HOPE Program Supporting Maine Parent-Scholars Pursuing Higher Education

September 8, 2023

As students of all ages return to school this fall, the Higher Opportunities for Pathways to Employment (HOPE) program offered through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office for Family Independence (OFI) continues to support Maine parents as they pursue higher education on the path to meaningful careers.

Since August 2021, the HOPE program has increased enrollment by more than 40 percent to a total of 542 participants currently enrolled. Eligible participants receive the resources they need to pursue higher education and training programs, including individually tailored, person-centered wraparound and nontraditional support and services.

While one of the key innovations of the HOPE program is tailoring supports to the needs of each individual and their family, several trends have emerged in the types of services and supports requested. While costs associated with education, including tuition, books, and supplies make up the bulk of assistance provided to HOPE participants, the program also provides support to parent scholars through financial assistance for:

  • Vehicle repairs: Helping students pay for unexpected and often costly expenses so they have reliable transportation for school and work.
  • Child care: Supporting students by helping with weekly child care costs so they can maintain consistent affordable, quality care for their children while they work and attend classes.
  • Reimbursement for travel: Making sure students can afford gas, tolls, or alternate transportation to and from classes and training programs.
  • Internet service: Making sure students have access to reliable, quality internet service at home to take online courses and complete assignments.

As of August 2023, 293 Maine parents have graduated from degree and certificate programs with support from HOPE. These graduates have completed a total of 319 credentials, including:

  • 236 associate degrees,
  • 184 bachelor’s degrees, and
  • 80 short-term occupational training programs.

These credentials have helped many parent scholars find employment and increase income by getting a new job, securing a promotion or receiving a raise in pay from their current employer.

In turn, the credentials earned have also led to HOPE graduates filling positions in sectors of Maine’s workforce with critical need, including entry-level health care support positions, EMT, behavioral health and recovery support, early childhood education, commercial transportation, and construction and building trades.

The HOPE program is available to parent scholars statewide, and currently has participants in all of Maine’s 16 counties.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about HOPE or applying for the program, call (207)624-4170 or email hope.dhhs@maine.gov, visit the HOPE webpage for eligibility and application information, or check out HOPE events and resources on the HOPE Facebook page.