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March 27, 2020

Portland nonprofit will eliminate 248 Maine jobs

The Council on International Educational Exchange said Thursday that it will end 248 jobs in Portland, part of a wider, global shutdown of its programming.

CIEE, a nonprofit founded after World War II that sends 15,000 Americans abroad to study, intern and teach, said it also eliminated 107 other U.S. jobs and 300 internationally. It operates 63 sites in 42 countries. 

In a press release on Thursday, CIEE cited the “global spread of COVID-19, [which] has literally brought the world to a halt. Like millions of organizations, large and small, CIEE has paused active pursuit of our mission as we heed the guidance of international leaders and medical experts who have asked that everyone, everywhere, stay in place to give healthcare professionals the time and space to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The nonprofit is headquartered at 300 Fore St. in the Old Port neighborhood.

Leslie Taylor, communications manager for the nonprofit, told Mainebiz in an email Friday that the nonprofit is “hopeful that when we are able to resume operating our programs we will be able to begin rehiring and increasing staffing levels."

The nonprofit is just one organization struggling with the shutdown as the economy struggles to adjust to the spread of the coronavirus. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported a spike in unemployment claims, with more than 21,000 in Maine, up from 600 the previous week.

CIEE said it’s possible it would be able to resume operations with help from the federal government’s stimulus plan approved earlier this week.

“We are hopeful that many of the provisions in the stimulus legislation now pending in Congress will allow CIEE to more quickly secure financial stability and to quickly begin rehiring and increasing staffing levels as soon as possible,” CIEE said in the press release.

The nonprofit’s “mission has been to advance global peace and harmony by bringing the world together through experiences that bridge cultures, teach intercultural skills, and humanize international relations.”

In addition to the 15,000 Americans it sends abroad, CIEE welcomes some 30,000 international exchange visitors to the U.S.

The nonprofit relies almost exclusively on revenue earned through its programs.  

“In this unprecedented time, as a global solidarity holds us all in place, CIEE’s mission to bring the world together must be temporarily suspended in the greater interest of global health and safety,” CIEE said. 

“We are heartbroken for the negative impact this necessary action will have on so many of our local and global employees in the days and weeks to come,” the release continued.

The organization worked with Maine’s Congressional delegation to ensure the “highest possible levels of support” for staffers.

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