The Propeller Project

A civic enterprise
dedicated to creating Maine’s next economy.


Propel What?


According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN):

“Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below-market to above-market rates, depending upon the circumstances.”

Impact investments can be in for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, or in funds designed to support specific communities, sectors, or social goals.

HCA’s approach is to take ideas that have worked elsewhere and adapt and innovate in ways that create sustainable jobs for Maine’s young people. Those ideas include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial instruments, from crowdsourcing to CDFIs to L3Cs to CDBGs (not to be confused with CBGB’s), that serve as launching pads for all manner of social enterprises, community-wide initiatives, local entrepreneurs, micro-businesses and non-profit organizations.
  • Social Impact Start-ups that provide real, not simulated, chances for students to innovate, create business plans, and get real work experience. Like what, you ask? that produce revenue for HCA while sharing and growing the educational model.
  • Replication strategies that document, share and develop templates for growing and sharing the successes and challenges.

Many of the ideas for HCA’s approach to Impact Investments have come through Slow Money Maine, which focuses on supporting local sustainable food systems. Based on the ideas that have come up from community leaders and HCA students in the three or so years since Harpswell Coastal Academy began planning, we’ve identified four focus areas.