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FAQ – Racial Equity Fund

Frequently Asked Questions: Racial Equity Fund

Since 2016, UWSM has convened individuals and organizations around Thrive2027, three 10-year goals to improve education, financial stability, and health for every person in Southern Maine. 

Although UWSM-funded programs currently serve an estimated 50% people of color in Southern Maine, UWSM has established the Racial Equity Fund as one step to more intentionally address disparities in education, financial stability, and health. 

To drive action and build on existing work to address inequities, the Racial Equity Fund will support the work of local nonprofits led by and serving people of color in our community, while advancing the work at the heart of the Thrive2027 initiative. 

What are the criteria for funding? 

The Racial Equity Fund will:

  • support and strengthen organizations led by and serving people of color, all while advancing the work at the heart of the community-led, ten-year initiative called Thrive2027.
  • Prioritize organizations led by and serving people who are Black/African American
  • Define “led” as the CEO/ED being a person of color (or the board is comprised of a majority of people of color if there is no paid staff).
  • Require that of the population served, 50% or more of people served by both organization and the specific program would need to be Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
  • Allow applicants to select any of the Thrive2027 strategies, not just those deemed “lead strategies” by the Thrive2027 Goal Cabinets.
  • Provide capacity building in the form of resources and technical assistance to help strengthen organizations, including supporting them to be more competitive for funding from other sources (details below).

Otherwise, UWSM’s regular investment criteria apply:

  • The program must serve people in UWSM’s service area (York and Cumberland County, minus Brunswick, Harpswell, Kittery, and Eliot).
  • The lead organization must be a non-profit 501(c)(3), an Indian Tribal government, or can demonstrate a legal relationship with an established 501(c)(3) acting as your fiscal agent.
  • The program must be doing work that demonstrates progress toward the Thrive2027 Goals.
  • All partners named in the application must operate consistent with applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and ordinances, and comply with UWSM’s counter-terrorism compliance agreement as outlined in the application.

Applicants will need to identify the specific action or effort they will undertake to advance Thrive2027. Specifically, applicants will need to be willing to work with UWSM on:

  • Developing data-driven program activities and evidence-based best practices or promising practices, that are based in research;
  • Articulating the way(s) in which collaboration with other organizations is included in program creation, implementation and/or evaluation; and
  • Developing how to demonstrate measurable impact on Thrive2027 Goals Framework Strategies as shown through Shared Performance Measures.

What are the eligible uses of the fund?

Funds can be used on programmatic work or advocacy/policy/practice work tied to advancing Thrive2027 financial, educational, and health outcomes and the funded program must be working towards (or willing to work towards) meeting one of the shared performance measures in the Goal Framework.

Additionally, up to 50% of an award can be used for capacity-building and technical assistance in order to support strengthening organizations and helping them become more resilient.

Categories of capacity-building and technical assistance include:

  • Professional development for staff and board
  • Strategic/organizational planning support
  • Opportunities for peer learning
    • Enabling collaboration
  • Support for resource development, including fundraising
  • Technology
  • Data, measurement, and evaluation
  • General operating support
  • Other, as identified as important by the applicant

How will United Way of Southern Maine ensure that eligible organizations are aware of the fund?

UWSM will reach out via our email list, our social media accounts, and through our volunteer network of our Board of Directors, Diversity Action Council, and other volunteer committees to spread the word far and wide. We welcome your help in sharing this information.

How will United Way of Southern Maine support organizations to apply for this funding?

As is our usual practice, UWSM staff assists applicants in applying for funding to identify strategies and metrics that are a good fit. We will partner with any organization interested in pursuing funding to help them to create the strongest possible application.

How will United Way of Southern Maine prioritize organizations led by and serving members of our Black/ African American community?

United Way of Southern Maine is committed to this fund focusing on organizations led by and serving members of our Black/ African American community and will clearly instruct the volunteers that this is the fund’s priority.

The volunteer committee will be instructed to prioritize such organizations by means of additional weighting in the evaluation process, by requiring that at least 50% of the grants awarded go to such organizations or other such mechanisms based upon the number of applications received.

What is the geographic focus of this fund? 

The area served by this fund is individuals who live in York and Cumberland County, minus Brunswick, Harpswell, Kittery, and Eliot.

Size and number of awards

There is no minimum or maximum award, and the decision-making committee can make decisions about number and size.

Who makes decisions?                                  

The decision-making committee will include a diverse cross-sector group (business, government, non-profit, and philanthropy) with close ties to Thrive2027 and with at least 50% representation of people of color. Additionally, we will aim to have members from each of the Thrive2027 goal cabinets and from UWSM’s Diversity Action Council. At least two members will be UWSM Board members. Fund recommendations will be approved by UWSM’s Community Impact Steering Committee.

How will we know who receives funding? 

Awards will be made in early 2022 and UWSM will post awardees on this website and announce to the press. 

We are an organization interested in applying for this fund. How can we be considered?  

Grant applications are due November 1. The application opens on September 20, 2021 and once open, an application link will be advertised on United Way of Southern Maine’s social media accounts and website and will be linked here.

Which organizations were funded in the inaugural year of the Racial Equity Fund?

Organization Name  

Project Title  

Award Amount 

Hand In Hand/ Mano En Mano  

(as fiscal agent for Presente! Maine)  

Cuidado Colectivo  


Cross Cultural Community Services 

Parent Ambassador Training Program  


In Her Presence  

“Moving Onto the Stage”  


Gateway Community Services Maine 

Youth Mentoring Program  


Maine Association For New Americans  

Resilient New Americans (RNA) and MANA Mingles  


Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center 

The Immigrant Business Hub  


Intercultural Community Center 

Family CARES (Connection-Advocacy-Resources-Equity-Support)  


Al Badoo Community Association of Maine  

Project to ensure Al Badoo Community has the education, the employment opportunities and the resources to achieve financial stability.  


How do I donate to the Racial Equity Fund?

All donors have the option to direct their donation to Racial Equity Fund through the standard pledge form or electric pledge process. If a donor is not presenting that option, they can make a donation to United Way of Southern Maine and email info@uwsme.org to request that their donation be directed to the REF. All contributions to the Racial Equity Fund made after November 1, 2021 will be directed toward other United Way supported work that serves People of Color. This flexible funding helps United Way mobilize individuals in the recovery and rebuilding of a more equitable, resilient community.