Maine’s most prominent philanthropic organization has pledged a massive $500 million investment in the state’s economy.

Expanding and strengthening science and technology education in the Portland area is a focus of grants to eight colleges, universities and organizations, the foundation said Tuesday, Oct. 6, in a news release.

“Our state faces unprecedented challenges,” said Foundation Chairman Greg Powell in the release. “In the face of these challenges, we see a bright, prosperous future for the people of Maine. Today’s grants are to vital, high-performing Maine institutions that will help build that future.”

Grants of between $5 million and $240 million will be provided to the University of Maine System, The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, the University of New England, Thomas College, FocusMaine, Colby College, Waterville Creates! and The Jackson Laboratory.

Individual grant recipients are expected to make announcements with more information about their awards from the foundation in the coming weeks.