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Community Investment Fund

The application period for 2019 funding is now open!

Do you have an interesting idea or project to promote inclusion for people with disabilities? Would a small amount of start-up funds help you get your project off the ground? Applications for the Community Investment Fund are now being accepted...complete and return your application before the September 1, 2019 deadline. Please note: due to University contracting requirements, successful applicants will be required to have liability insurance and either Workers’ Compensation coverage or a Workers’ Compensation exemption certificate. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by October 15, 2019.

Directions for using PDF form: Open the PDF file and save it to your desktop. Fill out the form and save it again. Then either print a hard copy of the application and submit it by mail or fax, or attach the PDF form to an email and submit it electronically.

For more information, please contact:
Kim Brown
University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities
33 Corbin Hall
Missoula, Montana 59812
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Voicemail: (406) 243-4852

2018 Community Investment Fund Recipients

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.

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. QLC DSPerados Softball Team

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.

Congratulations to the 2018 CIF recipients!       

2017 Community Investment Fund Recipients

The 2017 Community Investment Fund applicant field was strong and several requests were for less than the full amount of money available, so selection committee members chose to split the $2000 award between three separate projects.

The A.W.A.R.E., Inc. - Bonner School Garden Group received funding to purchase gardening supplies and build accessible raised beds for their inclusive community garden group. Project goals included: teach students with and without disabilities gardening and harvesting skills; develop their understanding of where food comes from; foster appreciation for nature; and support students with emotional disturbances in getting along with peers their age. The group met each week for two months to harvest fall vegetables and break down the garden plots for winter. Each group had a snack time, gardening mini-lesson, work time, and social play time.

Kati Burton, MS, RDN, received funding for “Just One More Bite: An Educational Series for Families with Special Eaters.” The Missoula-based series featured four 90-minute free workshops with a different speaker each week. Children’s activities, led by local organizations, took place in an adjacent room. Workshop topics included: Healing Techniques to Facilitate Feeding, Supporting Your Child’s Emotional needs to Foster Healthy Eating Habits, Occupational and Speech Therapist’s Approach to Feeding Difficulties, and Food Intolerances vs. Allergies.

Partial funding was also awarded to WORD (Women’s Opportunity & Resource Development) for the Summer Arts and Leadership Camp. SALC provides a safe, structured, educational, and stimulating environment for children ages 8-14, who have been affected by lower socio-economic status. During the six weeks of camp, children are exposed to a variety of activities and experiences, which they might not otherwise have access to. SALC is a free camp for the families and children it serves. Camp is funded through partnered organizations such as WORD, Missoula County Public Schools-District 1, and many private donations and foundations such as the Margaret V. Ping Foundation. SALC has offered a consistent safe place these children need and can depend on for 24 years.

Congratulations to the 2017 CIF recipients!

UM’s Rural Institute Awards 2016 Community Investment Fund

In an ongoing effort to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities into their communities, the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities offers an annual Community Investment Fund, a grant available to organizations that advance this mission. The RIIC maintains a CIF Review Committee, a body comprised of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their family members. The Committee decides to whom the CIF award should be given.

Eagle Mount’s “Tippy Toes: Movement, Music, and Play” program was the unanimous winner of the 2016 CIF grant. Eagle Mount is based out of Great Falls, Montana. Through therapeutic recreation, they offer children with and without disabilities the opportunity to grow, learn, and play together in an inclusive setting.

Seven families were able to connect and learn alongside their children with help from the Community Investment Fund. Jill Van Son, the Tippy Toes program coordinator, recounted a story of success from the program this year: a family enrolled their two young children in Tippy Toes. One child was a person with a disability while the other was not. Family members had never seen the siblings play together without any inhibitions or barriers. They left the program with the renewed realization that their children can play together with small modifications.
The CIF award money was used to purchase adaptive equipment and other supplies as well as providing Jill and her colleagues the chance to network with other organizations in the area regarding inclusive activities.  Thank you to Eagle Mount and the important work they do.

The story behind the award

Isaac Baldry, a committee member, made the poignant observation that Community Investment Fund serves to teach people about the importance of inclusion. He noted that schools often promote the separation of students with and without disabilities. He writes: “…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, teachers and students, with and without a disability. 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 fund truly inclusive opportunities.

2015 Community Investment Fund Recipient

In 2015, Summit Independent Living Center (ILC) was the inaugural award recipient of the Community Investment Fund. Summit ILC, in collaboration with BASE (a project offering a safe place to learn and display the arts and advocacy), Missoula’s Homegrown Comedy (a group of local comics), A Paper Crane (an education-through-arts organization) and the Crystal Theatre, used the small cash award for “Missoula LIVE!!”, a ten-week communication-through-improvisation program that culminated in a live comedy/variety show. Organizers recruited over 30 individuals with and without disabilities to participate in the improv workshops, and of these 17 went on to become cast members in the final performance. Summit ILC staff wrote, “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 was held at a public venue and promoted to the public as a whole, ‘Missoula LIVE!!’ exemplified interdependent living not just for those participants with a disability but more importantly for the entire community.”