Community-Based Learning

Potential Service-Learning Partners

The Office of Community Based Learning is pleased to have established partnerships throughout the community with organizations that are eager to work with USM students and faculty. If you are a faculty member considering establishing a service-learning partnership, below is a list of organizations whom we have partnered with that want to work with you. Our office wants to help facilitate connections between you and our community partners so be sure to contact us when you are ready to get started. 


                                                        Animal Refuge League

In addition to temporary care and shelter for stray, abandoned and relinquished animals, the Animal Refuge League works to create awareness and support for the humane treatment of all animals and to end animal overpopulation through education and the promotion of spaying and neutering. Shelter helpers are always needed and they are open to other service learning ideas. Top

                                                          Biddeford Estates

Biddeford Estates is an 89 bed assisted living home that provides 24/7 care and support to the frail elderly.

  • Wellness programming and activities - 1/1 visits, lead games/activities, or develop activity around your particular interest

Potential service learning opportunities include: Visual arts - study on aging; Therapeutic Recreation - develop programs for residents with co-morbities; History - students could collect oral history from first hand accounts of WWII, The Great Depression, etc. 

                                                         Boys and Girls Clubs

The Boys and Girls Club is a national organization that works to provide children and youth a safe, fun place to learn and grow. The Portland clubhouse is downtown but supports satellite clubs at Riverton Park and Sagamore Village.


                                                            Bicycle Coalition of Maine

The Bicycle coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists and leads the effort to make Maine better for biking.

  • Event Planning - help plan events
  • Instructors - for bicycle and pedestrian education program, we will train you to teach
  • Lead rides
  • Photography - take photos at our events                                              

                              Casco Bay HS, Riverton and East End Community Schools

Casco Bay High School

  • Internship help for juniors - juniors at CBHS are required to complete 20 hours of an internship, help is needed coordinating and monitoring their progress in internship
  • Teaching assistants - help planning expeditions for students
  • Students with specialized knowledge/background - to offer ideas based on experience/expertise/culture and help with expedition classes
  • Listeners - needed to listen to students projects proposals and offer guidance and feedback
  • Tutoring - after school math help and "Make it Happen" program help
  • Intensives Assistants - needed one week in January and one week in April, students take intensives instead of electives that are 8 hrs a day 5 days a week

East End Community School - K-5

  • "Rise & Shine" Assistants - to help with 40 minute morning program to start kids day 8:15 am, new topic every 10 weeks ie. yoga, hula hoop, soccer club, activities help and suggestions are needed. volunteer 2 to 5 mornings a week depending on your schedule
  • Classroom reading help - listen to students read, guide and ask questions to help them understand. Any time of school day could work, help needed all day long
  • Americorps Volunteers - Needed 1 and 1/2 hours a day during school week, you can get $ towards student loans in this position

Riverton Elementary - Pre K-5

  • Americorps volunteers - 1 hr. a day once a week tutoring kids, big focus on math
  • "Parent Academy" Assistants - Thursday and Friday evenings 5:30-7:30, program to help teach parents how they can support curriculum at home with kids, childcare help needed along with family dinner help that is held at 6:30pm
  • Lunchtime club assistants - 11:30-1:30 Monday through Friday, can do as little as 1 shift a week. Help plan and lead activies for kids

The Community Coordinator invites you to think of others ways you would like to work with any of these schools


                                                                Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities empowers and strengthens individuals and families of all faiths, by providing innovative, community-based social services throughout Maine.

