A $2 million challenge grant from the Partridge Foundation has brought the College of the Atlantic and the Island Institute together in an effort to address four critical areas of concern for the islands in the Gulf of Maine: agriculture and food, energy, education, and adaptation to climate change.

The island communities of the Maine coast face significant challenges in the coming years. Changes in the ocean—due in large part to climate change—will likely cause greater economic instability for communities reliant on fishing. Food and energy costs continue to rise faster than incomes. Island towns with small populations face the ever-present concern of keeping schools open and ensuring that their students receive the same educational opportunities as kids on the mainland.

 Through the Fund for Maine Islands, College of the Atlantic and the Island Institute will directly address these challenges and will:

  • Create joint programming related to agriculture and food, energy, adaptation to climate change, and island ecology, which will be focused on Maine’s most remote island and coastal communities.
  • Complement and supplement each other’s work in these areas through frequent communication, staff interaction and cooperation, sharing intellectual resources related to mutual program priority areas, and coordinating fundraising activity to avoid duplication and to enhance messaging.
  • Develop a structure for governance of the collaboration that fosters mutual cooperation, recognizes the institutional integrity of each organization, and serves the purpose of increasing the sustainability of the focus communities and the Gulf of Maine.
  • Develop a new model for doing community development and higher education and, through that model, raise the public profiles of both the Island Institute and COA.
  • Inspire a new generation of philanthropy in support of coastal  Maine.

We envision that years from now, because of the Fund and our partnerships with committed islanders, Maine’s island communities will still be vibrant and thriving. They will also be valued as role models for solving some of the fundamental challenges that face island and remote coastal communities elsewhere.