UM's Rural Institute Awards 2016 Community Investment Fund (MT UCEDD)

August 1, 2016

In an ongoing effort to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities into their communities, the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) offers an annual Community Investment Fund (CIF) grant to organizations that advance this mission. The RIIC maintains a CIF Review Committee comprised of individuals with disabilities and a few others who make the funding decision.

Isaac Baldry, a committee member, made the poignant observation that this grant serves to teach people about the importance of inclusion. He noted that schools unwittingly promote the separation of students with disabilities. He stated, "As a person with a disability, if you went to regular classes, there may not have been the same expectations as to what you would do and how you would participate. Maybe it was okay if you just showed up. This can affect everyone's view of what inclusion is. Sorry to say, but maybe the majority of people just don't know better." It is the committee's hope that the CIF grant will be used to reverse this misinformation.

This year, the committee reviewed nine applications. The 2016 grant for $2,400 was awarded to Eagle Mount-Great Falls, an organization which provides therapeutic and recreational activities for children and adults with physical, mental, emotional and/or social challenges. The funds will be used to expand the "Tippy Toes: Movement, Music, and Play" program, a class offered in six-week sessions that includes infants and toddlers, with and without disabilities.

Eagle Mount describes the importance of the program: "As an organization known for working with disabled individuals, it [is] very powerful to incorporate children and families who do not have a disability, giving families in our community the opportunity and choice to enjoy the same places and activities as anyone else. This program [is] a great way to increase the understanding and acceptance of diversity."

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