brunswick, ME

The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program works to reduce hunger by providing food assistance, sustainable living education and referral services to households living at or below poverty in Brunswick, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Durham, Harpswell, Lisbon, Lisbon Falls, and Topsham. The summer fellow will split their time between two areas of the MCHPP organization: The Food Security Coalition (FSC) and the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP). As a fellow for the FSC, the student will be helping to identify the prevalence of hunger among the elderly in the Midcoast Maine area and developing ways to increase food access to this vulnerable population; as well as helping food pantries and soup kitchens in Midcoast Maine to be more effective in meeting the needs of their clients. In their work with MCHPP, the fellow will focus on determining the need within the community for food processing resources as identified by the Merrymeeting Food Council. They will analyze the cost and regulatory logistics to use the MCHPP kitchen for use by outside parties, research the value of the services that MCHPP provides to the community and continue the Constituent Feedback program successfully started by last year’s Bowdoin fellow. If interested, the fellow could also learn how to develop grant proposals and agency mailings.

Projects include:

      • Evaluate the extent of senior hunger, and create a report on how seniors are affected by hunger, including possible solutions using existing organizations. The fellow will administer surveys with food pantry clients, creating new surveys for new areas of inquiry, analyze survey data, and summarize and present findings for possible implementation;
      • Evaluate the need for processing resources by local farmers, research regulations for processing facilities and analyze costs connected with using the MCHPP kitchen for processing produce. The fellow will consolidate the findings in a report to be presented to senior management and potentially the MCHPP board.

Mitchell Institute (Education Policy) – Portland, ME

The Mitchell Institute works to improve the likelihood that young people from every community in Maine will aspire to, pursue and achieve a college education. The summer fellow works as a Project Assistant on several Maine-focused, policy-oriented education research projects, using a blend of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The fellow will collect data on national and state education indicators; research promising practices in encouraging student aspirations; and conduct an annual college student and alumni survey using Excel and Access databases. The fellow will attend meetings and conferences and connect with partner organizations in the process of learning about nonprofit management.

Projects include:

      • Developing content for various Mitchell Institute communication channels to promote the organization’s offerings;
      • Assisting with distribution of an annual college student and alumni research survey and analyzing and summarizing data using Excel and Access databases.

Portland Housing Authority (Housing Policy/Immigrant & Refugee Communities) – Portland, ME

Together with its community partners, the Portland Housing Authority (PHA) provides and expands affordable housing and services that improve quality of life, build community, enhance safety and promote personal success for the people they serve and the neighborhoods in which they reside. The PHA provides safe, affordable housing options to over 2,700 households through its public housing and Housing Choice voucher programs. All of PHA’s residents have incomes well below the poverty line and around 75% of families living in Portland public housing have a country of origin other than the United States; most predominantly Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Most of the summer fellow’s work in Resident Services will be focused in four family housing developments around the city which are home to 565 families, including over 1,000 youth. The fellow with PHA will be afforded a variety of options to match the needs of the community with areas of interest for the Fellow.

Projects include:

  • Conduct community needs assessments in public housing neighborhoods around the City of Portland including 7 neighborhoods comprised of 12 developments with over 1,000 apartments between them;
  • Analyze data gathered; research opportunities to meet needs and overcome barriers; and based on these findings and analysis, make recommendations to the PHA to improve the use, efficacy, access to and interest in, its services.

Preble Street: Maine Hunger Initiative (Food Security) – Portland, ME

Preble Street and the Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative (MHI) advocate for solutions to end hunger in Maine and help low-income households move toward greater economic self-sufficiency. The summer fellow will help expand access to USDA federal nutrition programs such as the Food Supplement Program and the Summer Food Service Program in Maine and support the work of Preble Street Food Programs—the largest emergency food service delivery operation in northern New England—distributing nutritious meals and emergency food boxes for individuals and families who are homeless or living in poverty. The fellow will develop an understanding of the causes and effects of hunger and poverty, the emergency food system and public policy around hunger including government benefit programs, as well as volunteerism, community organizing, and group facilitation.

Projects include:

  • Increasing Food Supplement Program participation among seniors and working families, through outreach and application assistance at food pantries and senior housing facilities and recruiting and training volunteers;
  • Supporting and implementing the USDA Summer Food Service Program, Summer Meals for Kids, in underserved communities in nine Maine counties, including identifying eligible sites and finding potential community partners and site locations;
  • Supporting best-practices food work at Preble Street soup kitchen and food pantry to ensure a safe, respectful, low-barrier environment for Preble Street clients and help connect hungry people to programs that can help them move beyond hunger.