We are pleased to share our 2023 Impact Report with you. The stories in this report reflect deep partnerships with communities and islands all along the coast of Maine and beyond. We thank everyone who has made this work possible.

An Introduction from our Board Chair and President

In the wake of another remarkable year for Island Institute, I am delighted to share our achievements with you. I’m especially proud to do so in partnership with our new president, Kim Hamilton. ... Read More

The board unanimously welcomed Kim to Island Institute in April, and this report reflects what we all saw in Kim: a deep understanding of the trends shaping communities along the coast, a compelling vision for our shared future, and a commitment to community-informed development. In a world of rapid change and confusing signals, Island Institute remains a beacon of common-sense, forward-looking solutions. I encourage you to learn more about our work through this report and to deepen your own appreciation for the ingenuity and resilience that abounds in Maine and reverberates well beyond our coast. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for your partnership, your belief in our mission, and for fueling our work at a crucial time for Maine’s coastal communities.

When I stepped into the president’s role at Island Institute in April, I knew that Island Institute would be standing toe-to-toe with some of the biggest tectonic shifts shaping the coast of Maine. ... Read More

From global warming and changes to our fisheries to demographic forces and changes in our communities, I quickly learned that Island Institute was built for this especially challenging moment, with its deep roots in communities and bold aspirations for the future. Community development is a long game, which is why our commitment to Maine’s coastal and island communities spans decades—four decades, in fact. As you learn about our impact, I hope that you will come to the same conclusion that I have: because of Island Institute’s work, future generations—no matter where they live—will look to the Gulf of Maine for inspiration because we have taken great care to steward the bounty we have been given. Work like ours requires community courage, extraordinary foresight, and a whole lot of perseverance and listening. These are the tools of our trade, and I am so pleased to share the results of our work with you.

The Year at a Glance

Where We've Worked

Climate and Community

Marine Economy

Sustainable Communities


The Year in Numbers

Worked with 455 partner organizations and 1,491 community members.

Served 173 communities with projects, grants, and technical assistance.

Provided legislative testimony on 14 bills in the State Legislature.

Awarded $140,105 in scholarships to 58 students from island communities.

Generated $323,000 in income for 350 island and coastal artists through Archipelago product sales.

Provided $304,890 in grants to 78 small businesses and community organizations.

Celebrating 25 Years of Fellow Headline

As the leading fellowship program in Maine, Island Institute Fellows provide critical capacity for community-based projects. Over the past 25 years, we’ve placed 148 fellows in 29 coastal and island communities. Learn more about the Island Institute Fellows program.

We’ve provided over 473,900 hours of capacity to municipalities, school systems, and community organizations through our flagship program.


Fellow 2000-2002

While a fellow, Mike worked with the Vinalhaven school system. He stayed on the island for several years, married another fellow, raised a family, and became principal of the school. Today, he is the superintendent of the St. George Municipal School Unit, a job which he describes as the perfect intersection of his three passions: education, community, and policy. Mike recently competed for the 2023 Yass Prize, winning $500,000 for his school to put towards the development of the nation’s first Pre-K to 12th grade career and technical education program. It will include a makerspace with machinery for traditional trades like boatbuilding while integrating modern technology like 3-D printers. He currently serves on Island Institute’s board.


Current Fellow

A second-year fellow working on Mount Desert Island, Bri supports community-driven climate solution projects for A Climate to Thrive, a local organization with a goal of achieving energy independence on Mount Desert Island. She has spent much of her fellowship engaging with the town of Tremont as they face challenges related to climate change like rising sea levels and energy insecurity. Her work includes direct communication with community members—hosting listening sessions, gathering input from her neighbors, and elevating their voices.

Island Institute’s Community Development Officer Abby Roche meets with Vinalhaven community members to discuss sea level rise.

Center for Climate and Community

Building climate resilience through mitigation, adaptation, and hope

Climate change presents immense challenges to Maine communities, and we’re addressing these challenges head on. We’re taking our track record of successful climate change education, policy work, and research—along with an influx of state and federal funding for climate solutions—and working directly with communities to help build enduring climate resilience. Learn more about climate solutions.


As a regional partner to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Island Institute supports energy system planning and projects on islands and in remote communities with unreliable and expensive energy systems. We assist communities in making effective energy resilience decisions and have set the stage for access to clean, reliable energy for more than 36,000 people in 5 remote and rural communities.


As a key player in the State of Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership, we’re helping communities become more resilient to effects of climate change. By enrolling communities in the program, facilitating community discussions, connecting local climate action teams to resources, and strategizing funding opportunities, we strengthen community response and preparedness. After working with our team over the past year, Chebeague, Monhegan, Long Island, and Cranberry Isles all received funding from the State of Maine for local climate resilience projects.

With Island Institute’s help, Eastport acquired funding to plan a microgrid fueled by tidal power.

The Chebeague Climate Action team partnered with Island Institute to install a tidal gauge at the ferry dock.

We need visions of what Maine would look like with 100% renewables. We need to charge ahead with all the climate solutions we have—from regenerative farming to solar panels and electric boats.

Dr. Ayana Johnson at Island Institute’s Climate Symposium

Center for Marine Economy

Creating the diversified, climate-friendly marine economy of the future

Maine’s coastal communities revolve around a marine-based economy. Our vision for the future of that economy includes expanding the pathways for individual and family livelihoods. Through a growing variety of species and consumer markets, new approaches will bring much-needed stability in the face of growing challenges. By supporting income and employment diversification, protecting and preserving working waterfronts, and facilitating the transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient harvests and infrastructure, we are preparing communities for changes to come. Learn more about marine economy.


