Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission is seeking a grant to help rural communities combat challenges facing working families. Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes told county commissioners Nov. 16, the commission has a Dec. 1 deadline to apply for a Maine Working Communities Challenge grant offered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The Working Communities Challenge is a two-part program consisting of a six-month design phase followed by a three-year implementation phase.
The Working Community Challenge supports local teams working together to improve economic outcomes for all people in Maine’s towns, cities and rural communities. Grant recipients will address economic growth and reduce inequity of opportunity tied to race, ethnicity and other aspects of identity and background. Barnes is working on submitting a phase 1 application in hopes of securing one of eight design phase grants. Recipients will receive a $25,000 grant for six months. “Our team is writing a letter of interest limited to 50 words working on a concept for finding solutions to the challenges of low-income families.”
Barnes reported 75 Maine communities, four in Lincoln County, were identified as “priority communities.” The Lincoln County towns identified are Wiscasset, Whitefield, Damariscotta and Waldoboro. Another five are in Knox and Sagadahoc counties so the commission is working with Midcoast Economic Development District in submitting an application, said Barnes.
The design phase provides coaching, workshops and time for strengthening and diversifying their teams, identifying a shared compelling cause, brainstorming strategies to address their shared goal and experiment with addressing the issue identified, according to a Maine Working Communities Challenge press release. The design phase runs from April to September 2001.
Each team receiving a design phase grant will organize a core group to attend six workshops (virtual, until health conditions improve). Recipients may use the grant to support work completed, travel expenses, stipends, community outreach and hiring a facilitator or coordinator.
Five of the eight design phase participants will qualify for the second round or implementation phase. Recipients will qualify for a $375,000 grant over a three-year period. Recipients are expected to broaden and deepen existing work in the community or start new work. Implementation grants are due upon completion of the first phase. The implementation phase starts in November 2021. “It’s a pretty competitive process, but I think we will represent our community well,” Barnes told the commissioners. “This is an opportunity to change our economy with the goal of improving family income through job training, public transit, child care and affordable housing.”