PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Education Association says a University of Southern Maine faculty organization is receiving nearly $600,000 to help establish a social justice education campaign.

The National Education Association Center for Great Public Schools is making the award to the USM chapter of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine. The money is set to be used by a pair of professors to establish The Frances Perkins Initiative for Social Justice Education.

Frances Perkins was U.S. labor secretary in the 1930s and ’40s.

The Maine Education Association says the initiative will help USM faculty, staff and students in academic study of current events. It says the grant’s goals include increasing retention and graduation rates through social justice education. It also says the grant’s designed to help close racial achievement gaps.