Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, Maine’s oldest bank, has announced it will provide a $5,000 scholarship donation to PSL Services/STRIVE, a South Portland-based nonprofit assisting people with emotional and intellectual disabilities. The donation will support STRIVE WorldWIDE, a first-of-its-kind, interactive online program teaching independent living skills to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.

STRIVE WorldWIDE was launched in 2019 to address a lack of accessibility to STRIVE U, a comprehensive two-year program aimed at teaching its students the necessary skills to live independently. While STRIVE U is limited in the number of students it can serve, STRIVE WorldWIDE has a virtual format that is able to reach more people in underserved rural communities, serve a broader age group and offer students the flexibility to learn at their own pace. The program has already provided online classes to nearly 300 students with disabilities including Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X syndrome, ADD and anxiety.

“STRIVE WorldWIDE has been a groundbreaking addition to our program offerings,” said PSL Services/STRIVE Associate Director Peter Brown. “We are so grateful to Saco & Biddeford Savings for supporting our efforts to provide accessible education to neurodiverse learners across Maine, and for helping to give a voice to students who otherwise would not be heard.”

Courses run for five weeks, with each week focusing on its own topic or unit. Each has a live, online seminar and a self-paced, interactive online classroom. Examples of the post-secondary programming include “Time Management & Organization,” “Social Skills & Healthy Relationships” and “Citizenship & Social Justice: How to be a Part of Your Community.”

“As a mutual bank, we believe it is our obligation to support people in the communities we serve,” said Bob Quentin, president and CEO of SBSI. “STRIVE WorldWIDE is giving their students an opportunity to become independent, active members of these communities, and SBSI is proud to support that mission.”