Maine Youth Need Comprehensive, Youth-Focused Solutions to Succeed

Maine Youth Need Comprehensive, Youth-Focused Solutions to Succeed

John T. Gorman Foundation Issues Inaugural Policy Brief, “From Adolescence to Adulthood: A Blueprint for Helping Maine’s Youth Succeed”

Portland – The transition from adolescence to adulthood is challenging for any young person. But the 17 percent of Maine children living in poverty[1], youth involved in Maine’s foster care or juvenile justice systems and youth experiencing homelessness face even more hurdles during this key time of life.

A new policy brief from the John T. Gorman Foundation identifies some of these hurdles and provides policy-makers with examples of Maine-based programs that are achieving real, replicable results that can inform new policy directions for the state. Initiatives profiled include Portland’s First Place, Lewiston’s Sequoia Program, The Mitchell Institute’s Promise Scholars and Maine LEAP (Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential). Each of these initiatives is grounded in the real-life experiences and needs of youth they serve.

“It is essential that the voices of young people are central to any effort, ensuring that their individual and collective needs are represented,” said Sara Gagné-Holmes, Senior Program Associate of the John T. Gorman Foundation. “We have a moral and financial obligation to give them the best possible opportunity to succeed.”

According to one estimate, helping vulnerable young people succeed has the potential to add more than 6,000 workers to the state’s labor force.[2] Some national estimates show a $30,000 one-time investment designed to connect a young person to education or training and work would save taxpayers $65,230 over a lifetime and generate $105,500 in new tax revenue. Maine alone stands to gain $29 million in savings by investing in just 1,840 of its most disconnected young people.[3]

The John T. Gorman Foundation urges state policy-makers and likeminded groups to create a comprehensive, coordinated, flexible youth-centered continuum of care for Maine’s young people. The Foundation specifically calls for:

  1. Creating a Statewide Coordinating Body for Youth;
  2. Increasing access to community-based programs;
  3. Developing community-based housing options; and
  4. Preventing systems involvement in the first place.

“Given our state’s size, demographics and economy, we can ill afford to have a single young person fall through the cracks,” said Tony Cipollone, President and CEO of the John T. Gorman Foundation. “We are proposing common-sense recommendations that are essential steps in investing and protecting Maine’s future.”

In addition to distributing the brief, the John T. Gorman Foundation will host gatherings across the state in the coming months to discuss how best to support this key Maine population.

To read the brief in full and to learn more about the John T. Gorman Foundation, please visit

[1] The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2017). 2017 KIDS COUNT data book: State trends in well-being.

[2] Maine Development Foundation and the Maine Chamber of Commerce, Making Maine Work: Critical Investments for the Maine Economy, which estimated that reducing the percentage of disconnected youth from just 15 percent to 10 percent of the overall youth population could add more than 6,000 workers to the state’s labor force.

[3] Opportunity Youth Network (2017). Return on investment (ROI) for reconnecting opportunity youth in each congressional district.