American Graduate Champion: Gateway to Opportunity

Gateway to Opportunity brought together nearly 10 nonprofit organizations last summer to provide real-world opportunities for students from Portland high schools. The program provides a chance for young people to gain work experiences and professional skills while taking on projects that benefit their community.

In its second year, Gateway to Opportunity doubled in size, engaging 50 students in this six-week, paid experience through July and August. Students worked with staff from a variety of nonprofits, including the Portland Housing Authority, the Boys & Girls Club, Maine Public, and others. Some of the footage in this American Graduate Champion video was produced by students in the Maine Public sponsored team.

Projects by these young people included developing a neighborhood gathering for public housing residents, working to improve early childhood literacy, exploring economic and environmental issues in one neighborhood, and developing a short documentary about education in Portland, along with others. 

The program is funded through a grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation and is coordinated by staff from Goodwill Industries Northern New England and the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. USM students and recent graduates helped lead the student-led projects.