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Brick & Beam Society invests $10K in summer programs for high-need youths

Students stand in line to receive their book bags

Brick & Beam Society (B&B) has announced investments totaling $10,000 in two STEAM-focused summer programs benefiting high-need youth populations.

Each summer, B&B, a United Way of Southern Maine giving circle, makes immediate impact investments in summer programs that advance STEAM education for children and are innovative, holistic, collaborative, and advance racial equity. These investments help build systemic equity in early childhood learning and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programs.

This year’s summer investments include:

  • Our Place Portland ($5,000) for a free 4-week summer camp serving 40 campers ages 5-12 in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood. Campers will explore STEAM concepts, including engineering, sustainability, and geology through field trips and projects.
  • Westbrook School Department: Rise & Shine Program ($5,000) to provide incoming kindergarten students with book bags that have math and literacy materials, including culturally appropriate books, journals, crayons and markers, and enrichment activities and games.

These investments will serve nearly 300 children from high-need populations. Our Place Portland serves 40 children that live in public housing and are largely from single-caregiver and/or immigrant households. The theme is “The Land, The Sea, Maine, and Me.” Camp activities will include learning about geology along the Maine coast with visits to Kettle Cove Beach and Portland Head Light, visiting Smiling Hill Dairy Farm to see agriculture in action, and designing their sneakers to develop their art skills. Our Place addresses food insecurity by providing breakfast, healthy snacks, and a shared meal. Shared meals and Community Circle meetings are held each day to address socio-emotional skills and build community between youth and staff.

Over the past few years, the Westbrook School Department has experienced unprecedented growth in multilingual diversity and academic/socioeconomic needs. Students are starting school with minimal preschool experience; many have arrived in Westbrook from other countries and have no school experience at all. The Rise & Shine Program’s book bags will support school readiness for incoming kindergartners and cultivate family involvement, which has a significant impact on childhood literacy and math skills.   

Brick & Beam Society investments are funded through member donations and decided on by member volunteers. Investments align with Thrive2027 and support early childhood education with a specific interest in STEAM programming for under-served kids in Southern Maine.

To learn more about United Way of Southern Maine and Brick & Beam Society, visit uwsme.org.

Rise & Shine Program


Our Place Portland

About United Way of Southern Maine
United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM) works alongside the community to quickly respond to emerging needs and tackle persistent issues that hold people back from achieving economic stability and leading healthy lives. UWSM mobilizes the ideas and resources of more than 300 businesses, foundations, government, and nonprofit partners, and thousands of individuals to close gaps in early childhood development, create pathways to educational and employment opportunities, and increase access to mental health care and addiction prevention and intervention services. Learn more at uwsme.org.

About Brick & Beam Society
Brick & Beam Society (B&B) is a giving circle of United Way of Southern Maine designed to cultivate the next generation of philanthropic leaders in Southern Maine. Members represent companies from various industries who are building momentum for action. Since its launch in 2016, Brick & Beam Society has invested over $550,000 in early literacy and STEM/STEAM programs that are giving children the gift of a lifetime and the power to create their own destiny. Learn more at brickandbeam.org.  

About Our Place Portland
Our Place Portland is a non-profit organization founded in July 2022 which provides (1) youth programming in the form of free summer camps and after-school mentorship groups for middle school and elementary age youth residing in East Bayside and (2) family advocacy services and basic needs provision for families served and the broader East Bayside community. Learn more at ourplaceportland.com

About Westbrook School Department
The Westbrook School Department believes that education is a partnership among students, staff, families, and the community. With over 20% of students who are multilingual learners, over 25% who have identified special needs, and over 60% who are economically disadvantaged, the school community works to create equitable systems that provide opportunity for all. As a “whole child” school system, Westbrook focuses on academic, social, and emotional development and is fortunate to have partnerships within the local community.

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