Volunteers needed in the following areas:

  • Employment Services - 6-20 hrs/week, min 3 month commitment. Assist refugees to find emploument and build job readiness skills
  • Affidavit of Relationship - min. 10 hrs/week, min. 6 month commitment. Help refugees and asylees to reunite with family members who remain overseas awaiting safe haven, sometimes after many years of separation
  • Case Aide Volunteer - 6-20 hrs/week, min. 3 month commitment. Assist case managers in providing direct case management support services for the newly arrived refugees and survivors of torture
  • RIS Mentor - Mentors are matched with refugee and asylee young adults to assist mentees reach their educational and career goals
  • English Tutor for Older Adults - 1-2 hrs/week, 6 months. Meet regularly with an older adult refugee to help them master some basic english language skills
  • American Friends Volunteer - 2 hrs/week, 6 months. This program matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families to help ease the very difficult transition they experience when they move from their country to ours


                                                    The Center for Grieving Children

The Center for Grieving Children provides loving support to grieving children, teens, their famiies and the community through peer support, outreach and education. The Multicultural program is an after-school program for chidren who have relocated to Portland, Maine from war torn countries.

  • Volunteers - will complete a facilitator training and committ to a full school calendar year.  Volunteer once per week on Mondays or Wednesdays for 4 hours.

                                          Children's Museum and Theater of Maine

  • Education Department - working with kids and families, assisting and leading classes and shows
  • Visitor Services - work with floow staff making sure all visitors needs are met, front desk help
  • Music - share your musical talent with kids, lead sing alongs
  • Theater - work directly with children, costume and set design, house manager during shows
  • Fundraising - assist with event planning and solicit donations
  • Cultural - assist in cultural programming and projects, share a tradition, holiday or culture
  • Art - lead painting projects, face painting, create sculptures, many possibilities
  • Greenhouse - be a guide or assistant
  • Graphic Design - help design monthly calendars, brochures, and flyers to advertise events
  • One day events 
  • 200 hour internships available - can self design

Opportunities for service learning are endless, they are very open to new ideas and projects. 



                                                  Conversational English Class

The purpose of the Conversational English Class is to provide practice in conversational English for Adult English Language Learners, some of whom read and write English but have difficulty speaking. Classes are held at the Whole Foods in Portland from 5:00 to 6:30pm on Thursdays.

  • 1.5 hours/week commitment for 8 to 10 weeks throughout the semester

                                                   Deering High School Study Center

The Deering High School study center is a safe and supportive environment open to all students in grades 9-12 in need of structured academic support. The students who utilize the center are in danger of not graduating due to failing grades and suffer from generational poverty with no academic safety nets.

  • Tutors - for reading and math (basic, algebra 1 & 2, geometry). 1 hr. once or twice a week, Tues & Thurs afternoons, 2:15-3:15

                                               Environmental Health Strategy Center

Environmental Health Strategy Center works to prevent cancer, learning disabilities and reproductive harm by getting toxic chemicals out of everyday products through community organizing and science based advocacy. At the same time they work to create a more sustainable economy by developing safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, like plastics from Maine wood chips and potato waste.

  • Outreach
  • Community Organizing
  • Event Planning
  • Research Projects
  • Fundraising


                                                               Garbage to Garden

Garbage to Garden is a recycling initiative in Southern Maine. For a small monthly fee they provide members a clean composting bucket to fill, and then swap it out each week with a new one. When you compost with Garbage to Garden you are helping keep organic waste- the primary component of trash out of our landfills and incinerators. You are also reducing atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.The recycled waste is used to renew our soils, and to generate green electricity through anaerobic digestion technology, with no harmful byproducts. There are many service learning opportunities available and they are open to ideas.

                                                 Greater Portland Charitable Foundation

Greater Portland Charitable Furniture Foundation is a volunteer based non profit organization helping those in need establish a home. Many opportunities available for service learning partnerships.


                                                           Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is committed to the development and uplifiting of families and communities, not only to the construction of houses. We help build, renovate and repair decent affordable houses worldwide.

                                                   Hardy Girls Healthy Women

Hardy Girls Healthy Women's (HGHW) mission is to provide girls with services that help them experience equality, independence, and safety in their everyday lives. A Girls' Coalition Group is a space where girls can feel safe, free to express themselves, socialize, and dig deeper into issues that are relevant to their lives, particularly during the adoloescent stage.

