Our Story

The Island Institute works alongside Maine’s island and coastal leaders to catalyze community sustainability in the state’s 120 island and coastal communities and share what works among these diverse communities and beyond.

The Island Institute was founded in 1983 by Peter Ralston and Philip Conkling. Throughout its history, the organization has addressed a variety of needs in Maine’s island and coastal communities and now focuses on supporting them through three strategic priority areas:

Strengthening Community Economies through small business training and support, aquaculture business development, high-speed broadband access and digital literacy, access to affordable renewable energy, and helping island and coastal communities prepare for impacts from climate changes and sea level rise.

Enhancing Education & Leadership through professional development programs for municipal and educational leaders, scholarships and support for island and coastal students, and workforce development for future leading industries.

Delivering & Sharing Solutions by building capacity through our Island Fellowships, and sharing information and resources through our publications, online and digital content, community research (The Working Waterfront newspaper, Island Journal, Waypoints, What Works Solutions Library), and our conferences and events.

Today, under the leadership of president Rob Snyder, the Island Institute’s work remains rooted in Maine, but has expanded through partnerships with similar communities off the coast of the Carolinas, Alaska, Maryland, and elsewhere. With more than 150,000 year-round islanders in the United States, there is no shortage of interest in the Institute’s work or partners for its programming.

Our Mission

The Island Institute works to sustain Maine’s island and coastal communities, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further the sustainability of communities here and elsewhere.

Our Vision

We envision that Maine’s year-round island communities will thrive and lead as examples of sustainability.

Our Values

  • We respect the diversity of islanders’ perspectives, cultures, and heritage.
  • We celebrate island communities’ initiative and innovation, and see the islands as models for others.
  • We take an entrepreneurial approach to new opportunities.
  • We set the highest standards for our performance.

Strategic Plan

View the Island Institute's goals and program objectives.

Impact Dashboard

View our strategic impact goals for 2020/2025 and a coastal map of where we work.

Annual Report

View the Island Institute's program accomplishments and financial information.

Telling stories of island and coastal life