Our Work to Improve Education

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. It is essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage and health benefits and it is fundamental to a community’s economic prosperity: a well-educated workforce attracts world-class jobs.

High School graduation is the single most powerful predictor of whether a young person coming from generations of poverty will break the cycle. The ability of students to think, learn and communicate affects their likelihood of becoming productive adults and active citizens.

In order to graduate, it is important to build a strong foundation. Research shows that students’ readiness for college and career can be boosted with a focus on middle school activity. Even more critical is learning in elementary school and before school even starts.  74% of children who perform poorly in reading in third grade continue to do so into high school. And if a child is not school ready and enters first grade behind, he or she has to make up one year of normal growth and one year of catch-up growth in each of the first, second, and third grades to catch up by third grade.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of starting young and early childhood brain development, read our Education Report addressing School Readiness.

The Maine Facts

  • In 2008/09, one in six Cumberland County high school students did not graduate with his or her class
  • 21 students leave school on any given school day in Maine
  • 635 Greater Portland fourth graders (24%) did not meet or only partially met state reading standards in 2008-2009.
  • Only one in four family and center-based child care programs in Cumberland County were enrolled in Quality for ME, Maine’s early care and education quality rating system, as of December 2009. Of these, nearly two-thirds met only basic licensing standards

Our Strategies

We can’t focus on high school alone. High school dropouts are 12 years in the making, usually starting early childhood education behind schedule. Our model focuses on supportive communities, effective schools and strong families — strategies and approaches rooted in research. Tackling the education challenge requires re-framing education on a birth to 18 continuum.

How You Can Help

To reach our goal, we need your help. The strategies proven to work are those that connect communities to their schools: parent involvement; literacy volunteers in the classroom; mentors for disadvantaged students; business leaders engaged in early childhood advocacy. Volunteer to help.