December Newletter

December Newletter

“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.” –Desmond Tutu
“Empowerer” Spotlight! 

We’ve decided it’s a great time to start appreciating our amazing team members of Empower Montana! Each month we will highlight a superstar trainer or volunteer to celebrate and share their amazingness with you all. For our frist spotlight we have chosen to highlight the amazing Kasey Cooper! We met Kasey during the Big Sky Freshman training her first year of high school. Kasey was inspired to come to our summer camp to become a youth trainer and has been a stellar leader ever since! A favorite memory from her time with us is when she and her new friends went canoeing at camp and she jumped out and had to swim all the way back to shore. Kasey has loved making connections with amazing people through her work with us and we sure have loved getting to know her! This fall Kasey has been a life saver and has helped at every training we needer her for and attended all of our Youth Advisory Council meetings. Her goal moving forward with us is to lead even more trainings and help raise people’s awareness of issues in the world. Kasey rocks a leadership balance of relatable and respectable and she is always thoughtful and caring. Since she just graduated high school (congratulations girl!!!) we look forward to continuing to lead with her.
This time of year we get filled up with gratitude. Gratitude for our coworkers, our dedicated volunteers, the wonderful people we connect with at workshops, and lots of gratitude for our partnerships with other organizations across the state! We thought it would be good to take this time to share some of this gratitude with you all.
Youth and Schools
One of Empower Montana’s longest standing partnerships is with Big Sky High School and Missoula County Public Schools. Each year Empower Montana gathers a large group of our amazing trainers and heads into the halls of Big Sky to train the entire freshman class…in the fall and the spring! In our workshops with the students we focus on appreciating diversity and our own identities as well as building relationships across group lines. Big Sky staff like , Amy Miller, Mike Marcincowski, Becca Carson, and Principal Natalie Jaeger have been instrumental in this long special relationship with the school.

The Monday after Thanksgiving break we all got up early to once again work with the freshman class, almost 300 students! Even though we have been doing these trainings at Big Sky for so long they are always different and still exciting for us. This time we received lots of positive feedback. One student wrote, “I know it will allow my friends and I to be able to talk things out without using violence.” It’s comments like this that hit home the importance of our work at Big Sky and inspires us to replicate this tradition at more schools across Montana!

Business and Organizations

Our staff has a long history of working with the YWCA Missoula on racial justice advocacy, youth empowerment, and more. We are looking forward to three of our favorite collaborations coming up soon. Next week Jesse Jeager and Roe Erin will be working with all of the YWCA staff and volunteers to discuss how to continue to bring racial justice to the communities they serve. We can always count on having good learnings and making lasting connections with the lovely staff and volunteers who work for one of our favorite partner organizations!

EmpowerMT and the Montana Racial Equity Project were thrilled to partner again to provide the community training Building Bridges To Dismantle Hate here in Missoula. This training provided participants with an opportunity to develop skills and strategies to dismantle hatred towards historically disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed persons. Participants gained awareness of key definitions and history and also developed the ability and equanimity to recognize and deal with racism, bigotry and prejudice whenever encountered. Over the past year we have really appreciated getting to work together to bring these workshops to our Montana communities. It gives our organization so much strength and inspiration to do this work with another amazing organization at our side!
Empower Montana is thrilled to announce that we are launching our first ever after school program for LGBTQ+ 4th-7th graders! With the increase in our youngest students beginning to identify as LGBTQ+, we at Empower Montana are creating a new program to support the needs of this age group. We envision a program that will provide a safe space for youth to learn, make friends, and build pride in themselves.

We are reaching out to educators, families, and community leaders to spread information about this opportunity to our young students. If you know a young person who might benefit from this program, we would love if you could pass this information along with our contact information.

The group will meet for five weeks on Thursdays from 4-5:30. Our first meeting will take place at our office (1124 Cedar St. Missoula, MT 59801) on Thursday January 11th.

For more information contact Claire Michelson by calling our office at 406-541-6891 or at

2018 MLK Youth Art and Essay Contest

EmpowerMT is pleased to once again coordinate the annual MLK Youth Art and Essay for the 2018 MLK Jr. Day Community Celebration.  This is a wonderful opportunity to engage Western Montana’s young people in thinking critically and expressing themselves creatively about the impact of Dr. King and other Civil Rights Leaders. This is also a powerful way for youth to call action to the current issues impacting their communities and their lives.  For contest details, please see the flyer.

News of Interest

Native teens form council to bring Missoula-area youth together

The little ones have round dances with silly games and the adults lead numerous organizations. But Lynell Shepherd said Native American teens find themselves caught between the two, not quite fitting either place and sometimes feeling isolated because they are divided among so many area schools.

“There is a bunch of people doing events, but it’s mainly adults and the youth don’t really get a say in what happens or not,” said the 16-year-old who is Blackfeet and Crow.

A new Missoula Native Youth Council that formed this fall hopes to bring teens together to give them more say in their schools and their community while giving them positive and safe activities.

Children of all ages are welcome to attend meetings and serve as representatives from their campus, but only high school students can vote on matters before the council. (Continue reading here)

Missoula to name new elementary after Jeannette Rankin

A century after Missoula-born Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to U.S. Congress, two elementary schools under construction will be the first in Montana named after the pioneering suffragist and pacifist.

Earlier this month, Kalispell trustees voted that a new South Side school should carry her name. At the same time in Missoula, students and parents of Cold Springs Elementary pondered possibilities and voted on their favorite choices for their new building set to open in the fall. Nearly half of the 735 ballots supported Jeannette Rankin over Maloney Ranch, Miller Creek, Mountain View or Three Rivers. (Continue reading here)
Arizona Native women condemn Trump for ‘Pocahontas’ remark

An Arizona legislator was among several Native American women who gathered Friday at the state Capitol for a news conference condemning President Donald Trump’s reference to “Pocahontas” earlier in the week. 

“As indigenous women, we are outraged that the president of the United States would use Pocahontas’ name in such a disparaging manner, ” Benally said. “More so, it was in front of our Code Talkers, revered war veterans who were gathered there to be honored at the White House.” (Continue reading here)  **Learn more about the history of Pocahontas here **

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