Aroostook students will turn college dreams into degree realities with a little help from the Maine Community Foundation.
Aroostook Aspirations Initiative recently received a $10,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation’s Meander Fund of Maine and the Pine Tree Fund. The two grants helped to jumpstart a supporting pillar of the Gauvin Scholar program become a reality, the Dreamcatcher Fund.
The Dreamcatcher fund allows Gauvin Scholars to borrow money when a crisis arises that interferes with their college education. The concept comes from the Gauvin’s experience serving on a local college foundation board. On numerous occasions, students would present to the board asking for assistance because of a hardship. Often these hardships would have prevented the students from attending classes and would have negatively impacted their education. “The Dreamcatcher program is very similar to programs offered at our local colleges in Aroostook County,” says April Flagg, Executive Director of Aroostook Aspirations. “The Dreamcatcher fund will work collaboratively with the local college programs to help Gauvin Scholars continue to attend classes and experience success in spite of challenges that may arise.”
This program allows Gauvin Scholars a resource to turn to in times of great need.
“It truly is an exceptional concept and will be of great importance in the coming years. Our program awarded Gauvin Scholars in 2014, and our plan is to award 32 in 2015. It is critical that the Dreamcatcher fund be available for our Gauvin Scholars in the years to come. Flagg shared that the program is already running successfully, working with the current Gauvin Scholars and setting up collaborative procedures with the local colleges.
Sandy Gauvin, President of the Board of directors for AAI, explains why the Dreamcatcher program is so important. “So many things happen in life that can get in the way of completing a college education. A student may have car problems that prohibit them from getting to classes or cash flow issues that prevent them from paying the rent – among other things. Murphy’s Law can take over at any moment!
What we want to do is help students, who already have financial issues to deal with and can’t afford crises that pop up, get the education that they deserve and need in order to have a successful life right here in The County.”
Ray and Sandy Gauvin founded Aroostook Aspirations Initiative (AAI) along with Vice President Jason Parent in April of 2013. Since that time the program has grown rapidly. In June of 2014 AAI welcomed 16 Aroostook County students as the first crop of Gauvin Scholars. The program includes financial support and mentoring, guidance, and networking within the County and statewide. With all 16 public school districts, the four Aroostook post-secondary intuitions, and several County and state business partnerships, Aroostook Aspirations will be a key component of the economic recovery and sustainability in the future. For more information, or to make a donation and help an Aroostook student make a college dream a degree reality, visit the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative website at www.gauvinfund.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call (207) 760-0558, or send a letter at Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, 26 North Street, Box 138, Presque Isle, ME 04769.
Photo: From left to right: Kari Wells-Puckett, Chair of the Aroostook County Committee of the Maine Community Foundation, April Flagg, Executive Director of Aroostook Aspirations, and Gregg Collins, former Chair and current committee member of the Aroostook County Committee of the Maine Community Foundation