Convening 3 in Cherryfield: What We Learned, and What We’re Counting On

On a cold morning in November, we met with our Aspirations Incubator grantees, including program managers and senior staff from their organizations. Maine Seacoast Mission hosted our gathering, including a sleepover at their community center for some of the participants, and we’re grateful for their hospitality.

This was the third convening of grantees we’ve held since 2017. Don Carpenter, our senior program officer, says, “What excited me was the general sense of commitment to our collective efforts that we’re all making toward loving young people growing up in Maine and helping to raise their aspirations. The power of relationships was on full display, and the programmatic ideas being introduced and discussed was really inspiring.”

Convenings are held twice a year, and they allow us to continue to develop a solid foundation of relationship and trust between all Aspirations Incubator partners, including time to share about challenges and successes. We talked about how team leaders can continue to support programming at the organizational level, discussed the details of program design, and helped program managers develop action plans around the Youth Programming Principles that they still need to develop in order to take their youth development models to scale.   

We also talked about developing a brand identity for the Aspirations Incubator that will help us to share stories and lessons from our work with audiences big and small. In that spirit, we asked our Aspirations Incubator grantees to think ahead to 2023, the moment in time when the first cohort of students is graduating from high school and heading off to the colleges and careers they’ve chosen. We asked them the following questions and they shared with us the following responses:   

What personal qualities will an Aspirations Incubator graduate possess?

Self esteem Self-awareness Happiness
Independence Connectedness A sense that they’re lucky
Empowerment Agency Holding and working toward goals
Resilience Interdependency Leadership
Hopefulness Positivity Empathy
Hard work Honesty Engagement
Caring Competency Generosity
Healthy risk-taking Resourcefulness Good health 
Well informed Able to manage conflict Inclusive

What strengths and abilities will an Aspirations Incubator graduate possess?

Ethic of service Open-mindedness Public speaking
High social and emotional IQ Able to think about the future Decisive
Curiosity Successful in their chosen field Able to mentor and accept mentoring
Aware of the needs of others Empathy Care for the environment
Sense of pride in where they’re from Holding and working toward goals Sense of belonging and ownership in their own lives
Interested in colleges or careers Outdoors and wilderness training Conflict resolution
Mindfulness Facilitation skills Able to accept feedback and criticism
Able to unplug Knowing themselves Good communication skills
Imagination Experience with people from other cultures Self-reflection
Expertise in the state of Maine Able to identify their own strengths Problem solving
Reflection Consensus building Comfortable talking to and working with adults
Able to understand diverse perspectives Comfortable outdoors Involved in the community 

We're looking forward to seeing everything the Aspirations Incubator programs accomplish this year, and to seeing everyone again at our next convening in May! 

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