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Our Purpose


Members of Brick & Beam Society invest their time, skills, and finances through United Way of Southern Maine in order to meet the community’s most pressing needs while making longer-term investments to ensure lasting change.

Brick & Beam Society supports strategies that align with Thrive2027, with a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and early childhood enrichment opportunities for children in Southern Maine.

Over $700,000 invested in STEAM, early literacy, and childhood education over the past six years

Community Investment Process
The Brick & Beam Society makes community investments that embrace both a proactive and reactive approach to funding with immediate impact and long-term strategy impact grants. Two rounds of funding are granted each year: Immediate Impact Investments are decided in late spring and additional investments are announced at Annual Community Nights in the fall.


Following an extensive application process, the Impact Investment Committee (IIC) makes a significant community investment each year through the Brick & Beam Society’s Annual Community Night.

OCT 2023 ($125,000)

Brick & Beam Society has invested $125,400 in four afterschool programs to increase access and help build systemic equity. Brick & Beam is a giving circle of UWSM that focuses on early childhood learning and STEAM programming for historically underserved communities from birth through 8th grade.  

The investments include: 

  • $47,400 to Our Place Portland for Youth Mentorship Groups + Family Advocacy Services. The program will engage middle school students as Mentors-in-Training for younger youth with a small stipend and provide afterschool programming that includes STEAM activities, field trips, meals and snacks. Our Place Portland will also provide advocacy services for caregivers and host events to engage the broader community.  
  • $28,000 to Intercultural Community Center for Project STRIVE (Support Toward Refugee and Immigrant Voices and Education), which provides accessible, free, and well-rounded academic support for high-need students in grades 5-8 in Westbrook. 
  • $25,000 to Portland Community Squash (PCS)’s Rally Portland. Rally Portland is an afterschool program for students in 6-12th grade that provides squash lessons, food, enrichment, academics, and wellness. 
  • $25,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine’s South Portland programs to enrich afterschool programming.  

OCT 2022 ($100,000)

In 2022, Brick & Beam Society invested $100,000 in three afterschool and positive youth development organizations. Out-of-school programs are uniquely positioned to develop impactful enrichment experiences that blend fun, learning, and social-emotional growth that are critical for all youth, particularly those who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, food insecurity, and homelessness. 

Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine was awarded $45,000 for Brick Hill Youth Program, a place-based afterschool program in South Portland. Brick & Beam has made the program their first signature investment. As a signature investment, Brick Hill will receive ongoing, multi-year funding and volunteer support. 

Gateway Community Services, Maine was awarded $15,000 for drop-in educational sessions for English Language Learners and children experiencing homelessness, specifically, children staying at hotels in South Portland. 

Portland Community Squash was awarded $40,000 for Rally Portland, an afterschool program for students in grades 6-12 that includes food, squash, enrichment, academics, and wellness.

OCT 2021 ($80,000)

Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine was awarded $50,000 for Brick Hill Youth, a pilot afterschool program for up to 24, K-5 residents of the Brick Hill Avesta Housing complex. Programs will be designed to support the academic success of early learners at Brick Hill, one of the most vulnerable communities in the greater Portland area. Kids will participate in enriching STE/A/M activities and curriculum, which were successfully developed under a previous Brick & Beam award.  [WMTW TV Coverage]

Foundation for Portland Public Schools was awarded $30,000 for the Mobile MakerspacePPS Mobile Makerspace is an innovative way to ensure that every Portland elementary student has access to engaging technology, engineering, and design experiences and hands-on, rigorous opportunities in STEM. The staffed mobile makerspace will travel to elementary schools in Portland and be set up for two weeks at a time 

AUG 2020 ($88,000)

Avesta Housing was awarded $45,000 for Westbrook Partnership Learning Assistance Initiative. Students who are residents of the Frenchtown neighborhood in Westbrook will be invited to participate in a mentoring/tutoring program. This will mitigate difficulties that they/their families face from remote learning.  

LearningWorks and Side x Side were awarded $43,000 for STEAM programming for Gifted Low Income, Minority, and English Language Learner Elementary Students.  

OCT 2019 ($69,500)

Palaver Strings was awarded $19,500 for the Early Childhood Music & After-School Strings Programs.

Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine was awarded $50,000 to enhance the STEM Futures Program by strengthening technology infrastructure and providing access to in-house expertise. 

FALL 2018 ($75,000)

LearningWorks and Side X Side were awarded $50,000 to pilot an after-school program in Portland, South Portland, and Westbrook that integrates creativity and the arts with science, technology, and math.

Intercultural Community Center was awarded $25,000 to build a computer lab that will support online language tools and provide students access to computer science, robotics, and engineering programming.

FALL 2017 ($51,400)

Mayo Street Arts was awarded $26,400 to expand Summer Programs for Youth, the RAD (Reading, Arts, Dance) program, and the free lunch program provided by the Opportunity Alliance.

