Five community projects are vying for a $500 grand prize that will be awarded to one finalist at the League of Young Voters' Launch Maine party this Friday evening.
Thirty-one proposals were submitted for consideration, with focuses ranging from engaging youth in the arts to increasing alt-transport and recycling opportunities to educating young people about finance, sign language, or street harassment. More than 1700 online votes were cast, and five finalists emerged:
• ARTVAN A mobile program that will bring arts materials and inspiration to youth ages 2-18 in low-income areas of Bath, Biddeford, Brunswick, and Lewiston/Auburn.
• BLUNT YOUTH RADIO Focused on the Greater Portland area, the Blunt Youth Radio Project provides a forum for free and incarcerated high-school students to research, discuss, and produce live radio broadcasts (WMPG and streaming online) on topics as diverse as drug use, environmental greenwashing, and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
• 545 & CO. + RABBIT, RABBIT EXHIBITIONS An art collaborative in Bar Harbor that hopes to renovate an old space in town to showcase the work of local artists and musicians. They are starting by raising money and awareness through their monthly 'Rabbit, Rabbit' showcases in the Mount Desert Island area.
• TAKE ACTION PORTLAND (TAP) Bringing together young people and local organizations that need volunteers, with the goal of increasing community engagement and making volunteering easy.
• ZIP LINE PHYSICS A collaboration between Portland High School and Camp Ketcha (the non-profit outdoor education facility in Scarborough), this project will bring students together to design and implement a zip line, using real world applications to teach math and physics.
The Launch Maine contest, paid for by sponsors and individual donors, was the League's attempt to both spur and celebrate youth-led programs that enrich local communities. Mainers between 16 and 35 were encouraged to apply. While the jackpot isn't tremendous, the process was remarkable in that it empowered young people at all stages, including in the spearheading and writing of the proposals.
It also "marks an effort to expand statewide," says Nicola Wells, the League's state director. "This contest was open to young people across the state, and all were encouraged to apply. We now have an organizing hub in Lewiston/Auburn and are using social media to bring our tools and support to young people throughout Maine."
Vote for your favorite of the finalists (through ranked-choice voting, of course) and/or give an additional monetary donation at the League of Young Voters' Launch Maine party | Maine Ballroom Dance Studio, 614 Congress St, Portland | Friday, April 6 from 5-7 pm | youngvoter.org/me/launchme