The New Year will bring a new program for Aroostook Aspirations Initiative.  Thanks to a generous award from The Next Generation Foundation, Aroostook Aspirations will start work immediately on an Aroostook Hub for Internships.

The program will work with small business, post secondary institutions, and local school districts to help the internship culture continue to grow and develop in Aroostook County.  A consistent platform for AAI, the funding allows the program to carry out a plan for Internships that’s formed over the last year.  Sandy Gauvin, President and Co-Founder shared her excited about the award, “We are so grateful to NextGen for their support in helping develop an internship program here in The County. Since finding out what a person wants to do it life is not always a straight line, internships help young people find out what they like and what they don’t like.  It also helps them begin networking and create professional relationships and is an effective job-search method. For employers who are looking for the best college-educated, entry-level employees, an internship program is the best way for them to build a pipeline of candidates in a very competitive market.  According to, “The market is so competitive, that 51% of employers are now focusing on relevant internship experience to find the best fit for their companies. Eighty-one percent of employers have found that new hires with relevant internship experience are better prepared than those without internships. “

The Next Generation Foundation didn’t stop with the Internship Program. They also invested in Aroostook Aspirations Initiative’s endowment, allowing Aroostook Aspirations to help more County kids as they begin and move through postsecondary education in any one of the four institutions in Aroostook. According to April Flagg, the executive director of AAI, “The investments from The Next Generation Foundation are encouraging for so many reasons.  We are among the youngest organizations to receive funding, we received one of the largest gifts in Aroostook County, and they chose a program especially close to the hearts of our Founders, Ray and Sandy Gauvin. We are eager to begin our planning, work with businesses, and cooperate with our postsecondary partners. One of the best features of this program is that it will impact the entire Aroostook region. When we applied for this grant, we focused on programs that would benefit the whole of Aroostook, not just one or two segments of the population.”

Internship programs are picking up steam all over the Country.  Well planned and coordinated programs allow students to get real life experiences in areas of interest while building their resumes for the future.  It’s also a boost for the business community.  Internship programs can allow a business to train a future employee in several departments, assuring the best fit if the arrangement is a success.  Interns are often eager to put what they’ve learned in classrooms to work and are a great resource for a small business especially.

Founded in 2000, The Next Generation Foundation invests in programs that   improve health, education, and societal support for the most vulnerable populations of Maine. Until recently, the Foundation awarded small grants to nursing homes, community organizations, health support organizations, schools, hospice programs, and social change organizations.  In 2013, the Foundation launched a large grants program in early 2014. The Foundation is especially focused on children, the elderly, displaced workers, programs in basic human needs, education and programs that enhance human health, social equality or Maine's economy and workforce.  With an initial application pool of 726 in the spring, the Foundation visited 115 grant hopefuls in the fall and awarded 79 organizations with funds throughout the state f Maine.

Ray and Sandy Gauvin founded Aroostook Aspirations Initiative in April 2013 after the success of their first Scholarship program, The Gauvin County Scholarship Fund.  Past Scholars boast a degree attainment of over 95%, and many are currently living and raising families right here in Aroostook.  Aroostook Aspirations Initiative expanded the area of focus for the initial scholarship program to include all 16 high schools in Aroostook County.  In May of 2014, the program awarded the prestigious title of Gauvin Scholar to one senior in every high school.  These students, all students in a local college or university, attended a summer announcement, an academic and social summer retreat, a celebratory gala, and just recently participated in Heidi’s Hope, a community service Aroostook County event in mid October.  Aroostook Aspirations’ mission is to help more Aroostook students experience success in the post secondary world, and as a result help boost the economy in Northern Maine.  The internship program will be one more thing AAI can offer Aroostook students, and helps the program accomplish both focuses of their mission. With a basic premise that education is the great equalizer, and thanks to the support of many local and state contributors, AAI is on track to offer more than 16 Gauvin Scholars in May 2015.

If you would like to learn more about the program, make a donation, or become a volunteer, please contact the Presque Isle office at 760-0558 or visit them online at  Aroostook Aspirations also has an active and engaging social media platform, including weekly segments on Education in the County on WAGM-TV.  Fans can find AAI on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their channel on YouTube all at AAI/GauvinFund.