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A representative from the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) visited Mount Desert Island Hospital last Friday to say thanks for supporting college education for babies born there. The celebration was to honor the birthday of the late Maine philanthropist Harold Alfond and to show appreciation to MDI Hospital for its role in educating parents about the Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant. Mila Tapan, an Outreach Representative with FAME presented a basket of treats to staff as a thank for their commitment to helping all eligible babies born at MDI Hospital receive the $500 grant.

The unprecedented college savings grant program awards a $500 grant to all Maine babies as long as a NextGen® account is opened by the baby’s first birthday. The Harold Alfond College Challenge Program is administered by FAME and is funded by the Alfond Scholarship Foundation.

“To date over 3,000 parents have shown their commitment to their child’s future by opening a NextGen College Investing Plan® account and receiving the $500 grant,” said Elizabeth Vanderweide, Harold Alfond College Challenge Program Manager. 

“We owe much of the program’s success to the voluntary support and assistance of our hospital partners who help by informing new parents about the program while moms are still in the hospital. Thanking our partners on what would have been Mr. Alfond’s 96th birthday is one way to keep us connected to the incredible gift he gave for the future of Maine. It is also a reminder that the baby’s first birthday is the date when the application for the grant must be completed.”

Mount Desert Island Hospital’s Obstetrics Department has been ahead of the rest of the state on two measures tracked by FAME. The first is based on the percentage of parents inquiring about the program, and at MDI Hospital parents of 83.3% of newborns submitted an inquiry compare to 59.8% for the state. The second measure is based on applications sent, and at MDI Hospital an application was sent for 17.6% babies born compared to 14.2% for the rest of the state.

“We make sure all new parents get the information about the program,” said OB nurse Mary Glass. “We try to get it into their hands while they’re doing other paperwork.”

“Thank you so much,” said Tappan as she handed homemade cookies to staff. “We couldn’t do it without you.”

To learn more about the Harold Alfond College Challenge, visit www.500forbaby.org

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