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Annual Review FY 2020

2020 Annual Review Cover thumbnailLetter from the director

2020 was an exceptional year -- we had our share of uncertainty, sadness and frustration. But the year also provided opportunities to demonstrate our creativity, expertise and humanity. The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities quickly found ways to provide service, research and training activities in formats requested by community and government partners. For example, the MonTECH program developed and implemented COVID-safe practices so they could continue to provide assistive technology to Montanans; one of the first AT programs in the U.S. to do so. RTC:Rural published information briefs to help policy makers and service providers understand the economic and social impact of COVID on people with disabilities who live in rural America.

Though COVID dominated our attention, it didn't hinder our work. We set up technology in our homes so we could reach record numbers of people through video meetings and conferences. We started new projects to better understand community strengths and system barriers faced by rural Americans. We came up with innovative ways to connect with research participants and partners around the U.S.--the people who drive our efforts. We've always practiced the value that "people are at the center of our work" and 2020 provided an opportunity to once again prove that point.

Visit us on social media or our website to learn more about how we are building "collaborative community partnerships that support opportunities for all."

May you enjoy a peaceful, healthy and fulfilling 2021!

Martin E. Blair, PhD
Executive Director


  • The Rural Institute has 55 active projects and programs
  • We mentored 43 trainees across 14 disciplines
  • 47 UM students took a class sponsored by the Rural Institute
  • We published 18 reports, articles and book chapters
  • We shared 28 conference presentations and posters
  • We trained 5,665 people in Montana and across the country
  • Rural Institute staff members participated in 48 local, state and national committees, councils and boards


13% Evaluation

15% Education

27% Service

45% Research

FY 2020 budget = $6,095,572

Projects and Programs


Montana Access to Pediatric Psychiatry Network (MAPPNet)
Evaluates impact of statewide pediatric telehealth program

Healthy Montana Families Home Visiting Needs Assessment
Identifies the need for home visits for pregnant women & families with children 5 and under

Montana Title V Needs Assessment
Assesses Montana’s maternal and child health population needs, and the capacity to meet those needs

Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Supports Evaluation (MOMS)
Evaluation and research for Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Support project

Montana Primary Care Office Needs Assessment
Assesses the need for and access to primary healthcare services across the state

Achieving Success by Promoting Readiness for Education and Employment (ASPIRE)
Evaluates impact of independent living and employment supports on families

School Climate Transformation: MBI in High Need Areas
Evaluates effectiveness of PBIS in high-need schools


Leadership training and education focused on family-centered healthcare

Egypt Disability Services Study Tour
Strengthens the capacity of Egyptian university staff to administer Disability Support Centers

Community Oriented Living Well
Expands the delivery of Living Well with a Disability curriculum to rural Montanans through CILs

Trains speech language pathologists in rural and tribal communities

Diversity Fellowship Program
Graduate fellowship for culturally-diverse students


MonTECH: Montana’s Assistive Technology Program
Supplies technology to support independence across the lifespan

Montana Family to Family Health Information Center
Provides family-focused healthcare information

Healthy Community Living
Offers independent living workshops focused on health and community living skills

Montana Disability and Health Program
Promotes health-related policy and practice initiatives

All of Us Outreach in Montana
Recruits participants for national health outcomes research

Deaf-Blind Project
Gives resources and assistance to local school systems

NCDB: Transition Outcomes for Youth with Deaf-Blindness
Provides training to improve transition outcomes for youth

Children’s Special Health Services: Montana Transition Resources
Provides transition-to-adulthood health resources for youth, families and providers

Movin’ On in Montana
Offers a college experience for high school students with disabilities


Home Usability Project
Promotes community participation of adults with disabilities

Out and About
Evaluates community intervention to promote health and wellness

Partnering with Women with Disabilities to Develop a Health Information Website
Creates an online health information resource for women

Texas Model Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Systems
Evaluates ways to improve the health of people with SCI

Loneliness and Its Relation to Health in People with Spinal Cord Injury
Identifies how loneliness impacts the health of people with SCI

Effort Capacity and Choice
Investigates the link between energy exertion and quality of life

mHealth App Development
App that features the Living Well with a Disability curriculum

Montana Pediatric Medical Passport (MP2)
Builds an app for healthcare information and decision making

Rural Community Living Development
Develops a peer-to-peer training program CILS can use to address issues and initiate change

Understanding Personal Assistance Services Experiences in Rural States
Explores barriers to PAS delivery, and designs an intervention to address rural outcomes

Rocky Mountain Region ADA Research
Researches ADA legal issues

Expanding the Availability and Quality of Rural Data
Rural analyses of existing large data sets

Exploring Rural Disability Onset
Explores how disability evolves

Rural Access to Health Insurance and Health Care
Answers questions about health care and quality of life

Rural Resource Analysis
Maps community resources and networks

Building Networks to Expand Living Well Delivery
Scales up Living Well to rural hospitals

Personal Assistance Services in Rural America
Explores and addresses rural PAS outcomes

Rural Transportation Options
Explores accessible transportation in rural communities

Rural Self-Employment
Develops and evaluates online tools for state and tribal Vocational Rehabilitation