LEWISTON — Twenty-two Maine teams applied for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Communities Challenge with ideas to lift up their local economies.

A Twin Cities effort aimed at “marginalized racial, income and social groups” has been picked as one of eight moving on to the next round.

“The core team of the L/A Working Communities Challenge is representative of a wide range of backgrounds, life experiences, professional expertise and is largely led by BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) individuals,” said Safiya Khalid, a Lewiston city councilor and one of the effort’s leaders. “These folks have wide understanding of issues in the communities and will be a vocal advocate on this work.”

Participants include the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Shawn Yardley, CEO of Community Concepts, said he was happy to offer his agency’s support and grant-writing expertise. The city of Lewiston also had a member of the Economic and Community Development office participate in planning sessions.

The eight chosen teams come from across Maine, focusing on child care, job training, youth, the outdoors and addressing poverty.

The Lewiston and Auburn team’s effort: “Build, support and sustain a culture of opportunity, equity, and inclusion that increases opportunity among marginalized racial, income and social groups,” according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston release.

Each team receives a $25,000 planning grant to support work over the next six months. They’ll next be winnowed to five, each receiving a $375,000 grant over three years.

Khalid said she’d be “thrilled for several things to take place” if they make it to the top five.

“The overarching goal being economic development in which we’ll see wage increases, addressing and taking action on workforce inequities that will benefit both of our Lewiston/Auburn communities,” she said.

Abdikhadar Shire, executive director and founder of AK Health and Social Services, was also involved in the grant writing and sat for one of the Federal Reserve interviews.

“Our goal is to get more people participating in the labor market,” Shire said. “If we are selected for the WCC, our hope is to improve the overall economy for everyone, but also to get more new Mainers communities that are disadvantaged/marginalized access to economic opportunities.”

According to the release, the challenge is funded by $2.7 million in philanthropic and business donations, federal grants and $300,000 from the State of Maine.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.