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Community Life + Organizations

Portland's size 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 founder of Indigo Arts Alliance, 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 Trail. 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 or national service projects like AmeriCorps and Foster Grandparents.

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

Did we miss something? Suggest a resource.


Civic Engagement Opportunities

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. You can also check out current volunteer opportunities with the City or make a donation.

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

For more than 30 years, the Center for Grieving Children has been an oasis of loving support for children, teens, young adults, and others experiencing loss and grief. The services of the Center are free, and made possible because of trained, dedicated volunteers and community support

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. There are many volunteer opportunities.

ITN Portland offers dignified, affordable rides to seniors and visually impaired people within a 15 mile radius of Portland. You can donate money, a car, or volunteer as a driver

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 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.

The Portland Community Health Center provides primary and mental healthcare 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. Portland CHC welcomes donations.

The Portland Housing Authority, which provides affordable housing and services, runs three neighborhood study centers for students who might otherwise have trouble finding a place for quiet study and homework help. The study centers primarily serve students in grades three through 12, but they are also a resource for community members and Adult Education students. Find out more about volunteering.

The Portland Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other serious illnesses. Families can stay in proximity to the treatment hospital, be comfortable and cared for during their stay, and enjoy home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, and a place for children to play. There are many volunteer opportunities.

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, from Meals on Wheels to Veterans Helping Veterans, while their RSVP program helps members aged 55 and over 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.

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 collects and distributes food to 47 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, and other social service providers. You can help by donating money, food, or time.

Economic and Cultural Organizations

ProsperityME offers financial literacy courses and one-on-one financial counseling for individuals and families. Their services are open to all refugees, immigrants, asylees, and low-income individuals in Greater Portland and Lewiston/Auburn, Maine. 

Friends of Congress Square Park is a non profit organization that maintains, beautifies, and holds over 200 arts related events over the course of their season in Congress Square Park. Their mission is devoted to creating a welcoming, safe, supportive, and fun atmosphere in the heart of Portland's downtown area. 

Hour Exchange Portland 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.

The Maine Charitable Mechanics Association is a community organization that supports and builds networking for Maine's makers and arts and cultural entrepreneurs. MCMA co-sponsors non-profit events, rents space for private functions, and looks for partnerships and volunteers in the local community.  MCMA is located at Mechanics' Hall.  Mechanics' Hall includes a membership library and hosts MCMA maker lectures and gatherings, as well as member-sponsored exhibits and performances.  

Portland Buy Local is a thriving independent community and business alliance, with over 450 nonprofit and business members. Find out more about volunteering, becoming a member, and Portland Buy Local events.

Portland Downtown 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.

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 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

EqualityMaine works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Maine through political action, community organizing, education, and collaboration. Find out how you can get involved

Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and well being of girls and women. Their mission is to create opportunities, develop programs, and provide services that empower them. You can volunteer to help.

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.

Pride Portland! brings together Portland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied community to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQA movement and raise awareness of the work that still needs to be done. Pride Portland! sponsors the city's annual Pride Festival and Parade, and welcomes volunteers.

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 member, volunteer, 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 Kids Code is an after-school program for middle school students interested in coding and technology in the Greater Portland area. Students focus on creating interactive stories, making games, and on the intersection of technology, art, and music.

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, literacy classes, and “personal enrichment” offerings such as dance, crafts, or cooking courses. Enrollment is open to everyone, and there is a great need for volunteers to assist in classrooms and to work as tutors with students who are learning English as a second language. 

Portland Public Library is Maine’s oldest and largest public library system and is the most visited cultural institution in Maine, serving 675,000 visitors annually at four locations and a bookmobile. The library offers over 300,000 books, audiobooks, musical recordings, movies, and digital resources, and access to the collections of the world’s great libraries, plus robust internet access and free wireless connectivity. They present a wide variety of lectures, classes, exhibits, programs and performances for all ages.

Portland Society for Architecture's membership includes architects, engineers, landscape architects, design professionals, and individuals committed to the protection and enhancement of those aspects of urban design which contibute to Portland's economic activity and cultural identity. Their work includes advocacy and educational programming open to everyone. 


The Multilingual and Multicultural Center oversees Portland Public Schools' English Language Acquisition Program for students whose home language is not English. Currently, the district has over 2,200 students who come from homes where over 60 different languages are spoken, representing about 25% of the schools' total enrollment. There are many volunteer opportunities.

Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers intensive fifteen-week programs in documentary writing, radio, and photography for undergraduate and graduate students.

Side x Side, which brings innovative, creative, arts-based educational programming into Portland classrooms, offers volunteer opportunities for teachers, artists, and people with experience in the business or creative worlds. Financial donations are welcome as well. 

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland focused on strengthening the literacy skills of young writers ages six to eighteen. Learn more about volunteer opportunities or make a donation.

Community Media Organizations

Maine Public 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.

Portland Media Center is a nonprofit organization that operates the public access television station, Channel 2, for the City of Portland and a community television station, Channel 5, for the greater Portland area. Their mission is to educate, connect, inform, and facilitate creativity through various aspects of video production. 

WMPG is Portland’s community radio station. They also host the Blunt Youth Radio Project, an award-winning weekly call-in talk show that's staffed by free and incarcerated high school age youth from the Portland area. Learn how to make a donationbecome an underwriter, or volunteer.

Professional and Leadership Opportunities

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.

The Maine Women’s Fund is a philanthropic and leadership community for women in Maine. Learn more about the organization and how to get involved.

SCORE Maine, 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.