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Portland Empowered, FPPS, PPS Partner

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Portland Empowered, FPPS, PPS Partner
Posted on 02/26/2021
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Portland Empowered, the Portland Public Schools (PPS), and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) are thrilled to announce their new partnership designed to strengthen community engagement in the Portland Public Schools.

Portland Empowered started in 2012 with a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to amplify the voices of students and parents in the Portland Public Schools and bring in broader representation from the community. The goal was to lift the voices of historically underrepresented stakeholders. In 2014, the project moved to the  Youth and Community Engagement team at the University of Southern Maine's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy. Starting with the premise that students and parents are experts on what they need to be successful in education, they created a cadre of Youth Engagement Partners and Parent Engagement Partners to engage with policy and practice within the Portland Public Schools.

“The Cutler Institute is proud to have provided Portland Empowered the support it needed to establish itself as a voice for underrepresented youth and their families on local education issues in the Greater Portland area,” said Kris Sahonchik, the Cutler Institute Director.  Sahonchik added, “We look forward to partnering with the Portland Empowered staff and FPPS on issues of common interest in the near future.”

Pious Ali, the Director of Portland Empowered, shared: “We are grateful for the support we have had from the Cutler Institute, where we have been housed the past seven years, and excited about the work ahead in collaboration with our closest partners, the Portland Public Schools.”

Throughout their history, Portland Empowered has worked closely with PPS students, families and staff as an external partner. The new partnership means that Portland Empowered staff will move their offices to the Portland Public Schools’ Central Office, beginning on March 1st.  The Foundation for Portland Public Schools will serve as their fiscal sponsor.  Though Portland Empowered will have a new home within FPPS, they will still serve as an independent voice and advocate for parents, students, and partners.

“Portland Empowered has been a key partner in the Portland Public Schools’ efforts to center equity in our policy-making work as part of our Portland Promise,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “We have a strong alignment of values, and this partnership allows us to deepen that, leverage resources and create synergy.” 

About Portland Empowered
Portland Empowered champions student and parent voice with a specific focus on engaging those who have historically been underrepresented. Their work strives to ensure that student and parent voices are reflected in policy and practice within the Portland Public Schools.

About the Portland Public Schools
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 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 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school meals.

About the Foundation for Portland Public Schools                                                                                 
The Foundation for Portland Public Schools is an independent, nonprofit organization that is institutionally aligned with the Portland Public Schools. FPPS works to address unmet needs of the school district and to provide opportunities for educational innovation. The vision of FPPS is to strengthen schools through community investment.