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.


Since launching in the summer of 2016, G2O has supported project teams at 21 different host sites serving more than 185 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.




Youth research all aspects of event planning including: crafting budgets, soliciting sponsors, and renting equipment.


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.

Make a Donation to the Youth and Community Engagement Team for
Gateway to Opportunity Expansion

The work of the Youth and Community Engagement team is made possible through grant funding from private foundations and individual donations. Your tax deductible donation through the University of Southern Maine Foundation will support all aspects of Gateway to Opportunity expansion, everything from stipends for youth to overall operating expenses that will directly make it possible for students and community organizations to commit time to a project.