Western Mountain Alliance races to meet endowment grant challenge

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FARMINGTON — With an April 30 deadline looming, Western Mountains Alliance is racing to finish raising $25,000 to match a challenge grant to create an endowment for future programs and the operation of WMA.

It is $3,200 away from raising the $25,000 after receiving two gifts from area banks.

Optimistic about making the goal, the organization continues to raise funds in order to meet the challenge from the Maine Community Foundation, said Tricia Cook, program coordinator.

A recent mailing has been sent out and raffle tickets for $100 worth of fresh foods from the online market, found at www.westernmountainsalliance.org, can be purchased for $20, she said. The winner will be drawn on May 7.

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If it makes the goal, a total of $50,000 will be set aside for an endowment. Otherwise, WMA will have the funds it has raised since last fall, she said.

Bangor Savings Bank has donated $1,000 toward the campaign and also pledged an additional $1,000 of support. Franklin Savings Bank committed a $2,000 gift toward the endowment last month.

Founded in 1987, WMA has offered numerous programs for the community over the last 20 years. Dozens of western Maine residents participated in the Rural Youth Leaders Program, Rural Leaders Institute and Lead Western Maine programs. WMA works with economic development directors throughout the region to organize public forums on topics such as wind power development and tax reform.

In 2009, WMA launched the Western Maine Market, an online site for small farmers and value-added food producers to sell direct to consumers. The organization publishes the only annually updated guide to farms and farm stands in the region and has helped facilitate the Franklin County Ag Task Force, a group of community members and farmers working to support local agriculture.

“WMA’s approach to community and economic development has always been entrepreneurial,” said Tanya Swain, executive director. “Over the long-term, endowment resources will enable the organization to continue to serve as an innovator and network hub in the region. It will also afford us the flexibility to pursue new opportunities to promote small and emerging businesses.”

“The leadership of these two banks is helping build a resource that will benefit the region for years to come,” Swain said.

For more information, contact Tanya Swain at (207) 778-3885 or info@westernmountainsalliance.org.

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