Olympia Snowe Women's Leadership Institute

Category: Youth & Community Development
Year of Last Grant Award:2016

The Harold Alfond Foundation was delighted to support the Olympia Snowe Women‘s Leadership Institute as it built-out its programming for long-term, sustainable delivery in Maine schools. Specifically, the Foundation‘s funding has enabled the Institute to serve 90 high school girls annually in Kennebec, Somerset, and Piscataquis Counties. Through the Institute’s programming, these girls gain the skills and confidence needed to make their voices heard as the leaders of tomorrow. In this endeavor, the Foundation is honored to support the work of Senator Snowe, whose decades of public service have been a tremendous benefit to our state and country.

More information as provided by our partner:

The mission of the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute (Institute) is to raise the confidence and aspirations of high school girls by helping them develop the skills required to be leaders in their lives, families, careers, and communities.

The Harold Alfond® Foundation (Foundation) contributed a $1.4 million 1:1 matching grant to support the Institute and “Olympia’s Leaders,” as participants are known, from Kennebec, Piscataquis, and Somerset Counties.

The Institute serves 540 young women at 36 partner schools across all 16 Maine counties. They are supported by more than 200 women advisors and a network of business and community leaders around the state—who, together, deliver more than 9,600 annual hours of mentoring and meaningful connections.

As of 2020, the Institute has welcomed 127 Olympia’s Leaders from central Maine schools supported by the Foundation:  Cony, Lawrence, Penquis Valley, Piscataquis, Skowhegan Area, and Winslow High Schools.

41 of those participants have completed the three-year progression of “My Values” (10th grade), “My Voice” (11th grade), and “My Vision” (12th grade); matriculated to post-secondary education, training, or careers; and remain engaged as alumnae.

Nearly all Class of 2019 Olympia’s Leaders reported that the Institute made a difference in its key outcomes:  98% had increased self-knowledge and developed a stronger network; 96% had increased leadership abilities; 96% were more willing to take action; 93% were more confident, better appreciated difference, refined their communication skills, and were able to mentor others; and 89% built additional new skills.

Each year, the Institute not only raises its operating funds but also makes a commitment to see a rising class of Olympia’s Leaders through the three-year program. Ensuring financing and long-term sustainability is of the utmost importance in order to continually deliver on that promise. The Foundation’s early and substantial gift has significantly contributed to the Institute’s success.