Guest Post: Montana Campus Compact

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January 1, 2018 / Comments (0)

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 The Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) VISTA Program places full-time VISTA members with colleges, universities, schools and nonprofits throughout Montana to build capacity within the education and veterans services sectors. VISTAs help assess community needs, amplify local initiatives, and support long-term solutions to poverty. 

Twenty-six MTCC VISTAs currently serve in 11 communities across the state from Troy to Poplar, MT. MTCC VISTAs help build afterschool programs, develop educational museum exhibits, recruit volunteers to help run literacy centers, and sometimes support the expansion of a committed group of individuals to a staffed nonprofit. Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana started just this way. In 2014 a small community group formed to help several students living independently out of the Outlaw Inn in Kalispell. Montana Campus Compact placed a VISTA with this group and her service resulted in the inception of their 501c(3) status.

 

 

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MTCC VISTA Jamie Pollard, front left in yellow, helped organize an awareness fundraiser “When the Night Comes,” engaging 40 volunteers and advocates to sleep out in support of unaccompanied homeless high school students. 

 

 

In the summer of 2017 MTCC placed its fourth VISTA with the Sparrow’s Nest  – each member played a pivotal role in defining the organization’s capacity to address the issue of unaccompanied homeless youth in northwest Montana. Cat Lehnis, Claire Anderson, Molly Neu and, currently, Jamie Pollard built systems and procedures for the administrative staff to establish partnerships in the community, manage volunteers, and develop the organization’s financial capacity. Sparrow’s Nest hired its first executive director, Jerramy Dear-Ruel, during the second VISTA term in March of 2016. According to Jerramy, “Because of VISTAs, Sparrow’s Nest of NW MT has achieved many of its goals. Without their work, the incredible students, who need a steady place to live, would not be thriving at such a high level.”  

In 2016, the Sparrow’s Nest met its first goal by opening up a home in Whitefish for four students. Within the facility’s first year of operation, the organization achieved a huge milestone when Estevon Torres became the organization’s first student to graduate from high school through the program and then enroll in a four-year degree program at Montana State. Thanks to current MTCC VISTA Jamie Pollard, the Sparrow’s Nest is now breaking ground on a second home in Kalispell to provide safe and stable housing and support for residents to graduate high school and develop professional skills to help break the cycle of poverty.

Montana Campus Compact would love to help your organization grow! The priority deadline to host a MTCC VISTA is February 1. Apply now! Follow the directions to submit an online application on our website here. Contact Erin Barstow 406-243-5458 [email protected] with questions and to determine if MTCC VISTA is a good fit for your organization. 

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