United Way Announces Total Investment in Community to be Over $10 Million

(Portland and Kennebunk, ME) United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM) announced it will invest $10,305,458 into our community this year. 

UWSM awarded $3,985,149 to programs and innovative initiatives across Southern Maine. These grants reflect strategic investments in our community’s shared vision, Thrive2027, three 10-year goals for a measurably better community:  

  • Give kids a strong start; 
  • Ensure our neighbors thrive – not just survive; and 
  • Help people live longer, better lives.  

“Our community’s generosity inspires so much hope,” said Liz Cotter Schlax, President and CEO of United Way of Southern Maine. “These investments fund holistic solutions and innovative ideas to strengthen the education, financial stability, and health of our community, making a tremendous difference in the lives of our neighbors.” 

Included in the total are our Community Investment and Racial Equity Funds; member-directed investments through United Way’s giving circles, Brick & Beam Society and Women United; and United-Way led programming such as 211 Maine, CA$H Greater Portland, Biddeford Ready!, and the Greater Portland Workforce Initiative. 

“We are incredibly grateful for United Way’s support as we continue to see an uptick in outreach to 211 Maine,” said Nikki Williams, 211 Maine Program Manager. “Many of our community members are facing complex challenges and don’t know where to turn for help. United Way’s ongoing partnership helps ensure that we can keep this program operational around the clock here in Maine.” 

United Way relies on community volunteers to make funding decisions, evaluating requests and ensuring grants are distributed to make best use of donated funds and have the greatest impact on the community developed Thrive2027 Goals. 

“I was inspired by the many innovative approaches to creating positive, lasting change,” said Julie Chase Dean of Business and Community Partnerships, Southern Maine Community College, and Goal 2 Co-Chair. “I’m proud to play an active role in supporting these thoughtful, strategic investments that will help tackle complex, interconnected community issues.” 

In addition to grantmaking in programs and innovative initiatives, UWSM secured $3,015,843 to address immediate needs, particularly the lack of affordable housing, which continues to be a major community challenge. UWSM will administer two Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Humanitarian Relief funds totaling $2,855,843 to support people temporarily housed in hotels throughout Cumberland County due to COVID-19 and lack of shelter and housing space. Additionally, UWSM received $160,000 from MaineHousing to serve as the home of two hub coordinators, one for Cumberland County and one for the Midcoast region, designed to provide comprehensive regional solutions to address homelessness. 

Through support of EFSP and the HUBs, United Way is working to support people in immediate crisis while also working to make long-term systems change. 

Finally, UWSM will invest an additional $3,304,466 into the community through donor-directed contributions, policy work, community and volunteer engagement, evaluation and measurement, and programmatic leadership for Thrive2027.  

Through community input, nonprofit partnerships, and strategic funding, United Way is continuing to foster a stronger and healthier Southern Maine region for us all. This strategic approach helps our community’s dollars go further to help people thrive.  

Full investment portfolio can be found here. 

About United Way of Southern Maine 
United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM)’s mission is to improve people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. UWSM unites individuals and organizations around our community’s shared vision to improve education, financial stability, and health for every person in Southern Maine. With community partners, UWSM builds on strategies that are known to achieve the best results, and rigorously evaluates progress toward those goals. UWSM actively seeks to engage donors, advocates, and volunteers to create measurable, long-lasting community change. Learn more at 

Download Investment Portfolio.