FAIRFIELD — The Plum Creek Foundation recently awarded a $1,000 grant to the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center to help fund the organization’s 2015 Maine NEW Leadership Program.

The Maine NEW Leadership Program is a free, six-day, nonpartisan residential leadership program for 28 undergraduate college women. The program is designed to educate and inspire the next generation of female civic leaders, according to a release from the foundation.

According to Mary Cathcart, director, the program offers hands-on training in public speaking, coalition building, networking and advocacy.

“Women are significantly underrepresented in legislatures, both in Maine and across the country. We need to work together to encourage young women to become strong leaders,” said Cathcart in the release. “Thanks to the help of the Plum Creek Foundation, we can provide bright, young females with the opportunity to gain leadership skills and confidence.”

This year’s program will take place from Thursday, May 28, to Tuesday, June 2. During the week, participants will spend a day at the Maine Legislature where they will observe the legislature in session and meet with elected officials, participate in various workshops including public speaking, networking, and crafting a message, and much more. At the end of the program, participants present an action project, deliver a mock legislative testimony and take part in a mock press conference about a legislative issue.

Maine NEW Leadership graduates have been selected for municipal committees and boards, have run for campus, local and state office and have created diversity of coalitions at their universities. The Plum Creek Foundation grant will help fund cost of housing and meals for the participants.

The mission of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center is to improve and promote the quality of public dialogue about state, regional, and national policy issues through applied policy research and community engagement. For more information, visit mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu.

The mission of the Plum Creek Foundation is to provide philanthropic contributions to support and improve the general welfare of life in the communities that Plum Creek serves. The foundation board meets quarterly to review applications submitted from organizations in the company’s operating communities. Visit the Community Involvement page on Plum Creek’s website at plumcreek.com to download an application.

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