The Summit Project

 Building Nonprofits: It can be a Long Way to the Summit

“We will honor the fallen by challenging the living.”

People with a passion start nonprofits to pursue their dreams of helping, to share their vision with others and to sustain their efforts to do more good. But nonprofits are so much more than selfless work, willing volunteers and a website. Creating a nonprofit to attain those dreams is a daunting and bureaucratic experience that can sometimes dampen the passion and perseverance of even the most dedicated and mission-focused among us.

Major David J. Cote, USMC and a Maine native, has created The Summit Project, a participatory way for Maine people to honor those from Maine who have died in service to their country since Sept. 11, 2001. One in seven Mainers is a veteran of either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars – the third highest percentage in the country. An active-duty Marine, Major Cote now lives in Arlington, VA and is trying to create the organization needed to enable others to share his passion, educate about service and sacrifice, recruit volunteers and raise funds to support the program. His goal is to collect memorial stones from the families of fallen Maine heroes and have them engraved, then allow hikers to take them, as a living memorial, to the summit of Maine’s tallest peaks and back down.

Unity Foundation CEO, Larry Sterrs, “discovered” Major David Cote through a television news segment and immediately contacted him with an offer to help him overcome the significant challenges inherent in setting up a 501 (c) 3 Maine corporation. Unity has helped Major Cote address the financial, legal and board requirements needed to create a nonprofit, positioning him to launch fundraising and educational components. To learn more about Maine’s heroes, visit

The first memorial hike, to the summit of Mount Katahdin, will take place May 24, 2014. Unity Foundation is honored to have been able to contribute to Major Cote’s dream.

Dave Cote