February 4

Alfond Foundation gives $600,000 to Jobs for Maine’s Graduates

The grant will help the program, which prepares middle and high school students to prepare for continued education, expand and open new programs in Fairfield and Dexter.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A program that helped Waterville teenager Amber Haney get into college and prepare for a career has received a big shot in the arm from the Harold Alfond Foundation.

The foundation announced Tuesday that it is awarding Jobs for Maine’s Graduates a $600,000 challenge grant to help the program continue, expand and open new programs at schools in Fairfield and Dexter.

That is a real vote of confidence for a program that was invaluable to Haney, 18, while she was a student at Waterville Senior High School. It helped her realize her potential to be a high school English teacher, apply for scholarships and get accepted to Thomas College in Waterville, where she is majoring in secondary education.

“It motivated me to take a step further and push for what I wanted to do,” Haney said Tuesday from the Thomas campus. “Before, I didn’t know how I was going to get into college or how to pay for it.”

Jobs for Maine’s Graduates is a nonprofit organization that partners with public high and middle schools to help prepare students for continued education, as well as careers. About 5,000 students are enrolled annually in the program, which is in its 21st year.

The Foundation will match, dollar for dollar, new contributions made to the program for up to $600,000, according to a news release issued Tuesday by both the Alfond Foundation and Jobs Program.

“We could not be more thrilled to be partnering with JMG, an organization whose mission and programs are in such great need statewide, with such a strong track record of success,” Greg Powell, the Foundation chairman, said in the release. “This grant allows us to support the organization as well as the communities of Dexter and Fairfield – and to build on the successes achieved in Waterville, Oakland and many other communities statewide.”

Half of the matching grant will support the program’s operations directly. The other $300,000 will support the cost of new programs at Lawrence High School in Fairfield and Dexter Regional High School in Dexter.

Craig Larrabee, president and chief executive officer of the Jobs Program, said in the news release that to receive such an investment from one of the largest and most well-respected foundations in New England is an honor.

“We are excited to be able to bring our program to the young people of Fairfield and Dexter and immensely grateful for the opportunity this challenge grant provides,” he said.

The Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program is in 76 high and middle schools all over the state, according to Lisa Gardner, the program’s communications manager.

A Jobs for Maine’s Graduates specialist teaches the classes and is hired, trained and employed by the program, she said. The program helps students improve personal and communication skills to help them in continued education and careers. It also helps them attain and retain jobs, Gardner said.

The program meant the difference between going to college or going directly to work after high school for Haney. She graduated from Waterville Senior High School in 2013 and had taken three years of Jobs for Maine’s Graduates courses, the last two with specialist Joe Haney, who is no relation to her, she said.

She said she learned a variety of valuable life skills in the courses, including how to fill out job and college applications and file income taxes, as well as how to do public speaking, handle job interviews, dress and sell herself.

“It kind of pushes you along,” she said. “It’s kind of like a helping hand to get you into the real world.”

She added that Joe Haney “helped me apply for scholarships, and he helped people if they were failing classes.”

(Continued on page 2)

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