The Missoula-based Headwaters Foundation has announced a six-year, $16.7 million initiative focused on building resilience in children up to age 5 in Montana.
The Zero to Five initiative will seed locally driven community collaboratives in three areas — healthy pregnancies, positive parenting, and school readiness. To that end, the foundation will invest $5.2 million to establish a program office at the University of Montana that brings together the expertise of the UM Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, and the Childwise Institute and serves as a go-to resource for community collaboratives and key stakeholders working to strengthen programs serving children and families in the state.
Developed after a year of meetings with community and Native American leaders, as well as those working to improve the lives of children in the fifteen western Montana counties served by the foundation, Zero to Five will fund sixteen community collaboratives — one in each county plus a collaborative focused on Native Americans. This year, Lewis and Clark, Silver Bow, Flathead, and Missoula counties will receive implementation grants of $200,000 each to begin their work, while planning grants of $50,000 were awarded to Lincoln and Mineral counties to prepare for implementation grants they will receive in 2019. Collaboratives in the other communities will come online gradually.
"Headwaters is honored to launch Zero to Five on behalf of Montana's children," said Headwaters Foundation CEO Brenda Solorzano. "When we asked the communities we serve how we could best allocate our resources, they told us without hesitation to focus on the children. They also told us to let communities lead the process. We’re proud to say we’ve done both."