  • Be a "Muse" - Coalition groups are run by two co-facilitators (Muses). A muse is someone who supports and listens to the girls, without judging but rather nurtures their learning. Groups usually have 8-10 middle school girls. Must attend 3 hour orientation and commit to 1 hour a week during school hours


                                                           Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based which creatively integrates running.

  • Assistant Coaches - assist a head coach at one of the Girls on the Run sites 1.5-3 hours/week for 12 weeks, you can commit both weekly program sessions or committ to only one day a week
  • Running Buddies - Complete the end of season 5k race with a girl in the program
  • 5k Event Volunteer - Help out at this one day event in the fall or spring
  • Committee Work - Behind the scenes work with events, 5k, grants or fundraising
  • Site Liaison - Servce as link between GOTR-ME and the program site. Help with the registration process, identifying potential coaches, transporting supplies to the site, reserving practice space and more
  • SoleMates - This charitable running team for GOTR-ME raises money to support the program. You can can pursue goals such as running a marathon or completing a triathlon, individually or as a team to raise money for GOTR
  • Administrative and Logistical Support - Provide administrative and/or IT support to GOTR staff


                                                     Good Shepherd Food Bank

The Good shepherd Food bank establishes partnerships with others concerned about ending hunger here in Maine. We have maintained solid relationships with Maine's food industry and have obtained millions of pounds of food each year. In addition to distributing food to Mainers in need, the Food Bank is leading a statewide effort to combat the root causes of hunger by engaging in advocacy, nutrition education, and strategic partnerships. 

  • Advocacy
  • Nutrition education
  • Outreach
  • Packing Food

                                                    Jewish Community Alliance

The Jewish Community Alliance is a nonprofit organization serving Southern Maine and combines programming and fundraising for the Jewish Community. It's mission is to build Jewish community locally, in Israel and throughout the world. The JCA develops, promotes and supports diverse programs, education and services.

  • Food Pantry - help staff the food pantry and work with customers and restock Tues and Thurs 9-3
  • Food Pickup - Pick up food for food pantry weekly at Wayside in Portland. Also looking for someone to drive to Biddeford weekly and pick up food Good Shepherd Food bank
  • Kosher Meals on Wheels - driver needed to deliver meals once a week on Mondays for about an hour
  • Senior Lunches - help prepare and deliver these
  • Friendly Visitor Program - visit people who can't get out of their homes, see if they need assistance with anything, or just spend time with them
  • Shabbat on Wheels - Deliver Shabbat meals to nursing homes
  • Preschool - assist in preschool program

                                                           Learning Works

Learning Works is a dynamic community-based organization. This social service agency assists young children, at-risk youth, immigrants and low income families. Help staff any of Learning Works' programs.

  • English Language program - provides language instruction, one on one tutoring for enrolled students and cultural literacy skills for new immigrants/refugees
  • LearningWorks Afterschool - serve as a teaching assistant in an extended learning opportunity around Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) for 2nd-5th grade at 4 schools in Portland and 2 schools in Biddeford
  • Study Center - provides computer access, homework assitance and volunteer support for middle & high school students
  • Service Works - Provides opportunities for juvenile offenders to fulfill court-ordered community service requirements and learn life skills
  • Youth Build - Mentor a student working toward his/her GED



                                              Maine Citizen's for Clean Elections

MCCE is a nonpartisan organization that works in the public interest to advocate for, increase public support for, defend and improve the Maine clean election act and related campaign finance law.

  • Summer/Fall 2014 Interns - to recruit and motivate teams of volunteers to work on activities designed to strengthen the Maine Clean Election Act and other campaign finance reforms through education and advocacy outreach.
  • Research & Politics - research the role $ plays in government and elections and analyze where it comes from, make political predictions and generate reports and databases
  • Outreach - use information learned through research to organize events
  • Advocacy - for strong campaign finance laws
  • Business research - analyze MCCE business,do research and present ideas for improving processess/strategies

Students and Faculty are welcome to personalize their own internship or service-learning experience, MCCE is very open to ideas and possibilities.


