A Sagadahoc County team of community partners was selected by Gov. Janet Mills and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to receive a $375,000 Maine Working Communities Challenge grant.
The Working Communities Challenge is a three-year grant initiative supported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the State of Maine, national and local philanthropy, and private sector employers that aims to strengthen Maine’s rural towns.
“The Challenge is bringing together the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Maine State government, private sector businesses, and community-based organizations to tackle the toughest issues our rural communities face and to strengthen them for years to come,” Mills said in a news conference to announce selected teams on March 3. “I am proud to support this initiative through my Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, thank everyone for their collaborative work, and look forward to seeing the excellent work accomplished as a result of these grants.”
The Sagadahoc team spokesperson, Jamie Dorr, executive director of Midcoast Youth Center, says the team plans to focus on reducing the rate of youth hopelessness by 15% over the next 10 years by creating a comprehensive web of support that includes education, mentoring, training, jobs, and healthcare.
“Our goal is for one call for help to unlock, and set in motion, a wide range of support systems and removes the numerous barriers often faced by families with low-to-moderate incomes, families of color, and members of our LGBTQ communities,” Dorr said.
“Our work has been targeted to the City of Bath, as the Sagadahoc County seat, with the aim of our initiative spreading out and connecting all areas of our county,” Dorr said.
The Sagadahoc team identified a disengaged youth and young adult community, struggling to find success in school or in the workplace, with high rates of depression and anxiety, substance use, and involvement in the juvenile justice system. In 10 years, it hopes Sagadahoc County youth will be thriving, well-equipped, and eager to enter the workforce, resulting in a flourishing local economy and a healthy community.
Members of the Sagadahoc team include Claire Berkowitz, president and CEO of Midcoast Maine Community Action; Barbara Reinersten, executive director of United Way of Mid Coast Maine; Bill Haggett, retired CEO of Bath Iron Works; Marc Meyers, Bath city manager, and Aaron Park, Bath City Council Chair; Dr. Deb Hagler, a leading pediatrician in Maine; Katie Joseph, Regional School Unit 1 assistant superintendent; Devon Gallice, Morse High School assistant principal; Julie Kenny, director of Bath Tech, and Allen Lampert, director of Merrymeeting Adult Education, along with youth and young adults.
Six Maine Working Communities Challenge teams received three-year, $375,000 grants to begin implementing proposals that address local economic problems, including poverty and lack of work opportunity.
All 16 Maine counties were represented in the 22 applications the challenge received from teams hoping to enter its design phase. A jury made up of a subset of the Maine Working Communities Challenge’s local steering committee selected eight teams to enter the design phase, and the six teams are the final implementation grant awardees.
The Maine Working Communities Challenge is under the umbrella of the Working Places initiative at the Boston Fed. Working Places focuses on improving life for residents in New England towns, regions, and its smaller post-industrial cities. Its model unites people from various community sectors around a common vision for change.
For more information, email Jamie@midcoastyouth.org.