About Us

The John T. Gorman Foundation advances and invests in innovative ideas and opportunities that improve the lives of Maine's most vulnerable people. We focus on four key areas: Improving educational achievement for children, promoting successful transitions to adulthood for vulnerable older youth, helping struggling families succeed and enabling seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible.  
Our Priority Areas

First Lewiston Construction Cohort Celebrates Graduation
Abdulrazzaq Al Masoodi (right), one of the graduates, and Kimberly Sullivan, who worked with students in the program.

On April 25th, the first cohort of the Lewiston construction training program supported by the Foundation held a graduation ceremony at Tree Street Youth Community Center. All of the graduates were offered jobs from local construction firms who partnered in the effort, and a second cohort has begun its work. 

To learn more about the effort, 
Foundation Staff and Grantees Attend 2Gen Institute in Tulsa

Several representatives from the John T. Gorman Foundation traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma from April 24th to 27th to participate in the 2Gen Practice Institute hosted by Ascend, an initiative of the Aspen Institute, and CAP Tulsa, a national model for the two-generation approach. 

Foundation staff and grantees joined more than 200 leading practitioners, researchers, and philanthropists from across the country, all of whom share the goal of understanding, adapting, and implementing best and next practices for two-generation approaches in their work with parents and children. 

If you're interested in the Foundation's work in this area,  we have an article in this issue that explores the topic in depth.

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Note from the President and CEO

Now that we're well into another short-lived spring, we wanted to bring you up to date on some of the Foundation's recent activities. In this issue of our quarterly newsletter, you'll find stories that cover a wide range of efforts that are working to improve the lives of disadvantaged people around the state.

We highlight examples of programs that are strengthening Maine's workforce, and in our first article we share details about some the efforts we have supported in this sector. This includes Southern Maine Community College's ESOL-to-EMT program, which was recently featured in several local news outlets, as well as the New York Times. In another article, we also discuss two-generation strategies, an approach that we're increasingly considering in our work around children and families. We talk about what that means, and describe how we're working to connect our grantees with local and national ideas to maximize results for children and parents  simultaneously

With the end of the school year fast approaching, we also feature an article about the challenge of "summer learning loss." We're about ready to launch the fourth year of our summer learning initiative, and the community-based programs with whom we are partnering are gearing up to help young children in Portland, Westbrook and Bangor beat the summer literacy slide.  In other recent news, the Foundation supported a research brief about the state of Early Head Start in Maine-the program that targets children aged 0-2 and their families. We'll tell you more about that program's current reach and potential for expansion. 

Thanks for reading, and as always, I invite you to write me or any of our staff with any questions, comments or suggestions you have regarding the Foundation's work. 

-Tony Cipollone, President and CEO
Foundation Invests in Maine's Workforce
Students in Southern Maine Community College's ESOL to EMT program. 
One of the core principles of the John T. Gorman Foundation is that all people in Maine should have access to good jobs with growth potential. That's why we invest in workforce development initiatives designed to help Mainers achieve the skills they need to secure and keep those jobs. We're proud that one such program has attracted both local and national attention-the ESOL (English as a Second Language) to EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) program at Southern Maine Community College . The initiative grew out of the recognition that many New Mainers arrive in the country with substantial medical training, but without the English language proficiency they need to get jobs in the health sciences field. Those who do find placements still might face underemployment, since it can be difficult to transfer credentials earned internationally to the U.S. medical system.

That's where the ESOL to EMT program comes in. By offering English language instruction along with training in becoming an emergency medical technician, the classes offer participants the opportunity to draw upon their past expertise while gaining the skills required for long-term career growth in their new home country. The program also provides the EMT field with much-needed new trainees, as many ambulance services in the region report that they can't find enough qualified workers for their openings. As David Zahn, chairman of the global languages department at Southern Maine Community College, said in the  New York Times article about the initiative, "This program is a win-win-win."

Two-Generation Strategies Help Children and their Parents Thrive
Low-income families with young children -- of which there are 40,000 here in Maine -- often face daily obstacles that can lead to lifelong difficulties for their kids. For instance, if a parent loses access to reliable child care, he or she might not be able to work enough hours to support a family-or might even lose a job entirely. Those lost wages can push a family deeper into poverty. Research tells us that children who grow up in this kind of environment face steep odds and are much more likely to be poor themselves when they reach adulthood. How can we help break this cycle of generational poverty?

Increasingly, we at the Foundation think that the answer to that question lies in part through initiatives that take a two-generation approach. These programs include comprehensive strategies that bundle together and target opportunities that serve both parents and their children at the same time, thereby increasing a whole family's chance of economic success and self-sufficiency.

"We all want to see families thrive, but fragmented approaches that address the needs of children and their parents separately often leave either the child or parent behind," said Nicole Witherbee, Chief Program Officer. "If we consider the needs of parents and children separately, we might miss some of the challenges experienced by parents who are working or studying while raising a child. That's a tough situation for anyone, but it's even harder for people who live below or near the poverty line."

Summer Learning Keeps Young Readers On Track
Children participating in the 2016 Summer Learning Initiative at the Boys & GIrls Club of Bangor.
Summer is just around the corner-- which means that planning for the Foundation's summer learning initiative is well underway. Now in its fourth year, the initiative is based on the understanding that low-income students lose on average two months of learning during the long break from school, and that this lost ground contributes to the achievement gap that already exists between economically disadvantaged children and their higher-income peers.

Quality summer learning programming is one of the best ways to beat this so-called "summer slide." As part of our work to ensure that all Maine children read proficiently by the end of third grade, we support summer programs around the state that offer a well-designed literacy curriculum to children who are most at risk of losing academic skills. In past years, Foundation-supported summer efforts, which are based on national best practices, have consistently seen significant returns for participating children.

This year, the Foundation is working with three community-based organizations: the Intercultural Community Center in Westbrook, the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine, and the Boys & Girls Club of Bangor, each of whom is receiving a grant of $50,000 to support their summer programming. The sites have a proven track record of providing a mix of recreational and enrichment activities to children in economically disadvantaged communities, and will benefit from technical assistance and on-site coaching to ensure that their programs provide the best possible experience to their participants.

New Report Looks at State of Early Head Start in Maine
Researchers have consistently made the case that investing in our youngest kids' educational enrichment pays off down the line, finding anywhere from a 7-to-1 to a 13-to-1 return on initial investment. Head Start, the federally funded early education program that's celebrating its 52 nd year, is widely recognized as an effective vehicle for this kind of investment through high-quality learning experiences for young children who are economically disadvantaged. Early Head Start is the component of the program designed for younger children under three and their families.

A new brief from the Carsey School of Public Policy of the University of New Hampshire, which was commissioned by the John T. Gorman Foundation , looks at Early Head Start (EHS) programming in Maine and finds some bright spots, as well as some areas that might benefit from improvement. Unlike "traditional" Head Start, which is primarily delivered through classroom services to children ages 4 and 5, Early Head Start includes both center-based and home-based services for children birth to three years. The home visiting component, which is made up of weekly appointments and group activities twice a month, also includes prenatal education. This helps make sure children get a great start and that their parents receive access to helpful resources as early as possible.