SPOTLIGHT ON GRANTEE: Wayfinder Schools' Passages Program

SPOTLIGHT ON GRANTEE: Wayfinder Schools' Passages Program

The Fund had the opportunity to visit the Wayfinder Schools' Passages Program, meeting with faculty and students at their Camden Offices way back in April.  It was a great visit with lots of sharing and learning with little ones creating their own adventures and educational opportunities as we talked!

Wayfinder Schools was established through the successful merger of Opportunity Farm (founded in 1910 as a Residential Program for at-risk youth in southern Maine) and The Community School, founded in 1973 as Maine's first alternative high school.  Their mission is to provide relational learning programs that provide students with the skills and experience necessary to discover their strengths, connect with their families, practice personal responsibility and contribute to their communities, and which culminate in the awarding of a high school diploma from the state of Maine. 

Rebecca Doyle with daughter Elena, Passages Student, and Erica Gate, PassagesRebecca Doyle with daughter Elena, Passages Student, and Erica Gate, Passages


Grant funding from the Maine Women's Fund supports the Passages program for teen parents, which provides individualized instruction to students in their own homes, thereby eliminating the need to secure daily childcare and transportation in order to attend school. Students work to complete course work in 24 core skill areas related to academics, parenting and life skills, including everything from social studies and English language arts to budgeting, nutrition and child development. Each Passages teacher has 8-10 students within a 50 mile radius and teaches all the core skills to each of their students at whatever pace the student sets. Teachers model positive parenting behaviors building trusting supportive relationships with their student and child. Role modeling is reciprocal as the teachers find great inspiration in their students. Home-based instruction, along with online support, is complemented by monthly life-skills workshops with other young parents and children in the program, as well as service learning work in the community with transportation and childcare provided by Passages staff and volunteers. Service learning work allows students to gain new confidence, community connections and job skills.

For 2014, Passages exceeded its goal to serve 50 students with 100% of students receiving all the key program components. Passages serves 55 students in 8 counties and they hope to be in all 16 in the next five years. Their graduation rate for teen parents is at 61% by the age of 21.  Nationally, that average is 50% by age 24 for teen mothers, making the Passages Program extremely successful by national standards. Thirty-seven percent (37%) go on to post-secondary schooling right after high school and 55% are working.  In the last three years alone, 30 students have graduated. Passages has found great success in creating a foundation for students to achieve their life goals. It was wonderful to hear the students that met with us talk about their goals, from being a carpenter and automotive expert to moving up the medical professions ladder from an EMT to a doctor.  It was a pleasure to meet with such accomplished young women who are far exceeding the expectations that others have set for them, and hear from the Passages teachers and administrators who are supporting them on their journey. This spring, Nikki, a Passages graduate, generously shared how Passages has impacted her life in a short video shared at the 2015 Leadership Luncheon. 

Posted 05.15.2015 under Press Releases