The Challenge

For nearly 80 years, United Way of Eastern Maine (UWEM) has worked in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo, and Washington counties to improve the lives of people in Eastern Maine by mobilizing the caring power of people and communities. The UWEM service area is home to 22% of Maine’s population and encompasses 40% of Maine’s geographic area. It consists of 14,300 square miles—a land region greater than then states of Vermont and Rhode Island combined. The population per square mile varies greatly among the five counties, presenting unique challenges in addressing the needs of our communities.

Today, UWEM is the largest private funder of education, income, and health services in the five-county area. Over the past five years, UWEM has provided over $8.1 million in grants to nearly 60 non-profit agencies working throughout our service area. We strive to make sure children are ready to learn, families are safe and self-sufficient, and seniors remain independent and active. We accomplish our results by bringing together subject experts, business leaders, donors, neighborhoods, and members of local non-profit agencies.

While grantmaking will always be a core function of UWEM, we’ve also expanded to provide leadership for collaborative initiatives and strengthen volunteerism among community members. These activities bring together human, financial, and strategic resources to help create the building blocks of better lives for all. Much of what influences our health happens outside the doctor’s office—in our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Education and income are prime examples of how factors outside the healthcare system have a measurable impact on our lives; low education rates and inadequate income translate directly into premature death, more disease, and more money spent. Prioritizing education and economic opportunity is an important strategy to save lives, improve health, and reduce spending on avoidable illnesses.