Sagadahoc County’s Working Communities Challenge Application Selected for Design Phase

Sagadahoc County was recently named one of eight applicants to proceed to the design phase of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Communities Challenge (WCC), a community development initiative which aims to mobilize Maine residents to tackle tough statewide challenges. 

Jamie Dorr, founder of the Midcoast Community Alliance and Midcoast Youth Center, and Katie Joseph, Assistant Superintendent of RSU1, co-wrote the Sagadahoc County application. Their project envisions a web of educational, mentoring, training, and employment programs that build social and professional connections in youth and combat drug addiction, depression, and suicide.

“I feel like this is an opportunity to make changes that have always seemed so far out of reach,” said Dorr. “It can be so frustrating to navigate community services when you need support. If we can make a thriving system that brings all of these services together and engages children while they are still in school, it will make a profound impact on our youths’ future.”

For acceptance into the design phase, the project will receive a $25,000 grant which will allow Dorr, Joseph, and the project’s many community partners six months to learn more about the WCC model, build out their own internal structures, and define their strategies. After that, five applications will be chosen to receive three-year, $375,000 grants to implement their plans. 

According to their application, Sagadahoc County’s measurable, long-term goal is to decrease the rate of hopelessness among low-income youth and young adults by 15% in 10 years. This is based on data from the 2019 Maine Integrated Youth Heath Survey, which reported that 34% of youth felt sad or hopeless. 

“We are specifically targeting 18-to-24-year-olds residing in Sagadahoc County,” said Joseph. “These are youth who currently have rates of depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and hopelessness that are well about the State average.”
Dorr and Joseph will work closely with their Core Partners*, including the City of Bath, during the design phase and said they would learn from North Carolina’s 360Care Model to experiment with developing a critical shared community infrastructure to support the “whole person.”  

“Community partnership and collaboration is the foundation of this application,” said Marc Meyers, Bath Assistant City Manager. “Over the next six months, there will be opportunities to listen and learn as well as create and strengthen relationships to improve and support opportunities for youth and young people in our community.”

The WCC is backed by $2.7 million in contributions from local and national philanthropy, business contributions, federal grants, and $300,000 over three years from the State of Maine. In Maine, any town could be part of an application, but communities below 6,000 in population had to be part of a multi-town submission that covered at least than many residents. The applications also had to include a “priority community” (a community with high economic need and high opportunity to change policies and practices that are perpetuating the challenges they face.) Maine produced 22 applications in total. 

“It is an exciting opportunity for the City to be involved in the Working Communities Challenge. We look forward to the design process and taking steps toward addressing this critical need,” said Meyers.

*Sagadahoc County’s WCC Core Partners include: Midcoast Community Alliance, Midcoast Youth Center, Midcoast Maine Community Action Program, Mid Coast Hospital, RSU1 (including Jobs for Maine’s Graduates and Bath Tech), Mid Coast Hospital Center for Community Health & Wellness, United Way of Mid Coast Maine, City of Bath, Bill Haggett (former CEO of Bath Iron Works and Pineland Farms), and Morse High School.

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