Maine Policy Scholars

The Maine Policy Scholars Program was conceived by the late Peter Cox to engage students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process.

During the course of the academic year, one student from each of the state's seven campuses works with a faculty advisor and community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue that Maine faces.

The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, interviews - or all three. Each produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policymaker that outlines the problem, data available, and recommended policy solutions.

Topics can be local (energy conservation strategies for campus buildings, for example) or of statewide significance (strategies to keep Maine university graduates in state). In all cases, the topics are expected to be well-defined, subject to research, and of real concern to Maine or a segment of its people.

The scholars meet at least three times as a group with all the academic advisors, community mentors, and program leaders.They also regularly consult with their advisors on campus to focus the work, check progress, and for input on their research. Community mentors, who meet throughout the year with the students, are a link to the world off campus and serve as a “reality check” for the scholars’ work. 

One of Maine’s most important characteristics is the openness of its public policy process. Legislators, the governor, and local and state agency leaders are accessible and interested in practical solutions to real-life problems. The Maine Policy Scholars gives our students an opportunity to experience that process and at the same time make meaningful contributions to our future.

2017 Maine Policy Scholar Memos

The 2017 scholars, affiliations, and topics are listed below. Click on the topic to access the policy memo. Note that the views expressed in the policy memos are those of the scholars based on their research and understanding of the issue. They do not reflect the views of the Maine Community Foundation or of the academic institutions represented by the scholars.

 Past Policy Scholars' memos are available online.

Photo: The 2017 Maine Policy Scholars are, from left, Julianne McLaughlin (University of Maine at Farmington), Idella Thompson (University of Maine at Presque Isle), Shawn Cyr (University of Maine at Fort Kent), Emma-Marie Banks (University of Maine at Augusta), Alyssa de Silva (University of Maine at Machias), and Hannah Cole (University of Maine). Photo Zhen Zhang

The Maine Policy Scholars program is managed by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation. For more information, contact Laura Armstrong Reed, MaineCF’s Central Maine foundation officer, by e-mail at or by phone at (207) 564-3236.