Harold Alfond Foundation & FAME Announce Inaugural Alfond Leaders

STEM professionals throughout the state selected to receive student loan debt relief,
Applications now open for second round

The Harold Alfond Foundation and the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) are pleased to announce the first cycle of Alfond Leader awardees, who collectively will be awarded up to $685,000 in student loan debt relief. A second application cycle also is being launched, with applications due by November 15, 2017. To learn more about the program and apply: AlfondLeaders.org.

The Alfond Leaders program was originally launched in late February 2017. The competitive program provides student loan repayment assistance to people who live and work
in Maine in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-designated occupation at a Maine-based employer.

The Alfond Leaders Advisory Committee has been working since that launch to prepare for and review over 400 applications for the competitive loan repayment program. The selected Alfond Leaders may receive payments up to half of their outstanding student loan balance, not to exceed $60,000, as loan repayments on their outstanding student loans. The payments will be made in two installments, the first installment will be paid after a participant demonstrates five years of qualifying employment and state residency, and the second installment will be paid after the completion of an additional five years of qualifying employment and state residency. The Alfond Leaders Program is administered by FAME.

The selected awardees for the first cycle work in a variety of Maine-based organizations as scientists, physicians, engineers, information technology professionals, and entrepreneurs. They are: Katrina Christie, Yarmouth; Mick Daigle, Yarmouth; Kendra Emery, Rockport; Christopher Gauvin, Rumford; Jordan Hallett, Presque Isle, Brian Harris, Gray; Devan Houlihan, Portland; Paul Koroski, Portland; Zachary Leavitt, Buckfield; Amanda Lessard, Bowdoin; Alec Mackenzie, Freeport; Elisabeth Marnik, Franklin; Owen McCarthy, Gorham; Steven Munger, Mount Desert; Zachary Murphy, Waterville; Kristen Onos, Ellsworth; Cote Ward, Belmont; Ryan Whitt, Farmington; John Williams, Freeport; and Nicholas Workman, Rome.

Nicholas Workman, a quality engineer at New Balance in Skowhegan, was selected as one of the first Alfond Leader awardees. He has a degree in engineering and initially upon graduation went from college in Massachusetts to work at a firm in Connecticut. Within a year, he returned to his home state of Maine with his fiancée. “After ten months, we decided to move back for the quality of life,” he said, “We were making a financial turn backwards and would have to make some sacrifices, but we wanted a future in Maine.” He mentions how his student loan debt payments affect his family’s ability to own a home and travel, and says, “I was fortunate to find a job at New Balance and recently started a family. The Alfond Leaders program will help me be less hampered by student loan debt and help us to keep living and working in Maine.”

Alec Mackenzie studied engineering at Maine Maritime and received his MBA from Babson College. In 2007 he started and continues to operate his own mechanical engineering firm, Mackenzie Design, in Portland with two employees. “The Alfond Leaders program drastically shifts the calculus of our family’s planning. It eases the student loan debt we have and gives us confidence that we can make our lives here. It also frees us up to make further investments in human capital at Mackenzie Design. We can accelerate our growth and create more great STEM jobs in Maine.”

“We were delighted to receive such strong interest in our Student Debt Reduction Program for STEM workers,” said Greg Powell, Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation. “Our hats go off to the Advisory Committee and the team at FAME for selecting our first group of Alfond Leaders. Given the very competitive applicant pool, the selection process was no easy task. But with this new group of outstanding professionals, and those chosen in the future, the Foundation will be as pleased to help pay down their college debt as we are to have them here in Maine contributing to our economy.”

In addition to announcing the first awardees, the Harold Alfond Foundation and FAME are welcoming more applicants for the second round of Alfond Leaders. Applications are due by November 15, 2017, and the second group will be announced by the end of this calendar year.

Who is eligible?

  • Maine residents or persons who will become Maine residents upon being hired by a Maine-based business
  • A person employed or who will be employed by a Maine-based business in a designated STEM occupation
  • An applicant must have a higher education degree or certificate
  • An applicant must have outstanding student loan debt
  • Candidates must submit an application, including a written essay and resume, a statement of intent to live and work in Maine for ten years; an employment certification by a Maine-based employer; and disclosure of the amount, source, and terms of the student loan indebtedness.
  • Those selected to become Alfond Leaders will receive debt reduction payments made on their behalf paid in two disbursements after five and ten years, respectively, of qualifying employment.

About the Harold Alfond Foundation

The Harold Alfond Foundation furthers the legacy of Harold Alfond by investing in education, healthcare, youth development, and other philanthropic charitable causes that hold the promise of making enduring transformative contributions to the community and state of Maine. To learn more about the Harold Alfond Foundation, please visit www.haroldalfondfoundation.org.