Unum pledges $300,000 donaton to Snowe’s leadership institute

Unum, of Portland, an employee benefits provider, has pledged a $300,000 donation to support the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, the organization said in a news release.

The gift from Unum is divided into two $150,000 parts: an unrestricted donation and a separate matching grant to motivate other corporations to support the institute’s work, which helps build the confidence and aspirations of high school girls across Maine.

Unum’s full $300,000 donation will be matched as part of a Harold Alfond Foundation $1.4 million challenge grant to the Institute.

Education in local communities is a top priority and the single biggest area of giving for Unum. The company has been a supporter of the nonprofit’s program since former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe founded the institute in 2015, both financially and through volunteer work by its staff.

Other Unum executives serving as institute advisors are Julia Bailin, director of client experience; Julie Bourgeois, director of operations management; Andrea Gordon, senior vice president of core segment; Vicki Gordon, senior vice president and chief auditor; Michelle LaFond. vice President and chief regulatory counsel; Leah MacLeod, community relations specialist, and Cary Olson Cartwright, associate vice president, corporate social responsibility

KV Council of Governments appoints Cyr exective director

Laura Cyr is the new executive director of Kennebec Valley Council of Governments in Fairfield, according to a news release from KVCOG.

Cyr joins the team with a background in public policy and project management. Most recently, she served as special projects manager for the University of Maine System, where she led a successful pre-disaster mitigation grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She also has experience in education, community advocacy, and campaign management.

Cyr joins KVCOG as it celebrates 50 years of regional economic development and planning.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters revamps itself to draw more volunteers

More than 100 children are waiting for Big Brothers and Big Sisters throughout eastern, coastal and central Maine, according to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine. That’s nearly the size of an entire fifth grade class in most elementary schools.

The agency is hoping to change that with the launch of a national rebranding effort that focuses on the urgent need to recruit adult mentors statewide, according to a news release from the agency’s Monica Charette.

The nationally known youth mentoring program unveiled a new rebranding effort in October with more than 300 affiliates across the country. Gone are the soft purple colors and abstract stick figures from the previous logo. In its place, a bold black and electric green capital B, with three interconnected lines that illustrate the parent, the “Little” and “Big” joining together to defend a child’s potential.

“Our core model of building bridges in communities by connecting one adult with one child and supporting that match at every stage is the same,” Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson said, according to the release. “But the urgency is greater than ever. We want people to stand with us. Help us defend every child’s potential, and our role as adults in helping children achieve their best possible futures.”

Hudson said the century-old program needed a modernization of the national brand to make an impact in the community and meet the need of the essential work of matching youth, one-on-one, with mentors.

Months of national research, including focus groups with potential Bigs, as well as current Bigs, Littles, donors, staff members and leaders showed that the brand was not connecting effectively with younger, prospective mentors or conveying the urgent mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization is intentionally pivoting from messages of the importance of mentoring, to the immediate need for the adults in the community to step up to defend the potential of every child.

“We know that youth are facing numerous challenges. Our new brand is designed to help us ensure we can serve more children by recruiting more volunteers,” Hudson said, according to the release. “The need for young people to have a role model is more critical than ever.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine provides children facing adversity in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot, Somerset and Waldo counties with professionally supported, one-to-one relationships. “Littles” in the program achieve measurable outcomes, including better grades in school, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships.

Compiled from contributed releases

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