ProsperityME, the organization that helps Maine immigrants understand the American financial system, celebrated a year of exponential growth with a community block party Sept. 14 at Thompson’s Point featuring drummers from Akwaaba Ensemble and Jamaican food from Yardie Ting.

Since 2021, the 14-year-old Portland-based nonprofit grew from serving 1,200 people a year to 2,000 people a year. Over 15 months, the number of staff members has grown from six to 25.

“That exponential growth is because of the exponential need in the community for the services of ProsperityME,” said board chair Tara Jenkins.

ProsperityME offers free financial education, career and business development, housing assistance and college scholarships.

“Imagine living in a country for over 30 years and all of a sudden you are in another country,” said Roseline Souebele, an immigrant from the Republic of Congo who took a ProsperityME financial literacy class. “This course was a tool to help me navigate my life here. I was able to make smart decisions with regard to financial actions, how to build my credit score and how to save and get ready for retirement.”

This year, ProsperityME gave Souebele a Prosper Scholarship, making it possible for her to study nursing at Southern Maine Community College.

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“Immigrants need to have this tool to start a new life in the United States,” said Rina Renoguwa, who was a financial professional in Gabon and took a ProsperityME class to understand the differences in the two systems. “We access this knowledge for free, I want to say thank you to the people who make this possible. We are going to follow in your footsteps. We are going to do things like this. I would like to become a businesswoman. And I hope to give back to you as much as you’ve given me.”

Community leaders from The Opportunity Alliance, The Immigrant Resource Center of Maine and Avesta Housing were honored for their partnerships with ProsperityME.

ProsperityME Founder and Executive Director Claude Rwaganje told the story of how he met former Avesta Housing president Dana Totman, who retired this year.

“He came to find me when I was in a tiny office in Riverton,” Rwaganje said. “Our students used to take two buses to Riverton. And he offered us a space that brought our program downtown. We stayed with Avesta Housing for six years, paying zero dollars.”

Totman said, “I’ve loved ProsperityME from day one.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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