It’s my goal that children start school ready to learn, and graduate from college ready and able to succeed here in Maine.
Early childhood was the heart of my economic Summit held in November. More than 200 Maine business and community leaders came together to understand the positive economic returns from early childhood investments.
I will continue to work with those Mainers to transform the Children’s Cabinet Task Force on Early Childhood into a Children’s Growth Council.
We can propel the powerful momentum of the Summit into our communities.
Through the power of community, we can create a legacy for our children.
Not long ago, Maine lost one of our most generous and inspiring leaders – speaking of children – Harold Alfond, the man who built Dexter Shoe.
It’s impossible to estimate Harold’s impact on Maine. He has touched so many lives and so many communities with his leadership and his philanthropy.
Harold challenged us all to do more, to build partnerships and to overcome hurdles.
Harold didn’t go to college, but he recognized early on that the days of making a good living with just a high school diploma were disappearing.
But Harold wasn’t blind to life’s hard realities. For some families, the promise of college is financially out of reach.
With the Alfond College Challenge that he established, the dream is a little closer.
The Challenge provides a $500 dollar education grant to every child born in Maine that will help them start a college savings account.
It began last week in Augusta and will expand statewide in 2009. And no, you don’t have to name your first child Harold.
Working through the Finance Authority of Maine and in cooperation with Maine’s hospitals, families in this State will have been given a head start on higher education.
In his book, Harold wrote that he hoped to retire 10 years after he passed away. He was serious and Maine will be a much better place because of it.
Harold’s son, Bill Alfond, and his wife, is in the gallery tonight. Please stand and be recognized by the Chamber.