Powerball for All

This week’s blog post is written by guest author Chris Rogeski, a Board of Directors’ member of Aroostook Aspirations Initiative.

With the Powerball  reaching up to 1.3 billion dollars, many Americans are heading out to buy tickets, even though they know the odds are not in their favor, just in case they might get lucky enough to hit it big and be a millionaire.  Oh what we could do with all that money; we could pay off bills, help friends and family, travel, buy things we always wanted, and give back to worthy causes.  Some would take the big cash payout now, but others would take the money over the long term, saving, spending and giving back in smaller, steady, reliable bites.

What if I told you any of us could have the latter? What if I told you that everyone could be all but guaranteed at least $1 million dollars in extra income over their working lifetimes to help them live more comfortably, save more, spend more, and give more to worthy causes in their communities.  What if I told you that by setting enough of that aside, everyone could reasonably expect to retire with several million dollars in the bank?  Wouldn’t that make life in Maine truly “the way life should be”?   If this sounds like a dream world, it’s not, it is actually well within the reach of almost every Mainer.

How could Mainers effectively guarantee themselves, their kids and their grandkids an extra $1 million dollars you ask?  Well it’s actually relatively simple: make sure we all get the education and skills necessary to earn a better living.

How much does what we make for a living impact our future finances?  We can quote state and government data all day long, but why not just do the math?  Assuming one works 40 hours per week from the age 20 to 65, making $7.50 or $50 per hour, they would earn a total of $0.7M and $4.6M respectively, not accounting for any raises or promotions.  That is almost $4 million dollars more between making $7.50 an hour and making $50 an hour.  Making $50 an hour roughly equates to $100,000 a year, which you might think is not within reach for most of us, other than doctors, lawyers, and pharmacists, but if you think about it, most Mainers regularly pay mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and welders $50 an hour or more for their services. Also remember that if you have a household of two working adults, it becomes easier to get to a higher average hourly income.

However, just because something is simple, does not mean it is easy.  While the old adage of going to college to get a better job is something that most Mainers understand, we let far too many of our young people stop short of their potential.  Maine has a strong high school graduation rate of about 87 percent, and 62 percent of those students go on to start college, but only about 52 percent of college students complete their degrees within six years.  Which leaves many asking “what can we do to help more Mainers get to college, stay in school, and graduate ready to enter the workforce and earn a decent living?”

 That is where a program like Aroostook Aspirations Initiative can really make a difference.

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative not only provides financial support to their scholars, but they provides a wide range of programming and support to help them stay in college, learn and grow as young professionals, network, find internships, find mentors, and graduate ready to enter the workforce.  Aroostook Aspirations Initiative is working to build relationships with high schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations, and community members to get a better understanding of the needs and opportunities available to those who want to live and work here in Aroostook County. They are also working to build an Internship Hub that will help provide meaningful opportunities for students to gain relevant work experience, and to show businesses the potential new hires that could help them grow or maintain their staff.  They also organize a county-wide community service day that helps students and their towns and cities come together to better their communities and build strong ties between community members.

Aroostook Aspirations Initiative currently works with 30 students going to college in Aroostook County and has ambitious goals to grow their programming to help as many students a possible. We all know the expression that it ‘takes a village to raise a child’, and the same is true when it comes to ensuring the education and success of our young people.  Aroostook Aspirations Initiative needs the support of all of us to ensure their success.

I got involved with Aroostook Aspirations Initiative as a volunteer and board member because I know from 10 years personal experience and observation the substantial impact that programs like theirs have on the lives of scholars, their families and their communities. While winning the Powerball would be great, there is a much more likely opportunity for us all to make a difference in the financial future of our own lives and the lives of our family through supporting programs like Aroostook Aspirations Initiative.

We all have something to give, whether it is our time, our talents, our community connections, or our financial resources. If you would like to learn more about what Aroostook Aspirations Initiative is doing in your community, and how you can support their mission, please visit www.GauvinFund.org.