The Maine Highlands region is a great place to live in many ways – fresh air, clean water, green spaces and friendly, small towns. But in other ways, the region can be limiting, especially for those who are now or ever have struggled with financial, personal or educational challenges. This region lacks state offices to assist people with access to programs; there aren’t a lot of educational opportunities beyond high school offered locally; public transportation is lacking; and the region has lost many of its major employers. Add to that a pandemic that cost people work hours, upset child care routines, and has parents trying to support families while also helping with students with remote learning. A lot of people who never struggled before are struggling now.

An initiative called the Maine Highlands Working Communities Challenge is hoping to hear from residents of the area about what things, now or in the past, may have prevented them from reaching their full potential so far in life. This is a region-wide effort including communities in all five area school districts, with Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft and Milo identified by the Boston FED as eligible applicant communities. The approach is regional and includes all of the communities in each of the five area school districts — Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford, Greenville and Milo. 

The Maine Highlands Working Communities Challenge includes more than 40 representatives from a variety of sectors in our region — local nonprofit organizations, town managers, school administrators, clergy, business partners and interested community residents – who have been Zooming together since last October. The Maine Highlands’ proposal competed with 21 other communities across Maine — and was selected as one of eight funded communities to address poverty, educational and workforce needs and opportunities through a competitive process aimed at creating sustainable change and improvements for residents challenged by poverty.

What challenges do you run into regularly? What kept you from going to college or trade school? Are you employed now in the way that you want to be? If not, why not? How can our region do better, so that today’s grandparents, parents, and our next generation of kids have a better shot at reaching their full potential, both personally and professionally? What would make a difference for you?

Anyone willing to spend 10 minutes completing an anonymous survey may be entered into a drawing to win one of five $150 gift cards. And by participating, you also get a voice in identifying our area’s greatest needs and how best to meet them. Your personal experiences matter, and they aren’t exactly like anyone else’s, so the MHWCC wants to learn what you know about life in this region. 

In addition to the survey, anyone who is interested may volunteer to share more of their story with the MHWCC group, but that is not required to be entered into the prize drawing. To take the survey, you can go online at

We are also offering a chance to talk with someone personally. If this works better for you, please leave a message at 207-408-8040 and we will contact you to schedule an appointment. We want to hear from everyone!