White House Recognizes Washington County Program’s Innovative Strategy to Fight Rural Poverty


Elizabeth Pope

John T. Gorman Foundation,



Charley Martin-Berry  

Community Caring Collaborative,


September 25, 2015

 White House Recognizes Washington County Program’s Innovative Strategy to Fight Rural Poverty

President’s Rural Council joins John T. Gorman Foundation in supporting Community Caring Collaborative’s initiative, which is designed to help both parents and their children succeed


Machias – The White House Rural Council announced today that it has enlisted the Community Caring Collaborative as an ally in the fight against persistent rural poverty through recognition as a Rural IMPACT Demonstration site. This designation is part of the White House’s Rural Impact campaign, a cross-agency effort to enhance the quality of life and upward mobility for children in rural places. The Community Caring Collaborative is one of only 10 of these sites in the entire country, and the only site in Maine.


This news comes at a time when many families in Washington County face tough odds that prevent them from finding upward economic mobility:

  • Over 31% of children in the county live in poverty.
  • The county’s unemployment rate of 8.8% is well above the state average of 5.7%.
  • Only 28.5% of adults 25 or older hold a college degree, compared to 37.5% of Mainers overall.


The Community Caring Collaborative and its partners are taking a two-generation approach in order to change this reality. The White House’s assistance will benefit the startup phase of the Family Futures Downeast initiative, an innovative program that incorporates the following complementary strategies to combat entrenched poverty in Washington County:


  • Parents can attend free classes at either higher educational institution in Washington County—the University of Maine at Machias or Washington County Community College—gaining critical work and life skills while earning college credit.
  • Their children will be enrolled in high quality, on-site early educational programs offered by Child and Family Opportunities, a strategy designed to give them the best possible start.
  • Families enrolled in Family Futures Downeast will also benefit from comprehensive support for their financial, academic, and social needs, in what is known as a “wraparound” approach.


Educators, workforce and economic development leaders and social service providers in Washington County designed the program through a collaborative process. “The design of Family Futures Downeast reflects far-reaching, multi-sector collaboration that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of families living in poverty in Washington County,” says Charley Martin-Berry, co-director of the Community Caring Collaborative. “Technical assistance from Rural IMPACT and investment from the John. T. Gorman Foundation will turn our vision into a reality.”

The John T. Gorman Foundation is providing Family Futures Downeast with $100,000 in startup support.

“We are proud to invest in a cutting edge-idea like Family Futures Downeast,” said Tony Cipollone, president and CEO of the John T. Gorman Foundation. “Partners in Washington County recognize that the ability of children to succeed in the future is largely dependent on the ability of their parents to succeed today. In Family Futures Downeast, these partners have crafted a new common sense approach to ending generational poverty by trying to improve the lives of kids and their families simultaneously --- an idea that is gaining traction nationally.”

Often, programs are structured to serve either adults or children, rather than focusing on the entire family together to improve outcomes. As a Rural IMPACT Demonstration site, Family Futures Downeast will help communities adopt a comprehensive, whole-family framework for addressing child poverty.

“The Community Caring Collaborative has been a beacon of hope for families in need for many years,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “This important investment will enable the CCC to continue to fight rural poverty through education and comprehensive support for families in need, and we are grateful that the John T. Gorman Foundation is providing startup support to this important project as well.”

For more information about the White House Rural Council, visit

For more information about the Community Caring Collaborative, visit

For more information about the John T. Gorman Foundation, visit


The mission of the Community Caring Collaborative is to nurture and sustain collaboration that expands resources and increases hope, health, and well-being for people in Washington County, Maine.


The John T. Gorman Foundation advances and invests in innovative ideas and opportunities that improve the lives of Maine's most vulnerable people. The independent, statewide Foundation focuses on four key areas: Improving educational achievement for children, promoting successful transitions to adulthood for vulnerable older youth, helping struggling parents to support their families and enabling low-income seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible. The Foundation's work is guided by data, evaluation, national best practices and lessons from the initiatives in which we invest. We also seek to inform and influence practice and policy on issues affecting disadvantaged children, youth, families and seniors.






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