Graduation Celebration for AIP Partners

In late August, the Lerner Foundation helped honor eight participants who graduated from the Trekkers Training Institute for Youth Development’s first summer immersion training experience.  The graduates are staff members from the eight Maine organizations that were selected in early 2017 to participate in the Foundation’s Aspirations Incubator Program (AIP), a mentoring-based initiative aimed at raising and sustaining the aspirations of middle school and high school students in rural Maine communities and small cities. A celebration to honor each participant’s dedication and commitment to the training experience was held on August 24th at the East Wind Inn in Tenants Harbor.  The graduates were joined at the celebration by members of their families, as well as other stakeholders from their host organizations.


Aspirations Incubator Program staff and Trekkers Training Institute for Youth Development staff and supporters celebrate the end of the summer immersion training experience. Photo Credit: Stu Rich.

Aspirations Incubator Program partner organizations are tasked with designing and implementing new youth program models that encourage long-term engagement with students in their communities throughout the course of their adolescence, more specifically in 7th through 12th grades.   To set the AIP partners up for success, all eight organizations selected a newly hired staff person to participate in a three-month summer immersion training hosted in Thomaston, ME at the Trekkers Training Institute for Youth Development (TTIYD).  During the 12-week training experience, the participants were introduced to the Trekkers’ 10 Youth Programming Principles, which have been the foundation behind the highly effective, award-winning Trekkers model over the past 24 years. This approach also incorporates the Clover Youth Development Model and tools developed by the PEAR Institute at Harvard University.  The Lerner Foundation believes that the program principles developed by Trekkers, and supported by PEAR, comprise a youth program approach that can be adapted in other rural Maine communities to achieve similarly positive outcomes. 

Each week during the summer immersion training, TTIYD staff introduced the group to one of the 10 Programming Principles and then provided opportunities to experience and witness that principle in practice at Trekkers.  At the end of the summer, each of the eight partners took the knowledge gained from the TTIYD and created a newly designed program model, informed by the Institute, but adapted to each of their own particular missions.  These new youth development models will be implemented in their communities during the 2017-18 school year with the selection of the first cohort of 7th grade participants, and will be fully executed by 2023 when that student cohort completes 12th grade.  A new cohort of 7th grade students will be added each year to build out the program.         

Over the next six years, the Lerner Foundation’s financial support will continue to build organizational capacity and provide professional development for program staff, consulting support for program implementation, assistance with comprehensive program evaluation, and opportunities for peer learning.  These activities will continue through the end of 2023, at which point the outcomes of the program will be shared broadly within the statewide philanthropic and education communities. 

Here are the names of the participants who took part in the summer training experience, and the partner organizations that they each represent – we are looking forward to working closely with this great group of youth program professionals as they implement their programs in the coming years! 

Austin Muir - Chewonki

William Worthley - Community Bicycle Center

Megan Taft - Kieve-Wavus Education

Jessica Dumont - Old Town-Orono YMCA/RSU #34 

Michaela Stone - Seeds of Independence

Briana West - The EdGE program of Maine Seacoast Mission

Stephen Colby - The Game Loft 

Lyndsey Smith - University of Maine 4-H Center at Bryant Pond

The summer immersion was the inaugural training experience offered by the Trekkers Training Institute for Youth Development.  The staff at TTIYD is in the process of developing future training opportunities for any youth development professionals who are interested in learning about Trekkers’ 10 Principles of Youth Development.  Additional training opportunities will be available starting in 2018. For more information about the Trekkers Institute, please contact Meredith Lynt at TTIYD: For more information about the Aspirations Incubator Program and our partner organizations, please contact Don Carpenter,


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