Annie CollinsSecond Annual Awards Presented at the Senator Inn  Augusta – Next Step Maine, a program of the Maine Development Foundation, today recognized 21 winners of the Next Step Maine Scholarship in a presentation at the Senator Inn. This is the second year of the Next Step Maine Scholarship, a fund designed to recognize “Employees of Promise” who are nominated by their employers. The goal of the fund is to support and recognize working adults who are pursuing college degrees or certificates while also juggling jobs, families, and other responsibilities. The scholarships include seventeen $1,000 awards, two $1,500 awards, and two $500 awards.

Jennifer Laliberte“The future of Maine’s economy rests on the shoulders of people like those we are recognizing today: people pursuing college degrees and advanced training,” said Amertah Perman, Program Director for the Maine Development Foundation. “The jobs of the future, here and across the nation, will require greater levels of education, skills, and training than ever before. There are over 187,000 adults in Maine who started college but didn’t complete a degree, and with the Next Step Maine Scholarship we want to move some of these dedicated adults a little closer to that goal.”

Attendees at today’s awards reception included the scholarship winners, their employers, families and friends as well as major donors to the scholarship fund.

Employers who nominated their employees for the scholarships are members of a statewide network of 219 employers who have committed to take one more step to support education and
Melissa Kapociustraining by providing better opportunities for their employees. The Next Step Maine project is a website based resource developed to better assist adult learners in their efforts to return to school and advance their education by providing informational resources on a variety of schools and programs throughout the State. There are 15 colleges and universities collaborating on the site, which lists over 700 “adult friendly” degree programs.


Jonathan Heath“We know that employers are critical; when employers demonstrate support for skill development and higher education, employees are far more likely to take action to pursue a degree or career goal,” continued Perman. “And when they reach those goals and milestones, the employer, the individual, and the whole state benefit.”

Donors to the Next Step Maine scholarship fund and awards event include the Maine Community Foundation, Acadia Insurance, Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, Bangor Savings Bank, Bancroft & Company, Cianbro, Doyle & Nelson, Pratt & Whitney, Reny’s, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Maine State Council, the University of Maine System, Unum, and WEX. A volunteer committee worked with staff at the Maine Development Foundation to read and review over 76 nominations received from employers.

Lauren Perkins“We are so happy to work with the Maine Development Foundation in the effort to recognize employees who are going the extra mile,” said Deb Whitworth, President of the SHRM Maine State Council. “As human resources professionals, we know how important it is to find and develop the very best talent for Maine’s employers, and ultimately for our economy as a whole.”