Focus and action: Reporting back on priorities

In March, as the entire nation began to adapt to what it meant to work, study, and stay at home, the Island Institute began to take action.

In a March 25th Field Notes article in The Working Waterfront, Island Institute President Rob Snyder outlined our immediate response to the urgent needs of our communities as well as three priorities for minimizing potentially catastrophic community and economic disruptions to Maine’s coast:

  • Pass Maine’s $15 million broadband bond question in July.
  • Catalyze resilient community leaders.
  • Support small businesses, including influencing policy making and leveraging technology.

We delivered. We made—and continue to make—a very real difference on the islands, in our coastal communities, and throughout Maine. Below you will find several short, casual conversations between Rob Snyder and a few of our strategic leaders, addressing the accomplishments above and the challenges ahead.

Click, watch, and listen to the stories from our people on the ground—and in our communities—working to build resilient communities and mobilize courageous leaders.

These short videos help report back on our promises made in March and share our optimism for 2021.


Nick Battista, Senior Policy Officer, shares our excitement about winning the broadband bond vote in July and what’s next for broadband in Maine.

Climate Change

Despite the pandemic, the state’s leading experts created a Climate Action Plan for Maine. Suzanne MacDonald, Chief Community Development Officer, discusses how we turn climate plans into climate action at the Island Institute. Read the full plan here.

The Marine Economy

Fourth-generation lobsterman-turned-academic, Sam Belknap, Senior Community Development Officer, gives a brief overview of what we learned from this year’s fishing season and reasons to be optimistic for our marine-based economy.


Our work includes a mix of immediate priorities and long-term solutions, all oriented toward mobilizing leaders to confront change. Karen Burns, Chief Leadership Officer, talks about the new challenges facing community leaders.

How You Can Help

Chief Philanthropy and Marketing Officer Sue Bernier shares the two things you can do today to support our work to build resilient communities in Maine.

Tom Glenn Community Impact Fund

Funding to Diversify Maine’s Island and Coastal Economies


The Tom Glenn Fund Community Impact Fund is a community development catalyst fund that seeks to build a more diverse coastal economy through the investment of capital with planning grants as well as loans and equity support for small businesses. The Fund is made possible through a grant from The Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation; daughters Rand and Louisa; and wife, Lou, to honor Tom Glenn II and his lifelong commitment to Maine’s island and coastal communities.


Since 2012, we have invested a total of $715,621 in Maine’s island and coastal communities—with $523,985 in small business support deployed across 38 businesses and $191,636 in community infrastructure support deployed across 27 communities.

Who is Eligible

The Tom Glenn Community Impact Fund offers grant and loan support for Small Businesses and Community Infrastructure Planning. Business resilience grants and catalyst loans to support small business growth are available for all island and coastal small businesses, including artists and makers and marine small businesses. Grants and revolving loans for community infrastructure planning are available for broadband, energy, and sea level rise.

Learn more about the Tom Glenn Community Impact Fund here.

Help Maine's island and coastal communities thrive