Portland, Maine

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Community Life + Organizations

Portland's size supports and encourages community involvement. It’s easy to meet people, make inroads, and start being a part of real planning, shaping, and decision-making in Portland and beyond.

Marcia Minter, a Chicago transplant and Vice President Creative Director for LL Bean, says she’s been a lot more involved in community work since she moved to Portland. Marcia has served on a diverse array of boards, including Portland Ovations, Parks for People (through the Trust for Public Land), and Portland Freedom Trail. She says, “I’m certain there’s no way that I would have been involved in nearly as many things in Chicago or New York, and I wouldn’t have wanted to given the logistics of getting from one location to the next. Here it’s much easier to get where you need to go and start developing a reputation much sooner than you can in larger cities, or even in midsize cities.”

Want to get involved but not sure how? VolunteerMaine is a network of state, nonprofit, public, and private agencies that have come together to promote volunteerism in Maine. You can search volunteer opportunities or national service projects like AmeriCorps and Foster Grandparents.

There are many more ways to start contributing. Here’s a sampling.

Did we miss something? Suggest a resource.

 

Civic Engagement Opportunities

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has done a variety of advocacy and structural improvement work in the city and Greater Portland since 1992. Join them to make Maine better for biking.

The City of Portland oversees a diverse group of committees and boards, from the Land Bank Commission to the Public Art Committee. Contact the individual committees for information on how to get involved. You can also check out current volunteer opportunities with the City or make a donation.

The Institute for Civic Leadership offers training opportunities for nonprofit boards and a year-long networking and leadership development program.

The Maine League of Young Voters galvanizes young people about political issues affecting the community and works to involve more people in the political process. There are also many volunteer opportunities.

Community Support Organizations

Catholic Charities Maine is dedicated to providing support for the refugee and immigrant communities in Maine. Learn more about making a donation or volunteer opportunities, from ESL tutoring to the American Friends Program, which matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families.

The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project provides free and low-cost immigration information and legal assistance to low-income Maine residents. ILAP helps immigrants keep their families together, gain protection from persecution and domestic violence, attain residency and work authorization, and become proud U.S. citizens. There are many volunteer opportunities.

ITN Portland offers dignified, affordable rides to seniors and visually impaired people within a 15 mile radius of Portland. You can donate money, a car, or volunteer as a driver

LearningWorks helps provide learning opportunities for at-risk youth, the immigrant community, and low-income families. Learn about making a donation or volunteering with one of the organization’s programs.

Maine Medical Center is a nonprofit community hospital serving the greater Portland area. Learn about volunteer opportunities at the hospital.

Mercy Hospital is a nonprofit community hospital sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Learn how to make a donation or volunteer.

The mission of The Opportunity Alliance is to transform the community by helping people in need build better lives. To support the Alliance, make a donation here.

The Portland Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary and mental healthcare for adults and children. Portland CHC is dedicated to providing high quality, patient-centered healthcare that is affordable and culturally sensitive. In addition to serving uninsured patients on a sliding fee scale, Portland CHC welcomes individuals with MaineCare, Medicare, and private insurance. Portland CHC welcomes donations.

Preble Street provides support for people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty through drop-in centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, social work services, and supported housing. You can help by volunteering, making a financial contribution or in-kind donation, and more.

The Portland Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other serious illnesses. Families can stay in proximity to the treatment hospital, be comfortable and cared for during their stay, and enjoy home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, and a place for children to play. There are many volunteer opportunities.

Southern Maine Agency on Aging matches volunteers with seniors in need, while their RSVP program helps 55+ members find meaningful volunteer opportunities.

STRIVE (Socialization-Transition-Reflection-Innovation-Vocation-Education) is an organization designed to address many of the issues faced by young adults with disabilities. Learn about the many ways to get involved.

Wayside Food Programs is dedicated to increasing access to nutritious food for those in need in Southern Maine. Wayside’s hunger relief efforts include free community meals, mobile food pantries, a kids’ healthy snacks program, and community gardens. Wayside collects and distributes food to 47 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, and other social service providers. You can help by donating money, food, or time.

Community Media Organizations

Community Television Network (CTN) is a nonprofit organization that operates the public access television station, Channel 2, for the City of Portland and a community television station, Channel 5, for the greater Portland area. Support CTN or contact the organization for information on how to get involved.

Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) is Maine’s public radio and television network. There are a variety of ways to support the network, including making a donation or becoming a member.

WMPG is Portland’s community radio station. They also host the Blunt Youth Radio Project, an award-winning weekly call-in talk show that's staffed by free and incarcerated high school age youth from the Portland area. Learn how to make a donationbecome an underwriter, or volunteer.

Green Organizations

Cultivating Community’s mission is to strengthen communities by growing food, preparing youth leaders and new farmers, and promoting social and environmental justice. Learn about volunteer opportunities with the organization.

Local Sprouts is a culinary and cultural organization with three main branches: a Community Supported Kitchen, Cooperative Catering, and Community Learning and Food. Learn how to contribute as a volunteer, worker, worker-owner, or advisory board member.

Portland Trails is a nonprofit urban land trust maintaining more than fifty miles of trails in the greater Portland area. Learn more about individual membershipplanned giving, and volunteer opportunities ranging from doing trail work to helping coordinate events.

Reverb is a nonprofit organization founded by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband Adam Gardner, of Guster, that educates and engages musicians and their fans to take action toward a more sustainable future. Learn more about the organization and ways to give.

Other Organizations

EqualityMaine works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Maine through political action, community organizing, education, and collaboration. Find out how you can get involved

Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and well being of girls and women. Their mission is to create opportunities, develop programs, and provide services that empower them. You can volunteer to help.

Peace Action Maine is the state’s largest peace organization, and is part of National Peace Action. Learn how to become involved with Peace Action.

Pride Portland! brings together Portland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied community to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQA movement and raise awareness of the work that still needs to be done. Pride Portland! sponsors the city's annual Pride Festival & Parade, and welcomes volunteers.

Educational Organizations

Greater Portland Landmarks promotes the preservation and revitalization of historic buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes, while encouraging high-quality new architecture that enhances the livability and economic vitality of greater Portland. Learn about ways to get involved as a member, volunteer, or docent.

LearningWorks helps provide learning opportunities for at-risk youth, the immigrant community, and low-income families. Learn about making a donation or volunteering with one of the organization’s programs.

Maine Historical Society’s collection and work chronicles five centuries of Maine living. Learn about how to support the organization by becoming a member or making a contribution.

Maine Preservation is a nonprofit statewide historic preservation organization, and partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Learn more about becoming a member, volunteering, or making a donation.

Portland Adult Education offers business and skills training, along with literacy classes and “personal enrichment” offerings such as dance, crafts, or cooking courses. Enrollment is open to everyone, and there is a great need for volunteers to assist in classrooms and to work as tutors with students who are learning English as a second language. 

The Multilingual and Multicultural Center oversees Portland Public Schools' English Language Acquisition Program for students whose home language is not English. Currently, the district has over 2,200 students who come from homes where over 60 different languages are spoken, representing about 25% of the schools' total enrollment. There are many volunteer opportunities.

Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers intensive fifteen-week programs in documentary writing, radio, and photography for undergraduate and graduate students.

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland focused on strengthening the literacy skills of young writers aged six to eighteen. Learn more about volunteer opportunities or make a donation.

Professional and Leadership Opportunities

Maine Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts‘ mission is to provide effective legal council for artists and organizations with limited financial resources and to educate broadly about arts-related business and legal issues.

Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project coordinates the volunteer efforts of Maine attorneys and community members to help low-income people navigate the civil justice system. Learn more about volunteer opportunities for community members, students, and attorneys.

The Maine Women’s Fund is a philanthropic and leadership community for women in Maine. Learn more about the organization and how to get involved.

SCORE, part of the national SCORE Association, offers free counseling and business training for individuals who have a business idea, want to start a business, or have a business problem to solve. Learn more about volunteering with SCORE’s Portland chapter.

Economic and Cultural Organizations

Portland Buy Local is a thriving independent community and business alliance, with over 450 nonprofit and business members. Find out more about volunteering, becoming a member, and Portland Buy Local events.

Portland Hour Exchange is a community service exchange network that enables members to donate their time and expertise in exchange for needed services. Learn how to become a member or make a donation.

Portland’s Downtown District is a nonprofit dedicated to the economic vitality of Portland’s downtown. Learn more about the organization, or contact for information on how to get involved.