Youth and Family Outreach was awarded $25,000 for their Families Matter Program, which educates families on how to prepare meals, shop and cook on a budget–creating building blocks that families can use to create habits of eating healthy meals together. 

FALL 2016 ($50,000)

The Congolese Community of Maine (CoCo Maine) was awarded $50,000 for their Dual Generation Program for Early Childhood Education, which offers English language classes, family literacy initiatives, parenting activities, and outreach to parents and children ages 2-5. 


SUMMER 2023 ($10,000)

  • 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.

SUMMER 2022 ($19,290)

In May 2022, the Brick & Beam Society announced two investments:

  • $13,890 to Educate Maine’s Project>Login Girls Who Code Summer Camp for the development and execution of two Girls Who Code summer camps in the greater Portland region. [Portland Press Herald Coverage]
  • $5,400 in scholarship to The Rufus Porter Museum of Art & Ingenuity’s Camp Invention for twenty-five low-income children, grades kindergarten to grade 6, to attend Camp Invention held at Stevens Brook Elementary School in Bridgton

SUMMER 2021 ($4,680)

In March 2021, the Brick & Beam Society made an investment of $4,680 in Rufus Porter Museum for Camp Invention camp scholarships. 

SUMMER 2020 ($18,788)

Rufus Porter Museum was awarded $6,500 for camp scholarships to support twenty-five children grades K-6. Camp Invention provides five days of “inventing challenges,” fun, and a feeling of belonging and achievement.

LearningWorks, Side x Side, and Telling Room were awarded $10,288 for the second phase of a pilot project previously funded by the Brick & Beam Society that delivered innovative STEAM programming to local elementary schools. The three organizations will deliver a project to 50 students who are falling behind academically at low-income schools in South Portland. The foundation of the program is an engineering curriculum focused on pollination in which students think like agricultural engineers.

SUMMER 2019 ($20,000)

In July 2019, the Brick & Beam Society Impact Investing Committee (IIC) made an immediate impact investment to achieve longer-term goals:

  • Mayo Street Arts was awarded $10,000 to expand Summer Programs for Youth by adding science and math to their RAD (Reading, Arts, Dance) program. The free lunch program provided by the Opportunity Alliance. ($10,000).
  • South Portland Public Schools was awarded $5,000 for a book translation project. The project will engage Pre K families in building the literacy skills of their children while cultivating a positive home-school relationship. It will allow SPPS to engage families using their native language, and break the barriers that inhibit literacy learning in their homes. ($5,000).
  • Literacy Kits Supplies: Brick & Beam members will construct literacy kits during 2019/2020 social events and donate them to local elementary schools. ($5,000)

SUMMER 2018 ($47,848)

In March 2018, the Brick & Beam Society Impact Investing Committee (IIC) announced investments in the following programs:

  • Westbrook School Department: Establish “Brick and Beam Bookshelves” in each of three elementary school libraries. The shelves will be mobile carts which will house collections of approximately 200 books a piece ($12,915).
  • USM Portland Empowered Early Childhood Parent Engagement Initiative: Support to host shared space cafes with a focus on engaging parents around topics pertinent to early childhood ($5,000).
  • Boys and Girls Club: Logo Robotics kits and expansion kits, which allows BGCSM to offer Robotics to 2nd & 3rd graders at Portland, Riverton, and Sagamore Clubhouses ($4,928).
  • Portland Family Shelter: Supports a 4-week, 4 days/wk, 4hrs/day summer program for lower elementary homeless youth staying at Portland’s family shelter ($15,000).
  • Sea Change Yoga: Trauma-informed yoga for youth with special needs and their parents/caregivers ($10,000).

SUMMER 2017 ($17,370)

On April 19, 2017, the IIC unanimously voted to support the following programs:

  • Walker Memorial Library: Purchase of 120 books in French and Arabic, Westbrook’s two most spoken foreign languages. ($1,600).
  • Portland Public Schools Summer Reading Program: Summer book packs and staffing for 40 students at Reiche School and 40 students at Presumpscott School in Portland ($4,770).
  • Mayo Street Arts: Support for summer programming including free summer tutoring by East End School staff, free RAD literacy based arts education programming (Reading, Arts, Dance), and free lunch. ($11,000).

SUMMER 2016 ($10,000)

On June 10, 2016, the IIC made a series of immediate impact investments to address the summer learning gap:

  • Portland Public Schools’ Summer Reading Program: Books and reading comprehension activities for 40 students in grades 3-5 ($3,800).
  • Portland Public Schools’ Summer Math Component for Elementary Summer Program: Online math learning software at one school ($2,000).
  • A Company of Girls’ “Art in the Parks” Program: Books for children at weekly art activities program in Portland ($2,200).
  • Feeding Bodies and Minds’ Summer Picnic for Children: Starting Strong tote bags with materials, lunch, and books ($2,000).