ROCKLAND — The Worthington Scholarship Foundation, which provides college scholarships to low- and middle-income Maine students, has a new executive director.

Julie Bourgoin, a seasoned nonprofit leader, comes to the foundation from Nurturing Minds, a U.S.-based organization that improves access to high-quality education for poor and marginalized girls in Tanzania. She headed up their grant-writing efforts and also served as a board member.

“Providing a superb education to young people who may not otherwise be able to afford one has long been a passion of mine,” said Bourgoin, who has more than 25 years of development experience in education, health care, and social services. “Affording college can be difficult even in the best of times, but during the pandemic higher education has become even less accessible to many young people. I’m looking forward to expanding opportunities for many more aspiring Maine college students in the coming years.”

With Bourgoin’s guidance, WSF plans to increase its reach both geographically and in the number of scholarships awarded. Currently WSF partners with 59 high schools and 20 two- and four-year colleges in Maine. The goal of the Foundation is to continue to add high school partners and award $10 million in scholarships that will impact more than 700 students per year.

“Our vision is to become the premier scholarship provider in Maine, and with Julie at the helm, we will get there in the next several years,” said David Worthington, WFS’s founder and chairman of the board.

In addition to financial aid, WSF also provides mentorship and other services to ensure students not only can afford college, but also succeed once enrolled. In 2021, more than one-third of Worthington scholars were first-generation college students attending schools, including: the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy, Thomas College, Husson University, Bates College, Colby College and Bowdoin College.

For more information and to apply for the Worthington Scholarship visit worthingtonscholars.org.

The Worthington Scholarship exists through the support of Beverly and David Worthington, summer residents of Spruce Head. Beverly is a retired commercial pilot and David was the principal owner of TGS Geophysical Co., a worldwide seismic data acquisition and processing company. They settled in the Midcoast in 1990 because of a family connection in Camden and immediately immersed themselves in local nonprofit activities.

The first Worthington Scholarships were offered to Oceanside High School in Rockland, and by 2020 had expanded to most public high schools in Lincoln, Knox, Waldo, Hancock and Washington counties, with further expansion planned for the future. This growth caused the assembly of a small staff to assist Worthington Scholars, and, in 2017, Beverly formed the Worthington Scholarship Foundation as a Maine 501 (c)(3) Private Operating Foundation.

The foundation has matured into a position possibly unique in America; an evolving partnership between institutions, foundation staff, and college success staff has been designed to aid the scholars on their paths to graduation.