AUGUSTA — Jobs for Maine’s Graduates celebrated its 25th anniversary at a gala at the Augusta Civic Center on Sept. 28.

Hundreds of guests, including Maine business, community and government leaders, paid tribute to the 50,000 students JMG has served over 25 years. The event was hosted by Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Sen. Angus King, John Baldacci and John R. McKernan Jr., the four governors who have held office and supported JMG since the program’s inception.

Guests heard personal stories from alumni describing how the program changed their lives. “JMG gave me the confidence and the skills I needed to pursue leadership roles in my career,” Chad Burke, a business owner and member of the Maine Air National Guard, said. He participated in the first year of the program in 1993. “Little did I expect that 25 years later, I would have three children who would enroll in JMG and are also benefiting as they pursue post-secondary pathways and plan for their careers.”

JMG President and CEO Craig Larrabee announced that with the support of private investors, public funding and the LePage administration, JMG opened 25 new programs across the state this fall.

“Because of the strength of our public/private partnership approach, and bipartisan support for our mission, JMG has been able to expand our reach to 9,000 students annually,” Larrabee said. “JMG is immensely grateful for this opportunity to continue to prepare our students to meet the needs of Maine’s employers and strengthen the economy.”

Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, announced a $4.5 million grant to JMG. “We consider JMG to be one of Maine’s anchor organizations making important contributions to the state and economy,” he said. “We are very excited to help secure the future of this work and the continued success of the students served by JMG, who are members of Maine’s emerging workforce.”

The sum of $1.5 million of the Harold Alfond Foundation gift was awarded as a matching challenge grant supporting a $5 million endowment campaign launched by JMG at the gala. JMG’s endowment was seeded with a $500,000 gift from Maine philanthropist Paul Coulombe.

The remaining $3 million of the Harold Alfond Foundation gift will support expansion of JMG’s College Success Program over five years. The program will now be delivered on 10 campuses, serving students enrolled in Maine’s community college and university systems.

The College Success Program is a comprehensive post-secondary preparation, bridging, and credential completion program that starts in high school and continues seamlessly through the college.

“This investment ensures significantly more students will earn the post-secondary credentials required to succeed in today’s economy,” said Kim Acker Lipp, executive vice president for JMG. “The expansion of our model means JMG is the only statewide nonprofit providing a continuum of support to students from middle school, into high school, through post-secondary education and into meaningful careers.”

For more information about JMG or to discuss how to make a matching contribution to support JMG’s endowment campaign, contact Vice President of Institutional Advancement Heather Douglass at 207-332-0500 or [email protected]

JMG’s 25th anniversary gala was held Friday, Sept. 28, at the Augusta Civic Center.