Today, I’m excited to announce The Pull Up Fund, a new social impact fund supporting programs and infrastructure for underserved communities around the country.
The first grant coming out of Pull Up is dedicated to racial justice in the state of Maine, and will support rapid expansion of the Grants for Change program established by Maine Initiatives. The Pull Up Fund will direct a total of $1 Million over four years (2020–2023) to support Grants for Change and its grantees. To quote my friends at Maine Initiatives, Grants for Change supports:
- Work led by and in service to Native American/Wabanaki and Black/African American communities in Maine;
- Work being done on institutional, structural, and systemic expressions of racial injustice and racial inequity; and
- Work being done to strengthen community building, community organizing, grassroots advocacy, and policy change as central strategies for advancing racial justice and equity.
This will be my third or fourth time personally working with Maine Initiatives on grants, and I can’t imagine a better partner locally for racial justice work. Especially now that I’m a Maine resident.
My parents, brother, and grandmother arrived in the USA in 1979 as Soviet Jewish refugees. I was born 8 years later … the American baby. I grew up in Maryland, right outside of Washington, DC. My parents and I used to ride 12+ hours from Maryland all the way up to Bar Harbor, Maine in my dad’s Toyota Previa each summer to go hiking.
That was pretty much all I knew of the state until I started spending time in Southern Maine as a young adult. Now I know a bit more. There are two things to note about me when it comes to priorities. First, I come from a family of refugees that risked everything to be in this country, and ultimately found a better life. As such, I believe in The American Dream, but I do not believe it exists for all refugees, or all citizens for that matter. Not even close.
Second, on top of spending my childhood in a multigenerational immigrant home, I also happened to have grown up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Prince George’s is an awesome community that I’m proud to have called home. The county is known, amongst other things, as a dynamic, majority-Black and multicultural community. The bulk of my giving the past couple years has gone to causes supporting students, families, small businesses, and immigrant communities in Prince George’s.
Even in a place like that, often known for Black excellence, situated right outside of the nation’s capital, there are still racial inequities. Now that I have moved to Maine, I’m not at all surprised to learn of the immense challenges that communities of color are facing here.
During such a pivotal and turbulent moment for our country, I decided to ramp up support for the people and communities that have made me feel the most welcome, comfortable, and at home in the state of Maine.
Anyways, I just wanted to introduce myself as a newcomer here in Vacationland. I have loved learning about all the beauty that the state of Maine has to offer. I’m not here on vacation, though.