The Mitchell Institute broke its gala fundraising record this month, raising $290,000 through corporate sponsorships and donations at a Sept. 16 dinner gala at Brick South at Thompson’s Point. It was the nonprofit’s first gala since 2019, with hundreds of business and community leaders joining 60 current Mitchell Scholars and 25 Mitchell Scholar alumni for a four-hour networking event.

The Mitchell Institute gives a $10,000 scholarship over four years to a graduating senior from each of the 135 public high schools in Maine each year. The institute also offers professional development opportunities throughout the year, including two annual retreats. Scholars are selected based on academic potential, community impact and financial need.

“This is our 27th year, and through this network of growing and loyal support, we have provided over $22 million of direct scholarships and wraparound supports to 4,400 Mitchell Scholars,” said board member Paul Suitter.

Suitter said his life was changed when he became the Mitchell Scholar from Southern Aroostook Community High School in 2005. He graduated from Bates College, spent three years with Teach for America, and graduated from Harvard Law School, where he served as chapter president of the American Constitution Society. Today, he’s an assistant attorney general for the state of Maine and, as of this month, has reinvested every dollar that the Mitchell Institute invested in him.

“I can think of nothing more emblematic of the spirit of Maine people than this organization,” Suitter said. “Never could have I have imagined for myself a future that would involve college, pursuing and earning an advanced degree, and having the opportunity to help other first-generation college students aim higher and find their paths.”

Leading sponsors included Barbara Atkins, Back Bay Tower, Abbott, KeyBank, TD Bank, Wex, Norway Savings Bank and Central Maine Power.

“The Mitchell Institute is important,” said Joe Purrington, president and chief executive officer of CMP. “Think about the state of Maine and how we need to retain smart young people for our workforce. Once they get invested here, it’s hard to leave a wonderful state.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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