“stay strong through your pain / grow flowers from it / you have helped me / grow flowers out of mine so / bloom beautifully / dangerously / loudly / bloom softly / however you need / just bloom” –Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey
Happy June everyone! Time is flying by and we are excited for some summer fun! Here’s what’s been happening here at EmpowerMT since we last checked in.
This month we are so honored to celebrate our EmpowerMT leaders who graduated! It seems like graduating high school is becoming more and more difficult as school budgets get lower and achievement standards get higher. That’s why we are so grateful to work alongside you powerful leaders and work to make school a more empowering experience for all! We are seriously so proud of you!!! Congratulations and we hope you always are part of our EmpowerMT family near and far!
Congratulations to our graduating leaders! Top row: Tate Bucio, Melissa Koch, Darian Rehder, and Jared Burkhart Bottom row: Sydnie Sinclair, Jessica Beers, and Ingrid Biehl
We are always honored and excited when the Social Justice Fund NW travels to Missoula for a site visit (which is always a good sign) but this time Heidi traveled to Seattle as a panelist on Leadership In Organizing at the Social Justice Fund NW’s Grantee Summit. Other panelists were Laura Isiordia from CAPACES Leadership Institute (http://www.capacesleadership.org/) and Llondyn Elliot of Momentum Alliance (https://www.momentumalliance.org/). New friends, new organizational crushes, and much inspiration came from the discussion around it means to be a leader and how we can build movements that last for the long haul. Much gratitude to the Social Justice Fund NW for their belief in youth leadership and EmpowerMT!
Business and Organizational Work
Our team had the pleasure of creating another new partnership working with Missoula’s Housing Authority to strengthen their staff’s customer service. The Missoula Housing Authority (MHA) works to provide quality housing to low and middle income families in the Missoula area. The MHA was created in 1978! Jesse and Katie led the agency through a workshop that identified what inclusive and effective service looks like, how it’s impacted by internal and external forces, and ways to individually and organizationally grow and improve. We had a lot of fun facilitating this group and starting conversations on strengthening the delivery of services for such an important community need. Thank you for having us, MHA!
EmpowerMT’s High School Advanced Leadership Camp!
Can you believe it’s time to start registering for camp?! We are so excited for our annual three day leadership camp for high school students and educators at Camp Paxson! The goals of this 3-day leadership camp is to prepare a cohort of students, staff, and community members to return to their communities to co-lead violence prevention and prejudice reduction workshops in K-12 schools across Montana throughout the year. It is our belief that every young person deserves a safe and welcoming learning environment. Learn more on our website! Advanced Leadership Training
EmpowerMT will be rescheduling our Missoula Advanced Leadership training for the Fall of this year. We want to reach the most people as possible! The training will be held on September 8th and 9th. For more information see our website!
News of Interest
Blackfeet Researcher Leads Her Tribe Back to Traditional Foods
Researcher Abaki Beck, 23, has vivid childhood memories of helping her mother, grandmothers, and aunts pick traditional foods and medicines on the Blackfeet Nation in northwest Montana. Because her great-grandmother passed down her vast knowledge of the tribe’s traditions, Beck learned the importance of eating these foods at an early age. (Continue Reading Here)
Follow Jesse’s Trip to Cambodia!
EmpowerMT’s very own Jesse Jaeger will be traveling in Cambodia with his wife, and Big Sky High School Principal, Natalie Jaeger from June 13 to 30. This is part of the Mansfield Center Exchange Program that brought Hanty Ung and Aung Lwin to Missoula last fall. Jesse and Natalie will be visiting non-profit and education organizations in Phenm Penh and Siem Reap during their trip. You can follow what they are up to here: https://jaegersincambodia.tumblr.com/
County Jail to get Mental Health Therapist, Study on Native American InmatesAlthough it’s overflowing with inmates, there’s room for a few more people in the Missoula County Detention Center. Tuesday, the Missoula County Board of Commissioners approved hiring a second therapist, as well as contracting with Native American consultants who want to study Missoula’s incarcerated Indian population. (Continue reading here)
EPIC stands for the group's values: Empowering People, Inspiring Change. EPIC is a youth leadership club offered after school for middle school-age youth. EPIC has been empowering young leaders in the Missoula community since 2003! The EPIC program seeks to break isolation and build allies across group lines, understand the causes of oppression, strengthen the connection to school through mentorships, and increase skills & confidence in diffusing conflict.
Youth Forward is a way for LGBTQ+, Two Spirit, & gender diverse youth to connect with peers, discuss issues relevant to their lives, explore identity, and learn more about the ever-expanding LGBTQ+, Two Spirit, & gender diverse community and how other identities intersect.
Be You Crew was formed after recognizing the need for a space where elementary and middle school-aged youth can explore gender identity and sexual orientation and develop allyship skills.
EmpowerMT recognizes that being a student of color in a predominantly white school is a very isolating experience and therefore wants to give BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth an opportunity to connect with each other. This group will center around giving students of color an opportunity to feel supported in their racial identity, learn a more racially diverse and inclusive history, and take action against mistreatment and discrimination.