Portland, Maine

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Community Life + Organizations

The size of Portland 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 Trails. 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 by zip code, browse organization needs, or use BoardMatch to find openings on nonprofit and community boards.

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

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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 various volunteer opportunities, from ESL tutoring to the American Friends Program, which matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families.

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 Portland Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary care 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. Medical appointments can be scheduled by calling (207) 874-2141.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Food Programs collects and distributes food to 47 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries and other social service providers. To make a donation.

Community Media Organizations

CTN is Portland’s community television network. 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.

Maine Radio Project is a freeform internet radio station supporting the arts community of Portland, Maine and beyond. Learn how to get involved.

WMPG is Portland’s community radio station. They also host the Blunt Youth Radio Project. 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 Green Streets promotes the development of commuter rail infrastructure in the Greater Portland area and encourages people to adopt green commuting habits. Here’s how to get involved or make a donation.

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

Gay Portland is a one stop resource for living GLBT in Portland. See also: Gay Portland produced by GayCities. There is also a city-wide pride parade held every year in June.

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.

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 membervolunteer, 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.

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.

Maine Women’s Fund is a philanthropic and leadership community for women in Maine. Learn more about the organization’s events in Portland.

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 300 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.

Civic Engagement Opportunities

If you're interested in effective city government, join Portland Tomorrow, a non-partisan group of civic-minded Portlanders. 

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, or search current opportunities. You can also check out current volunteer opportunities with the City, including mentoring high school students through the Portland Mentoring Alliance. You can also make a donation or learn more about public-private partnership opportunities.

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.

The New Girls’ Network, sponsored by the Maine Women’s Fund is a leadership community that gives women in their 20s and 30s a chance to build their networks, explore social change and unleash their leadership potential.