                                                            Mainely Girls

Mainely Girls is a statewide non profit organization with a two part mission: To work with rural communities to assist them in focusing on girls' needs in a positive, preventative, proactive manner; and to work on the state level to bring about positive change for girls.

  • Book Club Facilitators - Needed to start book clubs for girls in 3 different age groups, grades 4-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 for at least one semester or a full academic year. Meet once a week or every other week.

                                                    Maine Veterans Home

MVH works closely with the US department of Veterans affairs (VA) to ensure the six MVH facilities are constantly updated to provide care for Maine's hero's and their families with the dignity and respect they have earned. Below is a list of volunteer opportunities and we are very open to suggestions for other service learning partnerships.

  • Arts/Crafts                                         
  • Escort/Transport
  • Visiting/Reading/Music
  • Event Helper
  • Appointment Drivers
  • Gardening
  • Delivering mail


                                           Maine Volunteer Lawyer's Project

The Maine Volunteer Lawyer's Project assists low income people in navigating the justice system by providing free assistance, information and legal representation.

  • Client interviewing - assess client needs over phone and determine eligibility for services (training required)
  • Family court assistants - attend civil matters in court and interview clients before they meet with attorneys
  • VL Project assistance - develop training materials, publications etc. and write reports

                                                          Make it Happen

Be part of an exciting program for English Language Learners in grades 6-12 of Portland Public Schools!

  • Academic Coaches - be a positive role-model to a student and provide academic support and engage in activities with students that promote critical thinking, goal-setting and organizational skills. Meet once a week with a student between 8am and 5 pm for minimum of 2 hours. Time based on location and availability


                                              Parkside Neighborhood Center

The Parkside Neighborhood Center has served residents through programming, housing, organizing, and advocacy. The Center does much of its work in collaboration with community partners such as Portland Adult Education, Spiral Arts, Head Start, the Portland Police Department, and USM. It works in tandem with the Parkside Neighborhood Association.

  • Night Light after school program - assist with academic support and educational activities one afternoon a week from 3-5:30 for minimum of 3 months

                                                Partners for World Health

Partners for World Health is a non-profit organization based in Scarborough Maine that is committed to helping reduce medical waste while improving global health. They specialize in recycling and reprocessing medical supplies that have been discarded and repurposing them to help other countries receive the health care they deserve.

  • Warehouse help - help pick up, sort and organize these medical supplies and make a difference in our environment and help improve health care throughout the world.


                                                  Portland Adult Education

Portland Adult Education has a number of opportunities available to work with immigrants and English language learners.

  • Learning Lab - assist immigrants and English language learners in navigating computers and software that help them practice English
  • Discussion Groups - support conversation in English by leading discussion groups
  • Classroom Aides - assist teachers in the classroom once a week for 2 hours
  • Tutors - work one on one with students who want more practice in English, reading, writing or conversation once a week for 1 hour

                                                      Portland Gear Hub

The Portland Gear Hub is a non-profit shop powered by camp Ketcha and the Community Bike Center in the Portland YMCA. They sell used and refurbished outdoor gear and bikes to support the community and youth development programs at Camp Ketcha and the CBC.

  • Sorting/Pricing Inventory
  • Volunteer Mechanics
  • Bike Benders - clean bikes, sort and clean bike parts, strip bikes, replace brake and shift cables, patch or replace tubes
  • Workshops - help facilitate or facilitate you own workshop about bike mechanics and information

Open to ideas for Service Learning projects


                                                    Portland Food Co-op

The Portland Food Co-op will be a grocery store, owned by members and open to the public, that will offer a wide selection of high quality and fairly priced local, organic and natural foods and household products. They are are dedicated to supporting local farmers and producers, serving their community, and building the local economy. They will be opening their retail store this fall at 290 Congress St. in Portland. There are many opportunities for service learning partnerships.

