gateway to opportunity
Throughout the state of Maine, employers struggle to find workers with in-demand skills and competencies, and at the same time work-eligible youth struggle to find skill-building employment experiences. The Gateway to Opportunity (G2O) program is a model in the Greater Portland area designed to address both of these challenges. G2O connects young people (primarily rising juniors and seniors from local public schools) with paid, work-based learning projects where they hone and develop 21st Century Skills. G2O is based on national best practices and lessons learned from a highly successful summer youth employability initiative.
Gateway to Opportunity: A promising summer youth employment model to address local workforce needs
This article, which has been published by the Maine Policy Review, details the five-year community-driven effort to develop, implement, evaluate, and expand the comprehensive Gateway to Opportunity model in Cumberland County. The article also explores how innovative work-based learning programs, such as G2O, are critical for Maine’s workforce and local economy.
Since launching in the summer of 2016, G2O has supported project teams at over 20 different host sites serving close to 120 youth. Supervision support is provided to the youth by USM undergraduate students who are trained to be Team Leaders. Each team is based at a host site organization that identifies and supports the development of a summer project. With the USM student Team Leaders serving as near peer mentors, youth hold responsibility for driving the work forward, culminating in a final presentation of their results.
SUCCESSFUL PROJECT EXAMPLES
Youth research all aspects of event planning including: crafting budgets, soliciting sponsors, and renting equipment.
COMMUNITY NEEDS ASSESSMENTS
Youth craft questions, identify groups of individuals and design the format for conversations with key informants (interviews, focus groups, etc.).
Youth explore design thinking, learn coding,
and app creation skills.
Youth learn film making techniques, and the various roles/skills involved in video production.