In a creative display of collaboration and coordination, a host of educational institutions and community partners in Androscoggin County have joined forces to support adult learners beginning or completing their degrees, obtaining certifications, and seeking training. Led by the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) and the University of Southern Maine (USM), this joint effort received a $10,000 pilot grant from MaineSpark’s Adult Promise which was used to assemble the Lewiston Adult Promise (LeAP) collaborative. LeAP participants include the following schools: UMA, USM, Central Maine Community College, and Maine College of Healthcare Professions. Other involved community groups include Community Concepts, Lewiston-Auburn Adult Ed, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, YWCA, Lewiston Public Library, and LA Metro Chamber of Commerce.
LeAP, seeks adult learners looking to earn post-secondary credentials, change careers, or learn a new trade or skill needing support in achieving their goals. Often financial aid is provided to aspiring adults who are having difficulty completing their schooling due to external or unexpected factors.
For the last year and a half, representatives have been meeting with local community partners to discuss current resources, struggles that students face, and how to work together to broadcast the message that support for credential attainment is available. Since last summer, LeAP awarded nearly $75,000 in scholarships and emergency funds to 58 local adult learners, funded by a special grant from the Maine Community Foundation. These funds were used for expenses such as tuition, car repairs, childcare, books, housing costs, and more.
“Without this collaborative support, the higher education aspirations of adults in this region may not have been realized,” stated Jonathan Henry, LeAP Co-Chair and UMA Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing. “Small, unexpected disruptions or barriers can derail an adult from pursuing or completing a credential of value, with the goal of obtaining well-paying employment,” Henry continued. “The LeAP collaborative seeks to fill the gap in Maine’s workforce, and provide wraparound support to get adult students to the finish line – a college degree or post-secondary credential.”
MaineSpark is a 10-year commitment from Maine’s most influential education and business leaders to work together to ensure that Maine’s workforce is productive and competitive. The Lewiston Adult Promise, LeAP’s pilot grant, is composed of a network of agencies and institutions working on providing information, support, and resources for those looking to start or finish a degree or certificate, switch industries, or move up in their field. The goal is to have over 60% of adults in the region with a credential of value that will advance workforce needs and personal career goals by the year 2025.