Helping young Maine students build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

Friends,

Maine College Circle is a nonprofit, publicly-supported, 501(c)(3) organization committed to helping more Maine students make more of the opportunity of higher education. Based in Yarmouth since 1992, we put our energy into supporting the other parts of Maine -- whole communities that, for various reasons, believe that higher education is not an opportunity for them. People in these communities often blame cost as the reason why higher education is not accessible to them, but our experience is that their reasons for not pursuing education are far more complex. Many of these communities with histories built on wood and harvesting and production and natural resources struggle to see the role of knowledge and education in a future economy. Heating their home and keeping the lights on compete with building plans for a brighter future for their community. They often and rightly argue that a “college” education is not needed. They argue in favor of a “trade” or “trade skills.” These skills do keep the lights on, but I am not convinced that they build a brighter future.

Raising aspirations and building a brighter future takes years and a long-term commitment. Aspirations rarely flourish without ongoing support from the student’s community. The solution is not a large investment of cash. The solution is engaging the community so that they will invest in their own future. Maine College Circle’s offer to these communities is time and information. Maine College Circle provides early information for students in economically-challenged Maine communities -- information we think is critical. We spend time in these communities talking with students and community members and civic organizations and parents to help build community energy in support of the future of their youth and their community.

We look for financial support from individuals and philanthropic organizations who care about these communities, their youth, and their future -- individuals and organizations that believe, as we do, that education and aspirations are the keys to building a bright future in these communities, and in our state.

We look for support from businesses who care about the welfare and prosperity of these communities.

We look for support from individuals who grew up in these communities, have moved away, but still care about, and want to support, their roots. These people can offer new ideas and a helpful perspective.

We look for support from members of the community. Some fund $100 College Aspirations Scholarships for children in their community. Others provide a free haircut for Future of Maine scholarship recipients and VIPs. Some provide 50 cents off a hot chocolate for the VIPs. Some help their children prepare for the College Knowledge Bowl. Some talk with their kids about their college plans. Some attend Future of Maine scholarship ceremonies to help celebrate the aspirations of children in their community.

I grew up in Maine, with many generations before me. It is a unique and wonderful state -- full of challenges and potential. I hope you will join us in our efforts to build a bright future for our youth, the communities they will create, and for our world.

Thank you,

Bob Stuart
Maine College Circle
251 Main Street
Yarmouth, Maine 04096
207-846-6770
bstuart@mainecollegecircle.org