Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (MT UCEDD) Announces Inaugural Award Recipient of the Community Investment Fund

October 2, 2015

To promote community inclusion and provide leadership and advocacy opportunities for Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) members, the University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) established a Community Investment Fund (CIF) and invited CAC members to administer the fund. For 2015, $2000 was made available through the CIF for innovative projects or programs to help people with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities alongside people without disabilities.

A work group facilitated by an RIIC staff member and comprised of seven young adults with disabilities and four parents of young adults with disabilities met monthly via conference call to develop CIF parameters, an application process, and an application form. They designed and disseminated advertising materials through websites, social media, listservs, and public television stations. Work group members thoroughly reviewed and discussed the completed applications they received, weighing each proposed project's focus on genuine inclusion and potential to touch multiple lives in positive ways. As part of the review process, group members generated lists of additional questions for staff to pose to the applicants before rendering a final decision. In August, the group's recommendation for funding was approved by Martin Blair, Executive Director of the RIIC, and the successful applicant, Summit Independent Living Center, was notified.

Summit, in collaboration with several Missoula, Montana-based partners, will use the cash award for "Missoula LIVE!!!", a ten-week communication-through-improvisation program that will culminate in a live comedy/variety show. Organizers will recruit up to 30 cast members with and without a disability. Summit ILC staff says, "By collaborating with other community organizations and including people of different ages, backgrounds and abilities in the cast and crew, as well as having a final program that is held at a public venue and promoted to the public as a whole, ‘Missoula LIVE!!!' exemplifies interdependent living not just for those participants with a disability but more importantly for the entire community."

This year's funding cycle ends December 30, 2015, at which time CAC members will review Summit's final project report and begin preparations for the 2016 competition.

Since 1978, the University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities has worked to improve the skills, abilities, and quality of life of people with disabilities in rural communities, including their families and those who serve and support them. Rural Institute initiatives focus on promoting independence, productivity, integration and community inclusion in rural and frontier communities.

For more information, please contact:
Kim Brown, University of Montana Rural Institute
52 Corbin Hall
Missoula, Montana 59812
Phone: 406-243-4852