University of Maine System and FOCUSMaine Among Recipients of $500 Million in Grants from Harold Alfond Foundation

Maine’s six-university system will receive $240 million from the foundation over 12 years, and plans to use the money to fund a new engineering college, a graduate facility, scholarships, athletics and more, according to a news release. This grant is the largest ever to a public institute of higher education in New England and the eighth-largest to a U.S. public institute. Pierce Atwood partner and Employment Practice Group Leader Jim Erwin is Chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

FOCUS Maine, a business-led initiative to create jobs in high-growth fields across the state, was awarded $5.18 million.  The funding, to be allocated over three years, will support the organization's work to spur employment in life sciences, agriculture, and aquaculture. Pierce Atwood partner and Government Relations Practice Group Leader Andrea Cianchette Maker is co-founder and co-chair of FocusMaine.

In addition to the UMaine System and FOCUSMaine, grant recipients include the Portland-based Roux Institute at Northeastern University, the University of New England, Thomas College, Colby College, Waterville Creates!, and the Jackson Laboratory.

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Since its founding in 1950, the Harold Alfond Foundation has furthered the philanthropic legacy of Harold Alfond, the founder of Dexter Shoe Co. and a longtime supporter of Maine’s communities and people. That legacy includes an emphasis on three broad giving areas, still the focus today: education, health care, and youth and community development. The foundation has assets of over $800 million and in 2019 awarded $47.1 million to 55 organizations, with 89% of the funds going to Maine recipients.