Unless protected by law, working waterfront access is always in danger of being lost. Island Institute worked with State Representative Morgan Rielly of Westbrook to dramatically expand opportunities to protect Maine’s diminishing working waterfronts. The resulting legislation allows land trusts to secure working waterfront easements, adding another pathway for preserving this critical fisheries resource. This victory adds to the Institute’s track record of successful partnerships with state legislators, as our staff have provided testimony on over 50 bills in the past 3 years.


This summer, we partnered with Islesboro’s Pendleton Yacht Yard to launch Take Charge, the State’s 1st all-electric workboat. Our goal is to build awareness for this exciting new innovation – while alleviating the risk and uncertainty that comes with early adoption of cutting-edge technology. Data collected through our sea trials are providing critical learning to production firms looking to perfect the efficiency, functionality and user experience of electric engines. This work is supported in part by the State of Maine and Maine Technology Institute.

Governor Mills signs into law a bill that creates a new tool for preserving critical waterfront access.

Islesboro students enrolled in a sustainability and environmentalism course test drive Take Charge.

I wasn’t sure I could transition my oyster farm to solar energy, but getting a grant from Island Institute and USDA made that dream come true for me…

Krista Tripp, owner of Aphrodite Oysters in South Thomaston and Spark! grant recipient

Center for Sustainable Communities

Fueling community-led innovation with capital, networks, and leadership

Island Institute builds the resilience of coastal and island communities by improving access to education and employment opportunities, providing key community capacity through our Island Institute Fellowship program, and supporting critical infrastructure—be it broadband, transportation, or leadership networks. Our coast is dotted with unique and isolated communities that are facing intractable challenges. By connecting these communities—and the individuals who live there—to capital, talent, and the wisdom of other communities, we help them grow stronger together. Learn more about sustainable communities.


To remain competitive and prosperous, rural communities need affordable and fast internet access. With broadband as a key programmatic initiative, Island Institute staff began working with communities on the Blue Hill peninsula in 2017. After countless hours of technical assistance, facilitation support, and $55,000 in planning grants, our team helped leverage over $10 million in public/private funding for the peninsula, resulting in 4,500 homes gaining access to high-speed internet service in May 2023.


We partnered with Maine State Ferry Service (MSFS) to survey more than 1,100 island residents and visitors to create a shared understanding of island transportation needs. By working directly with the communities most reliant on the service, we identified key challenges and recommended solutions for this critical year-round resource. The results of this work are informing how MSFS operates and which investments they make, including Maine’s first electric ferry.

Andy Berke, from National Telecommunications and Information Administration, greets community members on Isle au Haut in celebration of their broadband award.

Captains on the bridge of the Neal Burgess, an MSFS North Haven ferry.

The Island Institute staff has been instrumental in keeping our 15 year-round islands interconnected. These staff members have been invaluable to our pursuing our mission over 20 years.

Roger Berle, Founding Co-Chair of Maine Island Coalition, 2003-2023

Informing Critical Coastal Conversations

Archipelago Store and Gallery

Since 2000, Island Institute’s store and gallery, Archipelago, has showcased the work of more than 1,500 artists across the state. We have supported Maine’s creative economy by returning more than $5 million to these artists and makers.



On solid financial footing

Over 80% of Island Institute’s assets are represented by long-term investments, the result of decades of careful curation and asset management. In fiscal 2023, these invested assets increased by over 10% in value which, along with other vital philanthropic revenues, funded Island Institute’s programmatic and financial support.

These efforts have led to an organization with a strong balance sheet including no organizational debt and important financial reserves, such as board-designated assets and a contingency fund. As a result, Island Institute devoted 71% of its spending toward its programmatic work in fiscal 2023 (up from 69% in fiscal 2022). This solid financial footing will enable Island Institute to weather the ups and downs of global, regional, and local financial markets and continue providing critical support in response to the issues facing Maine communities for many years to come.

June 30, 2023 and 2022

REVENUES: $11,591,331 TOTAL

EXPENSES: $9,192,112 TOTAL

For more information, please contact Pete Rand, Chief Financial Officer, at prand@islandinstitute.org or by phone at (207) 209-4857.


Our members and donors are the lifeblood of the Institute

Every philanthropic dollar provides essential resources for our work in community. We simply would not exist without your support. Members, corporate donors, and grantmakers contribute more than dollars; you help define the sense of shared purpose that shapes our strategic goals in climate action, marine economy, and community.

With your support and thousands of others who love the coast of Maine, our mission-driven staff and community partners are making a difference. With your continued support, Island Institute will focus our work where climate and economic challenges converge in communities who depend on a healthy, thriving Gulf of Maine.

as directed by the donor

Sum of Gifts as Percentage of Total

For more information, please contact us at membership@islandinstitute.org or by phone at (207) 747-1180.

Island Institute Board of Trustees

  • Kristin Howard, Chair
  • Douglas Henderson, Vice Chair
  • Kate Vogt, Treasurer
  • Shey Conover, Secretary
  • Michael P. Boyd, Clerk
  • Sebastian Belle
  • David Cousens
  • Megan McGinnis Dayton
  • Michael Felton
  • Kimberly A. Hamilton, PhD (ex officio)
  • Nathan Johnson
  • Emily Lane
  • Bryan Lewis
  • Michael Sant
  • Michael Steinharter
  • Carol White
  • Donna Wiegle

Honorary Trustees:

  • Tom Glenn
  • Joe Higdon
  • Bobbie Sweet
  • John Bird