Maine College Circle Empowering the next generation of Maine . . . through aspirations, education, and effort.

Our nonprofit

Maine College Circle was established in 1992 as a publicly-supported, 501(c)(3) nonprofit to help provide better, equal, and earlier access to information and inspiration about the opportunity of higher education. The name of the nonprofit was changed in 2018 from the Foundation for the Advancement of Education to Maine College Circle. Today, Maine College Circle's Future of Maine Initiative helps shape early aspirations, while we emphasize the value of effort. Our goal is to help build a brighter future for rural Maine students and for their communities.

Maine College Circle is led by a staff of one, the program director, an active Board of Directors made up of educators, business professionals, and college students from Maine. And, much of the work is done and led locally by over 100 volunteers from around the state. We have a strong partnership with the Mitchell Institute and Mitchell Scholars who join us at most of our Aspirations Workshops. And, we have a very active group of students at Bowdoin College (the Bowdoin College Maine College Circle Group through the McKeen Center). We are slowly developing partnerships with other Maine colleges so that we can engage the next generation in shaping the future of rural Maine.

Aspirations for our future. Engagement of the next generation.

The Maine College Circle Mission:

To inform and inspire early aspirations . . . to empower the youth of rural Maine . . . to build a brighter future for themselves . . . and for their communities.

Our mission is clear.

Our goals are not small. And they aren’t simple. Our goals are not to extract the best and brightest from rural Maine and send them off to Harvard. Our goal is to help young students along a path to a career and life that they will be proud of. And, our parallel goal is to build a brighter future for the communities of rural Maine.

We recognize the value of education beyond high school, what we call “a college education,” in building a brighter future for all. The future will require more skills, more knowledge, and a greater ability to solve not only more challenging technical problems, but even more so, more complex social and global problems.

We are convinced that aspirations are fundamental to successful learning, and fundamental to building a brighter future for every individual. Aspirations are equally important to the future of every community. Communities that aspire, and put in the effort, will have a brighter future. Communities that don’t aspire are destined to a future of despair.

Connecting the aspirations and effort of the individuals to their communities is our challenge. It is done by engaging the next generation -- those who will shape the future of the community. Plenty of rural Maine teenagers express a determination to “get out of town,” but that is in part because the community hasn’t engaged them and helped them connect their future to the community’s future.

Our Strategic Plan for the 2020’s – Aspirations & Engagement is focused on engaging students in their communities and around the state. Maine College Circle’s strong partnerships, developed over many years, with the Mitchell Institute, with Bowdoin College students, with past Future of Maine Scholarship recipients, and with students from other Maine colleges have shown us the potential of these students to help shape the future of rural Maine. We can’t afford to pass up that potential that is right there in our own communities. Solutions to a brighter future are much less likely to come from someone else from somewhere else.

Over the next ten years:


1. Maine College Circle will continue to visit elementary schools (Aspirations Workshops, over 150 each year) throughout rural Maine to inform and inspire early aspirations. These are most often done in partnership with Mitchell Scholars currently in college and from that community.
2. Maine College Circle will emphasize celebration — celebration of the student, celebration of the school, and celebration of the community.
3. Maine College Circle (in partnership with the Mitchell Institute, Bowdoin College students, and other colleges) will continue to provide resources and information through the Maine Word About College newsletter, the Maine College Answers website, the Maine College Knowledge Bowl, the Early College Finder, and many other resources we produce.
4. Maine College Circle will continue work to establish a very real and actionable path to help early aspirers along a path through high school and college to a career they will be proud of.


5. Working in partnership with the Mitchell Institute and other Maine organizations and colleges, we will establish partnerships between college students (ambassadors) and individual rural Maine elementary schools. Schools will send their ambassadors “College Questions” each month. Ambassadors will answer those questions via live videoconference each month. Ambassadors will visit their elementary school at least once a year. And, Maine College Circle will provide financial support to enable the schools to make a reciprocal visit to their ambassador’s college campus. Additionally, ambassadors will serve as a resource to help students at Future of Maine schools with their research and writing for the annual Future of Maine College Aspirations Scholarship. The goal is to promote more, year-round conversation in the classroom about opportunities in education beyond high school, to help schools feel a closer connection to the world of education beyond high school, and to help these students have a friend and mentor to help them along a path toward a world of broader opportunities.
6. Maine College Circle will inform, inspire, and empower past Future of Maine Scholarship recipients, Mitchell Scholars, and other leading high school and college students to be information resources for middle and high school students in their communities. These leaders will be empowered with information so that they can provide middle and high school students with the information and advice that so often seems to be inadequate in rural Maine communities.
7. Maine College Circle will support leading Maine high school and college students to engage their community in a conversation about the opportunities and challenges for shaping a brighter future for their community.