The Portland Public Schools’ Gerald E. Talbot Community School and Portland Adult Education are among the recipients of more than $10 million in grants that United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM) is awarding this year to a variety of programs and innovative initiatives across Southern Maine.
Talbot, one of the district’s most diverse schools, has been granted $80,000 for academic and social supports for students and families. Portland Adult Education (PAE) has been awarded $87,651 to help more students attain their high school diplomas and go on to college. PAE also will receive $40,115 for the Street Academy, a program that works to ensure homeless youth in Maine have the opportunity to thrive, grow and become productive community members through education and workforce training.
In a recent announcement, UWSM said the grants reflect strategic investments in Thrive2027, a shared community vision that centers on three ten-year goals for a measurably better community: Giving students a strong start so they can succeed in school; ensuring all community members thrive, not just survive; and helping people live longer, better lives.
“We are proud and grateful to collaborate with leaders and partners like The Portland Public Schools who are committed to giving kids a strong start,” said Liz Cotter Schlax, President and CEO of United Way of Southern Maine. “Through the generous support of donors, we are able to invest in efforts like this to provide academic and social supports for students and families, which sets our children on a trajectory for future success and wellbeing.”
“The Portland Public Schools is grateful to United Way of Southern Maine for these resources, which will help PPS students and families succeed and prosper,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana, who also is co-chair of the Thrive2027 Council. “This is just the latest example of the way this organization does so much for our students and families. Previous United Way funding to PPS has supported our outdoor education program; helped administer school vaccine clinics; seeded a mobile maker space; supported Talbot Community School in its efforts to be a true community school; and contributed to the Foundation for Portland Public Schools’ Families in Crisis Fund. Thank you, United Way!”
At Talbot, the funding will be used for implementing the strategies of the community school model as a way to organize, coordinate and promote the assets of the entire community and provide academic enrichment services and after-school programming. Talbot will be able to continue to provide such after-school programming as choir, tutoring, drama, yoga and creative movement, and cooking classes for students throughout the year. Through these programs, students are able to engage in a variety of activities that support their academic, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing in a safe environment, supported by positive adult and peer relationships.
Talbot Principal Ann Hanna said, “We believe in the power of collective efficacy, and know that we are stronger together. By pooling our knowledge, skills, and resources, we are confident that we can generate creative ways to engage students and families in a variety of ways that strengthen the Riverton community. We appreciate the support of United Way in making this possible for our students.”
“At Portland Adult Education, the funding will support a diverse group of teenagers and young adults experiencing homelessness and those seeking high school credentials, either to increase their job prospects or to pursue post-secondary education,” said PAE Executive Director Abbie Yamamoto. “We are grateful for United Way’s continued strong support.”
The mission of United Way of Southern Maine is to improve people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. UWSM unites individuals and organizations around our community’s shared vision to improve education, financial stability, and health for every person in Southern Maine. With community partners, UWSM builds on strategies that are known to achieve the best results, and rigorously evaluates progress toward those goals. UWSM actively seeks to engage donors, advocates, and volunteers to create measurable, long-lasting community change. Learn more at uwsme.org.
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.