Their family has been connected to Brunswick since Jeff Jacobs went to Bowdoin College (’70). He’d grown up Downeast in Bucksport, Maine before he came to this area for college and then eventually settled here and started a family. Now that family is giving back to the Brunswick community by supporting innovative education grants. Seeking ways to continue the legacy of supporting opportunities for students to learn the skills they need to thrive as community members, the James and Betty Jacobs Family Charitable Trust decided to become the newest donor to the Brunswick Community Education Foundation (BCEF). BCEF has provided over $200,000 in grants to the Brunswick schools over the past five years that has enabled teachers to take on projects outside the regular school budget. The grants are given to all schools in the district, impacting students preK-12 with project ranging from art to physical education to cultural studies.

“When we started looking around and found BCEF, it seemed like just the right fit for us,” says Phil Jacobs, one of Jeff’s sons. Phil and his brother Rob and sister Hanna all graduated from Brunswick schools and are happy to support programs that help students here. When speaking about what the Trust’s gift to BCEF means to students currently in the schools, Phil remembers that, “None of these things really existed when I was there.” Now, he has a daughter at the high school and his brother Rob has a son in Kindergarten. “We really appreciate the impact these grants will have,” says Rob. “One aspect of BCEF that stood out to us was that it used non-traditional settings and programs to teach life skills and re-enforce what kids are learning in the classroom,” he adds.

The Jacobs family is working with the local community to continue the legacy defined by James and Betty Jacobs, founders of the Trust. Phil’s grandfather James Jacobs started the Longview lumber company in Bucksport along with his uncle, Donald Pinkham. It was after the war and people wanted to build homes. “The company was successful but my grandparents lived really simply,” says Phil. “So, over the years they saved what they earned. They supported local schools while they were alive and we are now continuing this through their trust.”

The Jacobs family has been based in Maine for generations and hopes to help young people develop the skills they need to stay here and contribute to the communities here. “When I went to build my house, my grandfather helped me,” says Phil. “Now, our goal is to give kids the tools they need to succeed. We want to support kids so that they can then support themselves.” The foundation has also helped other local organizations like Habitat for Humanity and United Way in an effort to help people who want to be part of Maine communities. That includes Bucksport and now Brunswick as well.

“BCEF is excited and grateful to receive this very generous gift from the James & Betty Jacobs Family Charitable Trust,” says board President Becky Wilkoff. “Their contribution will go a long way toward funding this year’s grants and supporting innovation and creativity in all of Brunswick’s public schools. We especially appreciate the Jacobs family’s commitment to supporting our local schools and community.”

With an all-volunteer board and grants based on community support, it makes a big difference in the grants that BCEF can offer to the schools to have a new donor on board. BCEF is currently accepting applications from teachers through January 21st on their new online portal ( Board members offer support for any teachers with questions or who would like help navigating the process.

“The more areas of interest and life skills students have when they finish school, the better,” says Phil. “BCEF is helping to develop programs in the community for kids to get involved in, and we’re happy to be a part of that.”

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