Lewiston youth center director named Difference Maker

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LEWISTON — Julia Sleeper-Whiting, co-founder and director of the Tree Street Youth Center, was named one of the country’s 100 Difference Makers by a national pension fund.

Sleeper-Whiting was the only person in Maine to be named to the honor from among more than 4,000 nominees nationwide.

In a statement released by the fund, TIAA, Sleeper-Whiting and the other award recipients were recognized for being “extraordinary people who are devoting their lives to improving the world and shaping a brighter future.”

To mark the fund’s centennial year, TIAA will contribute a total of $1 million dollars, awarding $10,000 to each of the 100 recipients’ nonprofit organizations as part of the recognition.

Tree Street Youth Center serves the youth of the city of Lewiston with no-cost programs including after-school homework help and college prep, mentoring and arts activities.

Each day, 120 to 150 pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade students visit the center. Nearly all of the center’s clients live below the poverty line, and 65 percent are from newly arrived immigrant or refugee families.

TIAA was founded in 1918 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to provide those who dedicate their lives to teaching with security in retirement. 

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