Harold Alfond College Challenge “Casting Calls” Announced for Bangor and Portland – Free Professional Photographs and Help Offered to Receive the $500 Alfond Grant

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The Casting Call events are held to find new Maine baby faces to promote the Harold Alfond College Challenge and to assist families with applying for the $500 grant for higher education available to all Maine babies up to their first birthday.

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“Casting Calls have proven to be enjoyable experiences for babies and their families, we rarely hear a single cry,” said Elizabeth Vanderweide, program manager for the Harold Alfond College Challenge.

Over three hundred Maine babies under the age of one are expected to converge at Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC) in Bangor and at the University of Southern Maine in Portland for the upcoming “Future Faces of Maine” Casting Calls. The Casting Call events are held to find new Maine baby faces to promote the Harold Alfond College Challenge and to assist families with applying for the $500 grant for higher education available to all Maine babies up to their first birthday. Casting calls will be held at the Rangeley Hall on Sylvan Road at EMCC in Bangor from 10:00am – 2:00pm on Saturday, March 31 and at Woodbury Hall Campus Center on Bedford Ave. at USM in Portland from 10:00am – 2:00pm on Saturday, April 7.

“Casting Calls have proven to be enjoyable experiences for babies and their families, we rarely hear a single cry,” said Elizabeth Vanderweide, program manager for the Harold Alfond College Challenge. “Not only will families receive a free, professional photograph of their baby, but Casting Calls also provide an opportunity for families who wish to receive help to complete the NextGen® account application, which is required in order to receive the $500 Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant (Alfond Grant).”

The $500 Alfond Grant is available to all Maine babies when a NextGen College Investing Plan® (NextGen®) account is opened by their first birthday. At the casting calls, Maine babies under the age of one will receive a free professional photograph and may have their picture appear in future Harold Alfond College Challenge promotional materials. For interested families, Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) staff will be on hand to provide information and assistance in completing the application for the $500 grant. FAME is the administrator of NextGen.

Casting call events over the past two years have attracted about 3,000 Maine babies and assisted in the opening of nearly 2,000 NextGen accounts. Over 13,000 Maine babies have opened accounts and received the $500 Alfond Grant, with 25% of them also contributing their own funds. There are no income limits and no contributions are required to receive the $500 grant. Funds in the NextGen account may be used to pay for qualified higher-education expenses at any accredited post-secondary school, including four-year and two-year public and private colleges, certificate programs, trade schools, and even graduate schools.1

About the Alfond Scholarship Foundation
The Alfond Scholarship Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established specifically to sponsor and support the Harold Alfond College Challenge. The foundation is a partnership of organizations and individuals who truly embrace Mr. Alfond’s philosophy, and includes representatives from Educate Maine, FAME, the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, the Maine Community Foundation, and at-large members that include representatives from MaineGeneral Health and the Maine Hospital Association. To learn more about the Harold Alfond College Challenge, please visit http://www.500forbaby.org.
About the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME)
FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine people and businesses pursue educational and business opportunities. Established in 1983, FAME is committed to innovative, flexible financial solutions that address the needs of Maine individuals and companies in a changing economic landscape. FAME administers the Harold Alfond College Challenge and the NextGen College Investing Plan.® To learn more about FAME, please visit http://www.famemaine.com
1 To be eligible for the favorable tax treatment afforded to any earnings portion of withdrawals from Section 529 accounts, withdrawals must be for “qualified higher-education expenses,” as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

Please remember there's always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.

The Alfond Grant is awarded to a NextGen account. NextGen is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Before you invest in NextGen, request a NextGen Program Description and Participation Agreement (Program Description) from your Maine bank or financial advisor, or call FAME at 1-800-228-3734, and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in NextGen, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether your home state or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter of NextGen.

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Elizabeth Vanderweide
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