Maine Community Colleges Receive $76M Donation for Workforce Training Programs

Funds will help propel short-term training programs in industries like welding and phlebotomy.
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Published on July 2, 2024
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  • A Maine-based nonprofit made a $75.5 million investment in the state's community college system.
  • The donation will fund short-term workforce training programs.
  • These programs will be developed in partnership with local employers to reskill or upskill workers.

A $75.5 million donation to the Maine Community College System (MCCS) will fuel short-term workforce training programs over the next five years.

MCCS announced the donation from the Harold Alfond Foundation on Thursday, marking the largest donation in MCCS' history. The system plans to use these funds to invest in the state's workforce training programs, which are expected to help approximately 70,500 students through 2029.

Maine faces persistent workforce shortages across all industries and age groups, and employers are desperate for skilled workers, fast, MCCS President David Daigler said in a statement. These programs, developed side-by-side with Maine employers large and small, give Maine workers free access to the skills they need to enter and progress in today's workforce.

This isn't the first donation from the Harold Alfond Foundation to improve workforce training in Maine.

MCCS said the foundation invested $3.6 million in short-term programs in 2018 and another $15.5 million in 2021. That brings the foundation's total investment in MCCS' workforce training programs to $94.6 million over the past six years.

Those previous investments helped establish the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine's Workforce. According to MCCS, more than 26,000 students have taken short-term training classes through the center since 2022.

The center has three primary goals:

  • Educate people looking to enter a field or career
  • Upskill current workers
  • Provide scholarships to workers pursuing an associate degree or one-year certification

The short-term workforce training programs can last as little as a few days, MCCS said, or as long as a few months. They are all free or discounted to students, thanks to the Harold Alfond Foundation's donations.

These programs are critical to building Maine's skilled workforce, and we've seen outstanding results at Maine's community colleges in recent years, Harold Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell said in a statement. We're proud our grantmaking will lead to so many people getting the relevant, responsive job skills so needed by our economy.

The Harold Alfond Foundation is a Maine-based nonprofit. According to ProPublica, its assets totaled $992 million in 2022.

Maine recently extended its free community college program for graduating high schoolers.

Short-term workforce development has been a popular topic of discussion in recent years. Congressional lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to pass legislation allowing students to use Pell Grants on these programs, but efforts have fallen short on multiple occasions.