Maine College of Art & Design’s
E-Learning Initiative Slated to Receive Federal Funding

Dietlind Vander Schaaf teaching for MECA&D’s Continuing Studies Program, 2019

PORTLAND, ME November 17, 2021Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) today announced that its Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) request, entitled Broadening Our Reach: A Community E-Learning Initiative, supported by the offices of Senator Angus King, Jr. and Senator Susan Collins, has been included in the Federal Appropriations bill for 2022. 

If approved by Congress and President Biden, MECA&D will receive this federal funding award of $357,000 to further develop, market, and deliver online education for learners of all ages and modalities. This focus is one of five key priorities identified in the Maine College of Art & Design Strategic Plan: Envisioning Our Future 2027, a roadmap that defines how to attract, educate, and support future generations of creative thinkers.

“Cultural institutions enrich people’s lives and strengthen our communities. For nearly a century and a half, the Maine College of Art & Design has been a center for education in the arts, helping people to develop their skills and hone their techniques. By expanding the Maine College of Art & Design’s online course offerings, this funding will significantly increase access for students of all ages and backgrounds to receive world-class art instruction, from painting and sculpting to animation and graphic design.” U.S. Senator Susan Collins.


MECA&D’s Continuing Studies Program will develop customized platforms for a variety of adult and youth classes and seminars, including: documentary studies, such as film and podcasting; art education alternative pathways to teaching certification; courses in workforce skills; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion seminars, and more. 

"Many members of our community came together during the past few years to guide Maine College of Art & Design’s growth and development through the next decade. We explored how the College can best attract, educate, and support future generations of creative thinkers. Our work culminated in our strategic plan Envisioning Our Future 2027. Released this fall, the plan centered on the idea that the arts provide us with the hope, imagination, and optimism we all require to live our lives with purpose, passion, and humanity. 

"This funding, and the encouragement and the support of our civic leaders, will help Maine College of Art & Design to significantly broaden our reach to the great benefit of all of our communities.” MECA&D President Laura Freid


Moving forward, the College intends to expand its online cultural programming to include talks by an array of accomplished and nationally known artists through MECA&D’s Visiting Artist Series as well as access to rich programming from the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA&D. In the longer term, MECA&D envisions offering a variety of graduate-level stackable certificates, CEU credits for educators, and the further development of custom webinars for corporate and community partnerships. 

“For generations, Maine College of Art & Design has spurred creativity across our state, fostered the talent of young artists, and expanded the reach of Maine’s extraordinary art around the world. These funds, if passed by Congress, will enable the College to develop new online programs, expanding on their excellent work and reaching new communities with their world-class education. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the incredible importance of accessible digital resources, and these programs are exactly the kind of 21st century investments we need to strengthen our humanities. I’m glad MECA&D is one step closer to making this plan a reality.” U.S. Senator Angus King, Jr. 


The first phase of MECA&D’s E-Learning project was supported by two separate awards from the Davis Educational Foundation in Yarmouth, Maine, totaling $128,500 for implementation, instructional design, and initial faculty training. This newly announced Congressional funding will allow the College to hire additional staff, boost the infrastructure needs, and fully integrate the project with the campus.

MECA&D’s E-Learning proposal was one of 30 CDC projects funded through recommendations by the Maine Congressional Delegation and one of 10 higher education institutions to be funded. This funding award grew from dialogues MECA&D has been cultivating with local, state, and national leaders, who recognize and value the importance of the College’s contributions to art education, the creative workforce, and the economy for the state of Maine. 

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Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D, pronounced "Maine College of Art and Design”) has been activating students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change since its founding as Portland School of Art in 1882. Located in Portland's thriving Arts District, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a community-based Artists at Work program—making MECA&D the right-sized school in the right-sized city for every student who wants to make their mark and be seen. MECA&D offers BFA Majors and Minors, Graduate Programs, Continuing Studies, Pre-College, and includes the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Follow us at @mecaart.

*These grants were received from the Davis Educational Foundation, which was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. We are extremely grateful for this support and for the Davis Educational Foundation’s commitment to strengthening the undergraduate programs of public and private, regionally accredited, baccalaureate degree-granting colleges and universities in New England.



Jacqui Walpole
Associate Director of Marketing and Communication