OUT fundraising for Read the Rainbow

LBGTQ age-appropriate books delivered to a Vinalhaven school during the OUT Maine Read the Rainbow campaign. Contributed / OUT Maine

OUT Maine’s Executive Director Jeanne Dooley had a flash of inspiration this fall: What if school libraries had more inclusive books available to their students? OUT Maine, an organization that serves LGBTQ+ youth in Maine, already had recommended reading lists for families and educators on its website. The key was to get the books into school libraries.

The Read the Rainbow campaign began as OUT got donations to purchase the books. Applications from 59 school libraries across the state requested the curated, grade-level appropriate book sets, and, over the last month, OUT Maine sent book sets to 43 school libraries in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties.

Each set contains between 16 and 24 books that are a mix of fiction and nonfiction, including books that teach about important moments in LGBTQ+ history from the election of Harvey Milk to the Stonewall riots.

“We still have 79 requests for book sets waiting for funding to fill,” OUT staffer Ingalil Vickerman said. “These waiting list orders would cost $22,500 to distribute.”

Once these requests are addressed, OUT Maine plans to fundraise to distribute the books to interested Maine’s public libraries.

To help deliver LGBTQ+-inclusive books into Maine’s school libraries, go to outmaine.org/read-the-rainbow. A $400 donation sends a full set of books for a grade level; donors of $400 can choose the grade level sets they wish to support.

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Portland educator ‘Inspirational’ finalist

Betsy Paz-Gyimesi is a Spanish-speaking family and community engagement specialist with the Portland school district. Contributed / Portland Public Schools

Betsy Paz-Gyimesi, a Spanish-speaking family and community engagement specialist for Portland Schools, is among 11 Maine finalists for the national Recognizing Inspirational School Employees Award.

Paz-Gyimesi also won an additional honor: She is one of just two of those state finalists chosen to be state-level honorees representing Maine for consideration for a national RISE Award. The U.S. Department of Education will select one national honoree from among all the honorees representing each state and present that individual with an award in the spring.

A special ceremony was held Jan. 18 at East End Community School, where Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin informed Paz-Gyimesi she was one of the two state-level honorees and presented her with a certificate and flowers and thanked her for her service.

Dollars for scholars

Catholic students attending a Catholic high school in Maine are eligible to apply for a 2022 Lila Grace Amirault Scholarship. To view an application and scholarship requirements, visit portlanddiocese.org/sites/default/files/files/Amirault2022.pdf. The deadline to submit is Feb. 18.

High school seniors and college students studying journalism are invited to apply for funds from the New England Newspaper and Press Association, which awards up to 10 scholarships each year through the Journalism Education Foundation of New England. The deadline to apply is March 18.

To qualify students must be a resident of New England, be a senior in high school planning to attend college the following year or an undergraduate college student studying journalism or a related field, have a GPA of 3.0 or above, and demonstrate a serious interest in a career in journalism. For more information, contact [email protected]