Twenty-two corporate and civic sponsors have seeded a new fund designed to tackle systemic racism in Maine.
The Racial Justice Fund is a project from the Maine Justice Foundation, a nonprofit legal aid foundation. Executive Director Michelle Giard Draeger says although these issues should have been solved "many decades ago," equality and justice are still not available to everyone.
"That should matter to all of us, because if it's not available to some of us, it's not truly available to us as a nation."
The initial fund has raised $270,000. The 22 sponsors, including a number of law firms and Maine-based businesses were asked to give $10,000 each, and the fund got a $50,000 boost from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.
Giard Draeger says the project is structured as a hybrid endowment, in which the funds will accrue for long-term use, but a portion will be made immediately in the form of grants to support racial justice projects. An advisory panel has been convened, and she says a process is being created. She says she hopes to have the project up and running and grants going out to recipients in a matter of months.
The Maine Justice Foundation was established 1983 as the Maine Bar Foundation, to provide civil legal aid for disadvantaged Mainers.