September E-News

September E-News

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”
-Sydney J. Harris
As we gear up for the changing of seasons, EmpowerMT is also welcoming in some change of our own! As some of you know our beloved Katie Koga will be going to school to persue a career in nursing. We are so excited for her but will miss having her in the office as much! We are also welcoming a long time EmpowerMT leader to our staff as our Administrative Assistant! Read more about Katie and Sydie and check out our back to school program reminders.
Six Things We’ll Miss Most About Seeing Katie Koga Less: 
  1. Her Fabulous “Grandma Chic” Style
  2. Her Friendly Reminders to Clean the Office
  3. Her priceless facial expressions to opressive or generally annoying comments (AKA Katie Koga side eyes)
  4. Her artistic skillz, knitting updates, and overall crafting genius
  5. Her boss coordination of racial justice work in the community and beyond
  6. Her composure and kindness while keeping our EmpowerMT ship sailing smoothly!
Welcome to the Staff: Sydnie Sinclair!

This month we are so grateful to welcome Sydnie Sinclair to our staff at Empower Montana. This may be a new role for Sydnie, but she has been working with us for seven years already as a youth leader! Sydnie got connected with our organization as a 6th grader in our after school program EPIC. Since then she has amazed us year after year with her ability to lead her peers in creating safer and more inclusive schools. Sydnie works especially hard to dismantle racism and raise awareness about teen suicide rates and bolster prevention efforts. 

Sydnie recently was recognized as one of the top 25 leaders under the age of 25 in Montana. The award celebrates leaders from Montana who are challenging the issues in their communities to create positive change. “They are leaders who are challenging the status quo, taking risks, and breaking new ground in Montana.” Congratulations to Sydnie for this well deserved award!

This fall Sydnie is entering her first year at University of Montana where she will be studying pre-medicine with the intention of heading to veterinarian school. Sydnie will be working with us through the work study program and taking on some of our dear Katie Koga’s office management tasks.

We are so excited to see more of Sydnie now that she’s part of our staff! Read more about Sydnie’s award here, and check out heramazing senior project!

Back to School, Back to Empowerment!
Heading back to school can be a stressful time of year! New teachers, classmates, homework and even schools! That’s why we’re here to remind you of the resources we offer here at Empower Montana! Here is an overview of the work we do within Montana’s schools:

EPIC Empowering People Inspiring Change:

EPIC is an after school program in which students have a place to be themselves without judgement and grow as leaders. In EPIC, students will learn, teach, and problem solve around issues of mistreatment in our schools and community.EPIC is offered after school starting September 26th at Hawthorne and Lowell Elementary as well as Washington, C.S. Porter, and Meadow Hill Middle Schools. For more information visit our website or contact Claire Michelson at

Youth Forward: 

Youth Forward is a safe and supportive drop-in space for youth 13-18 who identify as LGBTQ+. Youth Forward takes a  holistic approach to meeting the needs LGBTQ+ youth through weekly activities such as interactive discussions, peer-to-peer support, leadership development, guest speakers, and community engagement.Youth Forward meetings every Wednesday from 5:00-7:00pm at Empower Montana located at 1124 Cedar Street.  For more info contact our staff at 406-541-6891 or email

Also, stay tuned for information about an upcoming pilot program for youth in grades four through seven who identify as LGBTQ+ or want to learn more about supporting their peers. The series will run one night a week for five consecutive weeks and will focus on positive identity development and fostering support in and out of school. The tentative dates are set for Thursday from 4:30-6pm from October 19th through November 16th.

School and Educator Workshops:

Another fundamental part of our youth work is the workshops we offer to students and educators. We work alongside Montana’s youth and educators to implement age-appropriate violence prevention programs for youth grades k-12, and train Montana educators in effective prejudice and violence intervention practices. EmpowerMT youth programs are a sought out training resource by schools across Montana; since founding in 1998 thousands of youth and educators have received EmpowerMT training to build safer learning communities. To read more about our offerings visit our website!

Upcoming Events

EmpowerMT’s Advanced Leadership Training in October

EmpowerMT is excited to announce that we will be holding another Advanced Leadership Training October 13th and 14th from 9am to 4pm each at the Missiona Valley United Methodist Church (70715 Hwy 93 approx.mile marker 39.5).

The Advanced Leadership Training is an intensive workshop that teaches participants skills necessary for providing influential leadership in ending discrimination, reducing inter­group conflict, and building inclusive communities and organizations. This training is an excellent professional development opportunity as well as being the first step in becoming an official EmpowerMT volunteer trainer. For more information visit our website.

Suicide Prevention Week

Project Tomorrow Montana, Missoula City-County Health Department,  Institute of Health & Humanities,  Providence St. Patrick’s Hospital, Tamarack Grief Resource Center, Missoula Vet Center and other local partners have worked together to create a week of Suicide Prevention September 9-15th. For more information view the flyer or check out theFacebook event.

EmpowerMT LGBTQ+ Panel and Discussion

Empower Montana is teaming up with some awesome LGBTQ+ adults to put on a panel about being a queer person in Missoula’s community. We’re inviting all LGBTQ+ and questioning youth and their parents/allies to join us for a night of knowledge and experience sharing. We want this to be a safe space to ask questions, and learn from our neighbors of all ages. The panel is scheduled for the evening of September 20th, from 5:00 – 7:00pm.

News of Interest

School Agrees To Pay Transgender Student $120K In Gender Discrimination Settlement

A Minnesota charter school agreed to pay a family $120,000 after the parents of a 5-year-old transgender boy accused the school of violating their child’s rights by failing to protect him against bullies, CBS reported Tuesday.

The civil discrimination lawsuit charges Nova Classical Academy with gender discrimination.The boy’s father said the teachers initially tried to be accommodating, but the school’s leaders got in the way. To save time and money, the two sides settled rather than going to court, with the school agreeing to gender neutral uniforms, policy changes to allow students who don’t identify as their birth gender to express themselves, and staff training on how to best accommodate transgender students, in addition to paying $120,000 to the family. (Continue reading here)
Why the Myth of Meritocracy Hurts Kids of Color

Brighton Park is a predominantly Latino community on the southwest side of Chicago. It’s a neighborhood threatened by poverty, gang violenceICE raids, and isolation—in a city where income, race, and zip code can determine access to jobs, schools, healthy food, and essential services. It is against this backdrop that the Chicago teacher Xian Franzinger Barrett arrived at the neighborhood’s elementary school in 2014.

Recognizing the vast economic and racial inequalities his students faced, he chose what some might consider a radical approach for his writing and social-studies classes, weaving in concepts such as racism, classism, oppression, and prejudice. Barrett said it was vital to reject the oft-perpetuated narrative that society is fair and equal to address students’ questions and concerns about their current conditions. (Continue reading here)

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.