BATH, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills along with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston announced Thursday the winning six teams selected to receive $375,000 each in grant funding.
The funds are to be used over the course of three years in an effort to strengthen the state's workforce in rural areas and small cities. All 16 Maine counties were represented in the 22 applications received from the Maine Working Communities Challenge teams, according to a news release issued by Mills' office.
The teams selected, according to the release, are listed below:
- Greater Bangor: To improve economic equality by engaging diverse voices and changing systems around workforce, education, entrepreneurial development, and community support. The team is particularly focused on the trades, food businesses, and individual entrepreneurship.
- Katahdin Region: To build a thriving outdoor economy that delivers lasting prosperity for residents and creates career paths that help attract and retain younger workers.
- Lewiston and Auburn: To build, support, enhance, and sustain a culture of opportunity, equity, and inclusion. This work will address wealth gaps, catalyze economic growth, and increase opportunity among the marginalized communities of Lewiston Auburn, especially Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and U.S.-born African-Americans.
- Maine Highlands: To understand how persistent and growing poverty impacts the region, and to develop collaborative and inclusive strategies so everyone in the team’s communities can thrive.
- Washington County and the Passamaquoddy Tribe are working to invest in young people and parents to expand the number of living wage careers and reduce rates of child poverty in the county and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
- Sagadahoc County: To create and strengthen interconnection between institutions and systems that serve local youth.
These grants come from federal and state funding, philanthropies, and the private sector all part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's Maine Working Communities Challenge.
"This grant is allowing us to look at why are these things happening and how can we create real sustainable systems change that create a thriving youth community," Jamie Dorr, spokesperson for the Sagadahoc County team said.
Dorr is also the executive director of the Midcoast Youth Center and Skatepark.
The center works to provide youth ages 10 to 24 with anything they might need from mental health support and resources to food insecurity.
Dorr told NEWS CENTER Maine that mental health support is crucial in Sagadahoc County.
"When we're looking at the issues our youth are facing, more than half of them feel like they don't matter," she said. "They're disengaged. They're struggling to find success."
"The Sagadahoc County team is working to create educational, mentoring, training, and employment programs to combat drug addiction, depression, and suicide," Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a news conference.
Peter Nalli with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said his team won't tell the organizations how to spend the money, as long as it is used to help better their communities.
"This is really about supporting teams to say, 'Who are folks in our community who have been marginalized who may be aware of some programs or some other ways to enter into good jobs but not all of them?'" Nalli said.