Empowering young Maine students to build a brighter future . . . for themselves and for their communities.


The Beliefs That Guide Our Mission

Education is the best strategy for building a brighter future for communities throughout the country, including rural Maine communities. Tax policies and government support programs may keep the lights on, but they do not build a brighter future, as education does.

The mission of Maine College Circle is to help more students make more of the opportunity of higher education, with a special focus on rural Maine communities. We pursue this mission by supporting better, earlier, and equal access to information on the opportunity of education, particularly higher education. We try to provide inspiration and energy to build aspirations. We emphasize the value of effort. We insist on community engagement and try to build energy within each community to support their children and their community’s future. That is never simple or easy, and it takes years.

We can’t ask children to aspire to what they don’t know and understand. Information on education, particularly higher education, is the foundation upon which students and their communities can build aspirations for a brighter future.

Waiting until late in high school to build aspirations for higher education is not a winning strategy, and will leave many communities and this country disappointed. This is particularly true in rural communities where the opportunity of higher education is not part of the beliefs and conversation of elementary and middle school students, their families, and their community.

Effort and motivation are essential values to success in education and to making the most of the opportunity of higher education. Our message to K-12 students over the past 20 years and for the next 20 years has and will emphasize the value of effort.

Community engagement is essential. We do not pursue or promote programs with large outside funding. A critical part of our mission is a long-term effort to build support and ownership of community members and those close to and supportive of the community. We try not to be a “program.” We try to build a culture within the community which energetically supports a brighter future for its youth and its community through education. We want the initiative to be theirs and not ours.

This country’s history is full of very well intentioned and well funded educational initiatives from the outside. Sometimes these initiatives hide in schools. Often they have a five-year window. But, they end. Building aspirations and a better future takes years. Successful initiatives do not end. Aspirations in the mind of a 3rd grade student will only grow if they are nurtured by the community for years.

A successful initiative must not hide in schools alone, nor can it be pushed by communities onto the education world. An honest partnership of community members is essential. That requires an initiative that is educationally sound to educators and community members, and that is digestible by, and in the language of, the community outside of schools.

Maine College Circle focuses on providing information to students in grades 3 – 8 in rural Maine communities through workshops which have already reached over 80,000 students in 124 Maine communities, and through other print resources. Maine College Circle helps to fund $100 Future of Maine College Aspirations Scholarships for Maine students in grades 3 – 6 in participating communities. This scholarship application process requires research, information, aspirations, and effort. The ten-year-old Maine College Advisor Weekly, the community-based Future of Maine VIP program, and the Maine College Knowledge Bowl all provide digestible and fundamental information, and opportunities for communities to support the aspirations of their youth.

Perhaps the most important element that Maine College Circle provides is time – time in communities, meeting with community members, trying to build energy among community members to build a brighter future for their children and their community through education. This initial investment of time talking with and engaging community members is far more valuable than any large financial investment, and it is at the core of our mission to help build a bright future in communities throughout Maine.

Bob Stuart
Maine College Circle
251 Main Street
Yarmouth, Maine 04096