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Suna Shaw (East Bayside Community Policing Coordinator), Mike Tarpinian (The Opportunity Alliance), Diane Garofalo (Unum), Nicole Witherbee (The John T. Gorman Foundation)

United Way of Greater Portland’s Women United announced at their annual fall reception at Urban Farm Fermentory a $100,000 multi-year investment in “two-generation” strategies exclusively for single mothers and their children. Through an intensive community review process, Women United selected The Opportunity Alliance’s (TOA) Project WIN (Women in Neighborhoods). The program will work with a cohort of single mothers and their children living in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood.

“The Opportunity Alliance is delighted to have been granted this award from Women United. We have long been present in East Bayside through our Early Childhood programming, as well as offering other services which help families thrive. Elsewhere in Cumberland County, we have been running a pilot program using this type of “two-generation” approach since we know that to help the child, we must help the parent, and vice versa,” said Michael Tarpinian, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Opportunity Alliance. “The Opportunity Alliance has a long-held belief that self-directed initiatives get the best results. The women and children involved with this project will be equal partners in the creation of a seamless system of fully integrated supports that range from early education, housing, post-secondary education, workforce development, and financial literacy that will create a pathway out of poverty. This grant gives us the ability to invest in families in East Bayside in a meaningful way as well as leverages our other efforts in Greater Portland. It reflects our commitment to the Thrive 2027 goals and we look forward to working with our community partners extensively through this opportunity.”

The complex, interconnected challenges that these families face require coordinated community action. Project WIN will work in a deliberate and focused way to bring together and align resources from various community partners for the greatest impact. Initial community partners include SMCC, Portland Adult Education, Head Start, Pine Tree Legal, and East End Community School.

“Women United is proud to serve as a pacesetter to move forward the two-generation strategies in our community,” said Women United Co-Chair Diane Garofalo. “We know that children and families do better when they both have every opportunity to succeed in school, in work, and as parents.”

Through this investment, Project WIN will bring together the partners who can help parents pursue employment skills and education goals to improve their own economic security and stability, while simultaneously ensuring their children are on a path from the earliest age to engage in lifelong learning.

“This investment is the culmination of a lot of hard work by thoughtful and committed community leaders,” said Women United Co-Chair Nicole Witherbee. “It is very gratifying to invest in our community and support our shared vision to support single mothers with children.”

About Women United
Women United, an affinity group of United Way of Greater Portland, is an influential force for the advancement of low-income, single mothers and their children in Greater Portland and is comprised of women business, philanthropic and volunteer leaders. Through investment, volunteerism, and advocacy, Women United leads critical work that will positively impact single mothers’ ability to meet their basic needs, educate their children, and achieve optimal health and well-being. Women United is aligned with Thrive2027 and leverages United Way of Greater Portland’s rich history, resources, knowledge and relationships to achieve results.

Statistics About the East Bayside Community Served by the Investment:

  • 65% (115) of East Bayside public housing units are occupied by single-female-headed households (PHA January 2017)
  • 21% of residents in East Bayside public housing are between 0 to 10 years old (PHA January 2017)
  • 59% of individuals in East Bayside have an income below $25,000/yr (2015 American Community Survey-Tract 5)
  • Nearly 44% of households receiving SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aka food stamps) in East Bayside are female-headed households (2015 American Community Survey -Tract 5)
  • 75.9% of unmarried women in East Bayside are receiving public assistance income (2015 American Community Survey -Tract 5)