Open for Opportunity: Investing in Maine’s Brightest Students
Why donate? The Institute’s guiding tenet—that no Maine student with the qualifications and ambition to pursue a college education should be denied that opportunity due to limited financial resources—is as important today as it was when Senator Mitchell established the Institute over a decade ago.
At its inception, the Institute made financial investments in deserving Maine students. Over the years, it became clear that Scholars’ success depended on more than just their hard work and the Mitchell Scholarship. Through both observation and evidence-based research, the Institute came to understand that support, guidance, mentoring, and counseling, both during and after college, could dramatically increase Scholars’ chances of attaining a degree and finding meaningful employment in Maine. In response, the Institute formalized a suite of programs that encourage a partnership with each Scholar, every step of the way. Today, Scholars and Alumni say repeatedly that the combination of financial and personal support makes a world of difference for them and their families.
In preparing for the Institute’s future, there are two distinct priorities. First, the scholarship award must keep pace with the cost of college today. Unmet need among Scholar families is 500% higher today than it was in 1999. The Institute must remain relevant, and to do so, the scholarship award must increase. Second, as demand for support programs rises among Scholars and Alumni alike—and the benefits of these programs continue to prove themselves—the Institute must position itself to safeguard these unique offerings in perpetuity.
Challenge Creates Opportunity
For past generations of Mainers, a high school diploma and strong work ethic were often enough to achieve a comfortable lifestyle and economic stability. Today, that is no longer the case. As the job market has shifted away from manufacturing toward a knowledge based economy, it is clear that post-secondary education is the key to individual prosperity and economic security. In this new environment, data suggest that not enough Americans are completing college, including Mainers. Maine will need to fill 196,000 job vacancies by 2018, of which 59% (115,000 jobs) will require post-secondary credentials. Yet college attainment among adults in Maine today is the lowest of all the New England states—37% compared with a New England average of 44%.
College attainment influences lifetime earning potential, too, which has deep ramifications for Maine’s economy: an individual with just a high school diploma will earn, on average, $1.3 million over the course of his or her lifetime, while a Bachelor’s degree will yield, on average, $2.3 million in earnings over a working life.
Meeting the Need
Since the formation of the Mitchell Institute in 1999, average unmet financial need among Mitchell Scholars at the time they apply for the scholarship has increased more than 800%, from $896 to $7,508. Over the same time period, the annual Mitchell Scholarship payout has increased by 100%, from $1,000 to $2,000. We need your help to increase the scholarship further and meet the need of Mitchell Scholars.
Funding the Future
As these factors converge—an ever-emerging need for a skilled workforce and the rising cost of college—it is clear that Maine’s brightest and most deserving students will continue to need much more than a high school diploma to fulfill their greatest potential.
Now is the time to remain relevant in the midst of these challenges—and do our part to counter-act them. With your help, we will increase our scholarship award and invest in our programs—the very offerings that help Scholars and Alumni gain a foothold in Maine’s job market. By committing these resources to our Scholars and Alumni, we will continue to play an important role in shaping Maine’s future workforce.