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Grade level: 9 -12

Promising Approaches

  • Service-learning and community service


Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

Required Resources

Available Resources

Snapshots of Practice in Action

Contact Information


YOUTHINK is a youth-led organization that empowers young people to make a difference in thePortlandcommunity.  The main group consists of a diverse board of 20 members representing four local schools.  YOUTHINK was started in 2003 as one of eight groups to receive a grant from the WK Kellogg Youth Innovation Fund.  The grant was created to support diverse groups of young people who wish to make lasting changes in their community.  The main goal of YOUTHINK is to promote youth-led social change and philanthropy through service learning projects, teaching board members and other community youth to “think globally, and act locally.” 

YOUTHINK makes the most impact through their youth to youth grant processes. YOUTHINK grants encourage other Portland youth to seek out problems in their community and design plans to help fix these problems.  With this, YOUTHINK is providing young people with money and the opportunity to make a positive change in their community.  Last year YOUTHINK gave out $12,000 in grant money for 10 youth-led projects.

Special Features

YOUTHINK was founded on supporting youth-led community activism.  As a group there is a strong emphasis on creating change, not providing charity.  Young people are encouraged to research the root cause of an issue they feel needs change.  By seeking out the root cause young people can really make a difference and make positive steps towards changing long term problems present in the Portland community. 

YOUTHINK is made up of a diverse group of students, not just academically elite privileged students.  Through a community mapping system YOUTHINK is sure to recruit board members and grant projects from all areas of Portland. The group also aims to find areas of the community that are of particular need and recruit members to ensure they have a fully representative board.

YOUTHINK is a youth-led organization that directly supports other young people.  Through their youth to youth grant program young people are influencing other young people to take civic action and create opportunities for change in Portland

The decisions and processes of YOUTHINK are made by youth, but also involve cooperative partnerships with community adults.  YOUTHINK promotes youth-adult partnerships and creates an environment where young people and adults can work together for positive change. 

Civic Learning Goals

Civic Knowledge

Social and political networks for making change, such as voluntary associations or local organizing

Civic Skills

  • Critical thinking, active listening, analyzing public policies, problems and assets, and understanding multiple perspectives
  • Communicating one’s position through writing or speaking
  • Planning and implementing civic action through managing, organizing, and building consensus

Civic Dispositions

  • Developing tolerance, respect, and appreciation of difference
  • Developing concern with the rights and welfare of others
  • Developing a belief in one’s ability to make a difference
  • Developing attentiveness to civic matters and a desire to become involved in the civic life of the community

Required Resources

The most important aspect of YOUTHINK is providing grant money to Portland youth. Each year money is required to supply young people with the opportunity to follow through on projects they believe will make a significant difference in their community and to support further research by YOUTHINK for future projects.  It is also important for YOUTHINK to make the community aware of the group and what they do through radio broadcasts, flyers and philanthropy events. 

Available Resources

In 2003 Portland was chosen as one of eight communities to receive $100,000 grant from the WK Kellogg foundation.  The grant was provided in support of service learning and civic action in community youth nationwide.  For grantees, YOUTHINK promotes social entrepreneurship, or creating small businesses that will turn a profit to allow for the group to be supported while giving money to the community to make positive social changes.  YOUTHINK also receives small contributions from local businesses.  

Snapshot of the Practice in Action

YOUTHINK is made up of two crucial groups and the interaction of these two groups: board members and grantees.  Here are examples of projects from both groups that make up YOUTHINK

Grantee:  A young woman involved in the Portland foster care system began research on foster homes in Maine and specifically regulations set to starting foster homes.  Through research she found that the many restrictions enforced by the state of Maine caused a lack of adequate foster care options, leading to youth homelessness.  Homelessness can be a cause for drop out and below average performance in school.  To help change this, the young woman began a workshop for teachers to help them recognize signs of homeless youth and ways to help.  Through recognizing typical signs teachers will be better able to promote the learning of homeless youth and keep more homeless young people in school. 

YOUTHINK:  The YOUTHINK board held the first ever youth philanthropy conference in Maine.  As a group, members organized and recruited other philanthropy groups and youth groups in the area and led skill building workshops.  The workshops and presentations included community mapping/identifying community needs, training/supporting grantees, fundraising skills, and grant making for social change.  One hundred people attended.

Contact Information

Ainsley Wallace (Site Coordinator
Portland Partnership, Inc.
331 Veranda Street
Portland City, ME 04103
(207) 874-8236

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy