550 Forest Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, ME 04101 info@uwsme.org 207-874-1000

2021-2022 Community Report

2021-2022 Community Report

Together, we are taking action to create a brighter future for all – one where everyone has access to the resources, tools, and services they need to thrive. Yet, as you have seen and felt, the pandemic deepened and magnified the equity gaps in the areas of education, financial stability, and health across Southern Maine.

Our needs are vast, and they are interconnected. We cannot ensure all kids have a strong start until families have access to child care and housing. And we cannot ensure people struggling with their mental health can address their daily needs without a strong system of support.

Addressing these complex, interconnected challenges require solutions made possible only by well-orchestrated collaboration and engagement, which has always been at the core of United Way’s mission and work.

But we cannot do it alone. This is an unprecedented moment that requires all of us to step up. The vital work we do requires partners and leaders like you to stand with us as we continue to build a community where everyone can thrive. 

This Report Covers:


Mental Health

Headlines continue to highlight a troubling reality: people are dying too young. Tragically, this trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide. The sobering statistics send an urgent message that we are losing too many neighbors, too early, to preventable conditions. Bottom line: we must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all people in Southern Maine live longer – better. 



United Way of Southern Maine helps people live longer by focusing on several factors that affect health and well-being, including mental health; suicide prevention; and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery solutions. Strategies range from school-based health clinics to peer support programs to work that reduces exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which have a profound impact on future learning, behavior, and overall well-being. This work and more advances Thrive2027 Goal 3.

HERE’S What YOUR Contribution to United Way Made Possible

Eliane’s Story: Mental Health Support in Schools

At the onset of the pandemic, Eliane, a former student at Portland High School, struggled with her anxiety and fell behind in school. Thanks to support from United Way of Southern Maine, Greater Portland Health’s (GPH) School-Based Health Center team worked collaboratively to help Eliane and establish mental health services. Your support has helped expand services across three Portland High Schools and Westbrook High School and helped increase access to these critical services for students.

Back to Top of Page

Across Southern Maine, there is a shortage of affordable housing. Many people were forced to leave work during the pandemic to care for family members or because they could no longer access or afford child care. Some households who lost a wage-earner found themselves at risk for eviction due to their changed financial circumstances. Other households find themselves spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs (rent, home equity loans, real estate taxes, insurance, homeowners’ association fees, and utilities). We call this “cost-burdened,” and it creates additional risks for families, as they may not be able to afford medicine, health care, healthy food, or save for retirement. Available, affordable housing that fits a range of household types and lifestyles is essential to attracting, retaining, and developing a diverse, productive workforce. 



United Way of Southern Maine is advancing pathways that provide people the opportunity to enter the workforce prepared for skilled employment and increased their salaries and savings. Our work disrupts disparities by focusing on youth development and education and workforce development. At the same time, we work to reduce the occurrence and duration of homelessness by strengthening community systems of support. This work and more advances Thrive2027 Goal 2.

HERE’S What YOUR Contribution to United Way Made Possible

87% of people completing a UW initiative to become CNAs earned their credentials

$1.2M helping to house asylum seekers in the City of Portland

Mangasa’s and Kawaya’s Story: Bridge to CDA and CNA

Funded in part by United Way of Southern Maine, Greater Portland Workforce Initiative’s (GPWI) goal is to help individuals prepare and connect to growing sectors of employment with family-sustaining wages. For Mangasa and Kawaya, two GPWI Bridge to CDA (Child Development Associate) and CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) program participants,GPWI provided opportunity, a career pathway, and financial stability while addressing the growing workforce shortage across Southern Maine.

Back to Top of Page

Child Care

The child care system was headed toward crisis even before the pandemic. Across Maine, the permanent closures of 187 childcare centers between April 2020 and September 2021, a lack of certified providers, and increased costs of child care operators have dramatically impacted families and shifted the work landscape. High-quality child care is essential for a vibrant, thriving community. It provides a powerful pathway to growing the human capital of a prosperous and sustainable community. It strengthens the workforce and local economy by allowing parents to work, go to school or receive training, and pay their bills. It also provides young children with experiences that support school readiness and nurtures their cognitive, social, and emotional growth. 



United Way of Southern Maine is closing the opportunity gap in early education by giving children opportunities in their early years that provide a foundation for success in school and life. Our approach focuses on increasing opportunities and resources to support children’s healthy development, addressing families’ basic needs, encouraging family engagement, and increasing literacy. We also strengthen systems of support by investing in quality early childhood centers, professional development, and entrepreneurship. This work advances Thrive2027 Goal 1.

HERE’S What YOUR Contribution to United Way Made Possible

Lindsey’s Story: Child Tax Credit Story

For many families, childcare is a growing expense. Lindsey and her husband, Jonathan, pay $18,000 in childcare costs for their two daughters. Even as a dual-income household, the family could not cover the amount without compromise. Read Lindsey’s Story.

Back to Top of Page




Thrive2027 Logo

United Way of Southern Maine mobilizes our community around Thrive2027, a set of three goals to ensure kids have a strong start, empower neighbors to thrive – not just survive, and help us all live longer.

Explore Thrive2027 data in this interactive Data Dashboard. The dashboard presents the most recently available related to each goal, allowing you to track our community’s progress and see data breakdowns by race or income level.

Thanks to the 7,369 donors, 517 volunteers, and dozens of advocates like you, our community has a solid foundation and stands strong to reach our community’s shared vision where everyone can thrive.


Take Action for a Thriving Southern Maine