The Carignan legacy

The James and Sally Carignan Fund for Community Programs was created to honor the decades of service by the Carignans to Bates, the Lewiston-Auburn community, and the state of Maine. Each year, community partners of the College are invited to submit grant proposals designed to enable and enrich sustainable initiatives that address community needs through partnership with the College.

One aspect of this program that makes it stand out from others is that the grant decisions are made solely by Bates students, with Harward Center staff providing administrative support. Any Bates student can apply to serve on the committee, which can vary in size from 6 to 12 students. The group meets several times during the fall semester for orientation, training, deliberation, and decision making. In addition, individuals put in several hours of grant review on their own. This year, Holly Lasagna of Healthy Androscoggin, our local community health coalition, met with the students to talk about challenges facing nonprofits and the important role nonprofits play in the lives of local residents. She also talked to them about effective grant writing and what they should look for in evaluating a grant.

Those who work with the student committee members are consistently impressed by the seriousness with which they take their work, their openness in weighing all opinions expressed within the group, and their ability to work through their differences to come to an agreement. Though the grants are small (the maximum an organization can apply for is $2000), the students exercise enormous care in deciding which institutions should receive the funding.

As Dean of the College, Jim Carignan strongly believed that students had the capacity to make wise decisions for themselves if given the opportunity and some guidance. He also believed in people’s capacity to behave civilly in working through their differences. Every  year the Carignan Fund Selection Committee’s work brings to mind Jim’s optimism and his belief in people’s capacity to do the right thing. How proud he would be to watch these students make such thoughtful decisions in an atmosphere of respect and civility.

Click here for more information about the Carignan Fund or contact Peggy Rotundo.