Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Muskie School receives grant to lead systems change in Portland high schools

Nellie Mae Education Foundation Logo

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has chosen the Muskie School to serve as the Lead Community Partner of its District Level Systems Change Initiative for the Portland Public School District. The initiative, which has been underway since 2012 in four New England communities (Portland, Maine; Sanford, Maine; Pittsfield, New Hampshire; and Burlington/Winooski, Vermont), involves the restructuring of public high school education to make it more student-centered.

The role of a Lead Community Partner is to ensure that meaningful parent, youth, and community engagement occurs within and outside of District decision-making during the systems change process, and beyond. In this role, Muskie’s youth and community engagement (YCE) staff will work to build mechanisms throughout the Portland Public School District for parents, students, and community members to exercise leadership and have authentic voice in education, with an emphasis on groups who traditionally have been underserved or marginalized.

Key staff of this project include policy associates Erica King and Emily Thielmann and YCE specialist Pious Ali.

Nellie Mae Education Foundation nominates Pious Ali for the Lawrence W. O'Toole Award

Pious Ali

Pious Ali, Youth and Community Engagement Specialist in Cutler’s Children, Youth, and Families Programs, has been nominated for the Lawrence W. O’Toole Award by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Pious is one of six nominees from the New England states.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation believes that student-centered learning – where learning is personalized, engaging, competency-based and not restricted to the classroom – will prepare young people to graduate high school ready to contribute to their communities and succeed. This award is given out each year to an individual, school district, or non-profit that has exhibited great leadership in moving student-centered approaches to learning forward in the New England region.

The winner will be selected by online voting and will be awarded a $100,000 grant to help advance student centered learning!


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MYTC 2014 Celebration

Colby Swettberg, May 2014, MYTC

Every year the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative brings together youth and adult partners from around Maine to celebrate the year's achievements and milestones.

MYTC’s fourth annual celebration dinner was held at the Brunswick Hotel and Tavern on May 13, 2014. Over seventy young adults, adult partners, professionals, legislators, adoptive families, and friends came together for an evening of fun, renewed connections, learning, and good food.

The importance of mentors in the lives of young people was the theme for the evening. The keynote speaker, Colby Swettberg, Executive Director of Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring in Boston, was introduced by Jacob Hills. Ms. Swettberg talked about what good mentor-mentee relationships look like for youth in foster care and led a discussion about best practices and challenges to bringing youth and mentors together.

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