Despite recent progress, Maine continues to struggle with too many children who are growing up in poverty, unsure where their next meal will come from.

But an innovative collaboration between the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Community Foundation, the Maine Community Action Association and Maine Equal Justice Partners has come together to make a change.

Called Invest in Tomorrow, the initiative sets real and aspirational goals to tackling the epidemic of childhood poverty in Maine.

In 2019, Invest in Tomorrow looks to lift 2,000 children out of poverty, increase work among low-income families by 160,000 hours and increase earnings for those families by $5 million. Overall, the initiative is setting the goal of cutting childhood poverty in half in 10 years.

The goals may sound daunting, but we absolutely know what policies work and how we can work together to reduce childhood poverty.

I speak from personal experience. My family has found those opportunities with the help of smart policy and good state programs.

I grew up in poverty, my family was off and on state assistance throughout my childhood. We moved so much that I stopped trying to keep count. I went to 10 different elementary schools. There was very little stability on our lives.

As an adult, I knew that I wanted a better, more stable life for my children, and I tried to give them that life. I married their father and he joined the Army, hoping to provide us all with a better life. Unfortunately, in early 2010 our marriage ended. I packed up my kids and what we could fit into a minivan and I came home to Maine because this is my home. Unfortunately, my parents couldn’t help us, and within a couple of months, my kids and I found ourselves homeless and moving into a shelter.

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