                                               Portland Housing Authority

Portland Housing Authority amdinisters HUD public housing and Section 8 housing programs. Together with its community partners, the PHA provides and expands affordable housing and services that improve the quality of life, build community, enhance safety and promote personal success for the people they serve and the neighborhoods in which they reside.

  • Study Center assistants - these centers offers afterschool homework help, college, job and scholarship application assistant, academic mentoring, and supplemental extracurricular edcuational opportunities when possibe. Average age of attendees is 12. 1 to 2 hour a week commitment fro 8-10 weeks throughout the semester. 


                                                    Portland Mentoring Alliance

Portland Mentoring Alliance has provided adults and young people a unique opportunity to share their lives, experiences and talents. Mentors share their skills, experiences, talents, and wisdom with students looking for college, career, and personal guidance. This program is based at Portland High School which is home to 1,000 students, who come from 41 countries and speak 26 different languages. Mentors serve for a minimum of one year.

  • Mentor - meet 1 hour per week for one year at the location and time decided upon you and your mentee

                                                 Preble Street Resource Center

Preble Street Resource center is a multi-faceted social service agency that serves hungry and homeless Portlanders through food, casework, and many programs.

  • Resource Center Soup Kitchen - serves warm, nutritious meals to 250-400 people three times a day every day of the year. Help prepare, serve, and clean-up for three hour shifts: 7-10am, 10:30-1:30pm and 4:30-7:30pm


                                                  Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald house provides an affordable "home away from home" for the families of children receiving medical care in the Portland area.

  • Weekend Warriors - act as house manager on a weekend shift 5pm Fri-3pm Sun. Shifts can be split. Attend to guests needs, check ins, answering phones, housekeeping, paperwork
  • Teen Ambassador Program Advisors - mentor a teen ambassador, create marketing materials to recruit ambassadors, host orientations, oversee social media page - Full year commitment 5-8 hours per month and attend 10 of 12 meetings
  • Guest Chef - Provide home cooked meals for families staying at house, up to 5 volunteers
  • House Volunteer - same duties as weekend warrior, several hour shifts available during week
  • Fundraising & Business Development - Organize events to raise $ for RM house, evaluate ROI, statistical analysis and offer suggestions for better business strategies
  • Back of the house volunteers - great for interest in running a non-profit, volunteer management, recruitment, help set up trainers and speaker at RM house among other things

If you're interested in an activity that is not listed above, the house manager is very open to other possibilities and ideas.




The RedCross provides compassionate care to those in need.

  • Disaster Relief - help staff storm shelters, support house fire victims, caseworkers to help victims with next steps, liasion between victims and social service agencies
  • Mental Health Volunteers - help people in need with emotional health issues
  • Health Services Volunteers- Must be a CNA, EMT, Paramedic, LPN, RN, Nurse Practitioner or Physician. If you want to volunteer but don't have licensure you can shadow someone who does
  • After Care Follow up - call people who have received RedCross services and follow up with them about how things are going and if they have any other needs
  • Veterans Services Volunteers - to staff veterans clinics throughout the state
  • Class Facilitators - RedCross will train you to teach educational classes they offer such as, CPR and First Aid, Babysitting, Disaster preparedness, Fire safety etc.
  • Volunteer Process - Help RedCross with their extensive volunteer process and recruit volunteers
  • RedCross Club - USM students develop your own RedCross chapter right here on campus. Perform at least 3 fundraising activities a year and keep some of the proceeds for club activities
  • International Humanitarian Law Volunteers - teach kids about the Geneva Convention and how RedCross responds and can help during times of war
  • Tracing Services Volunteers - Asisst refugess in locating missing family members they have lost touch
  • Administrative Support - Needed at many levels
  • Door to Door Educators - Door to door community outreach for smoke detector and fire prevention safety

The RedCross has significant interest in possible Service Learning partnerships and are open to any ideas you may have for this, or for a community service or internship opportunity.



