Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (MT UCEDD) Announces Recipients of the 2018 Community Investment Fund

July 26, 2018

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) in 2015 and invited CAC members to administer the fund. Since that inaugural year, small awards (up to $2000) have been made available annually through the CIF for innovative projects or programs to help Montanans with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities alongside people without disabilities.

In 2015, a committee facilitated by a RIIC staff member and comprised of young adults with disabilities, parents of young adults with disabilities, and representatives from several partnering organizations 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. Each subsequent year, committee members update the advertising and application form. A subcommittee screens completed applications to ensure the proposed projects are truly inclusive and have reasonable budgets. Applications that pass the screening are sent to the full committee for review, scoring, and discussion. As part of the review process, committee members generate lists of additional questions for staff to pose to the applicants before rendering a final decision. In June, the committee's recommendations for funding are sent to Martin Blair, Executive Director of the RIIC, for approval and successful applicants are notified.

The 2018 CIF award will be shared by two recipients, Flathead High School in Kalispell and Quality Life Concepts in Great Falls. Flathead High School will use the money to help purchase supplies for their Braves Coffee Company School-based Enterprise. This new business will feature students with and without disabilities working side-by-side to plan, market and operate the coffee company. Several community partners are collaborating with the high school to provide personnel training, discounted supplies, and mentoring.

Quality Life Concepts will apply their award toward expenses for their Community Recreation Co-ed Softball Team. The 40-person team includes clients with disabilities served by QLC, staff, and community members. All team members play, rotating throughout the game so that everyone has a turn at defense and at batting. They also have a team photographer who takes pictures for the team's Facebook page.

This year's funding cycle ends December 15, 2018, at which time CAC members will review final project reports from Flathead High School and QLC, and begin preparations for the 2019 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 partner with 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
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 406-243-4852