                                                      The Root Cellar

The Root Cellar freely offers programs and services to those families and individuals that live in Portland communities. Our programs are designed to servie our neighbors in a way that not only meets needs but gives people a hand-up so that they, in time, can help themselves.

  • Auction Committee Members - help plan and facilitate annual fund raising auction
  • Front Desk Help - needed Tuesdays 9am-1pm and Thursdays 1pm to 5pm
  • After School Kids Programs - Volunteers needed daily Wednesdays and Fridays 3 to 5pm
  • English Teaching Assistants - Volunteers needed Mondays and Wednesdays 9:30am - 12pm and Mondays 1pm to 3pm
  • Dentists/Hygienists/Dental Assistants needed as available

                                                          Salvation Army

Proposed areas of service include:

  • Senior Center Helpers
  • Music and Arts teachers - for youth programs
  • ESL Teachers
  • Translators - who speak French or Farsi
  • Grant Writers
  • Volunteer Coordinators
  • Seasonal or Special Events



Strive serves youth with developmental disabilities and works to provide them with the skills they need to integrate into society and to be independent.

  • Education assistant - work as a guest instructor, teaching assitant, or teacher in the evening education series Mon 5:30-7pm or Wednesday 6-8pm
  • Friday night dance social - help out and hang out Friday's 6-9pm
  • Tween program volunteer - help out and hang out with 11-14 year olds 3:30-5:30pm mon through friday

                                                         The Telling Room

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Focused on young writers ages 6-18, they seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for their students.

  • Workshop Series - assist with workshops at the writing center
  • Field Trips - Assist with field trips hosted at the writing center - Monday through Fridays 9:30-12
  • Special Events/Readings - Help plan and run the events
  • WordPlay - Wednesdays 1:30-4:30, open to anyone who wants to free write, write with a purpose or just write for fun - assistants needed
  • Residencies - 6 to 12 week writing sessions held at area schools where students geta  chance to publish their work in a 6x9 professional grade chapter book - assistants needed
  • Office Work


                                                     Westbrook LEARNS

Westbrook LEARNS offers after school literacy programming for K-4 students.

  • Enrichment Aide - help support children in our enrichment classes
  • Lab Aide - help support children in our reading and writing labs offered daily


  • Special Events committee members - help organize community events, parties and fundrasiers
  • Volunteer Drivers
  • Childcare/preschool volunteers
  • Facilities Volunteers
  • Wellness Ambassadors - assist members on the wellness floor (gym)
  • Group exercise instructors
  • Water aerobics instructors
  • Clerical/computer volunteers - assist administrative staff
  • Prime Time assistant - play with kids while their parents enjoy the prime time program
  • Lifeguard - sign up for life guarding class then volunteer
  • Water safety instructor aide - take the WSIA course then assist instructors
  • Teen & sports supervisors - chaperone a program or lead one
  • Sports coach
  • Community Garden - they have a plot of land ready to go just need help planning and cultivating it
  • Youth program - afterschool mentoring/tutoring for kids from 5 different middle schools
  • Help revamp volunteer process - create handbook, research
  • Volunteer coordinators - Pineland (New Gloucester) and Biddeford YMCA branches
  • Event planning & Fundraising
  • Resident Programming - help plan activities/programs for men that reside in mens dormitory
  • Social Work assistance - help with residential issues, counseling, suppport services etc.
  • Nutrition - Offer nutrition counseling, support, and/or classes to members
  • Counselors in Training - help with summer program that teaches teens how to be camp couselors

There are so many opportunities to get involved at the YMCA and they are open to other possibilities.



Unum Scholars Program

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Are you a USM student (graduation date May 2015 or later) with 60 completed credit hours by September 2014 and at least a 3.0 GPA?

If so, you may be interested in the new Unum Scholars program and a part-time Client Data Specialist opportunity now available at Unum!

Learn More

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