There is more to health than health care. Affordable housing, fresh produce, safe places to exercise, quality early child care, and good jobs are all critically important when it comes to the health of Montana's residents.


Montana Healthy Communities Webinar Series and Mini Grant Opportunity

As a follow up to the 2015 Montana Healthy Communities Conference, The Montana Rural Health Initiative (a program of MORH/AHEC) is launching a webinar series and mini grants. The purpose of the mini-grants are to help communities in Montana hatch and grow projects aimed at improving the health of communities by addressing "upstream" factors that influence health. 

An idea generated through the conference was to provide mini-grants to stimulate existing efforts and create new opportunities to improve health. Projects funded involve community organizations;  different sectors such as transportation, economic development, housing and early childhood; and include health and public health entities working together to improve community health. Mini-grants are expected to be between $250-$1000. 

2016 Mini-Grant Recipients: 

  • The River Valley Farmers Market- Hardin, MT 
  • Richland County Backpack Food Program- Sidney, MT
  • Diabetes Self-Management Education- Big Timber, MT
  • Waukesha Garden Hoophouse- Helena, MT
  • Food for Thoughts Counseling Program- Red Lodge, MT
  • Chemo Care Packages- Forsyth, MT 
  • Parents as Leaders- Missoula, MT 
  • Kids in Motion: Bicycle Light Project- Billings, MT

Thank you for your submissions! 

Webinar Series

Montana Healthy Communities

The first webinar highlights the benefits and lessons learned by multi-sector partners as they implemented a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for the Big Sky Villas affordable housing complex rehabilitation project in Belgrade, MT. Watch the webinar here or view presentation slides here. 


Collective Impact in Montana, November 15th prestented by Deb Halliday

Increasingly, communities across the nation are looking to a new collaborative framework, called collective impact, to help guide the hard work of coalition building and partnership. Watch this webinar to hear how Montana communities are expanding their reach and impact through  unlikely community alliances, coordinated use of data, expanded effective practices and strategic communication. Deb used the hands-on example of Graduation Matters Montana (which is now in 58 Montana communities and has resulted in the highest graduation rate in the state’s history two years’ running!). Watch the webinar here or view the presentation slides here


 Healthy By Design, December 12, 2016 presented by Heather Fink 

Healthy By Design is a community coalition focused in Yellowstone County, MT, with a vision of making the healthy choice the easy choice. The Coalition's mission is to collaborate across sectors to promote and improve health while seeking to embrace the Collective Impact model. Priorities of this coalition are determined through a community health needs assessment process, which are then approached through system-level strategy development and improvement planning. The Community Health Needs Assessment process and Healthy By Design staff are sponsored by Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health and St. Vincent Healthcare. Discover what this coalition is up to, how the Collective Impact model is working for them, and what you may be able to apply to your own work. Watch the webinar here or view the presentation slides here. 


The Conference

The Montana Healthy Communities Conference was held on October 27th and 28th. This 1.5 day conference brought over 200 professionals from the community development and health and human services fields together to address "upstream" factors that influence health. Thank you for helping make the Montana Healthy Communities Conference on October 27th and 28th a success.  We are already hearing about new collaborations emerging from the discussions among participants. 

Next steps

  • Presentation PowerPoints:  We will post presentations to the conference website. You will receive an email notice when the presentations are available. Status: Complete
  • Small Group Discussions:  We will compile notes from the small group sessions and you will receive a report on the themes and ideas that emerged. Status: Complete
  • Webinar Series:  The Montana AHEC/Office of Rural Health will host webinars over the next year related to topics and strategies developed during the conference. Status:In progress
  • Project Profiles:  We will profile promising collaborative projects in more detail, and post them to the Montana Rural Health Initiative website. Status: In progress
  • Participant Evaluation: Please watch your email inbox for a formal participant evaluation. Your feedback is very important will help us to plan related follow-up events. Status: Complete

Conference Notes:

Day 1 Notes - Roundtable Discussion

Day 2 Notes - Action Workshop

Speaker Presentations:

  • Social Determinants of Health: How Do We Fare Nationally and in Montana?

David Erickson, Director, Center for Community Development Investments, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Ela Rausch, Senior Project Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

  • Keynote Address

James  S. Marks,  Executive Vice President, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

  • Health Sector: Strategies and Opportunities

Heather Fink, Community Healthy Improvement Manager, Healthy By Design

Kenny Smoker, Jr., HP/DP Wellness Program Coordinator, Fort Peck Tribes

Larry Bonderud, Mayor, City of Shelby

Cindy Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Bullhook Community Health Center

Moderator: Kristin Juliar, Director for Montana AHEC and Office of Rural Health, Montana State University

  • Community Development Sector: Strategies and Opportunities

Sarah Fitzgerald, Chief Lending Officer, Montana CDC

Michael McCormick, Executive Director, Livingston Food Resource Center

Todd Wilson, Director, Crow Tribal Health Department (Supportive Housing)

Danica Jamison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Gallatin United Way

Moderator: Cathy Costakis, Senior Consultant—Built Environment for Montana AHEC and Office of Rural Health, Montana State University


Conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Montana Health Care Foundation, and the Montana Office of Rural Health and Area Health Education Center at Montana State University.

Additional support for this conference was provided by:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
First Interstate BancSystem Foundation
PacificSource Health Plans
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS)
The O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation
Montana Credit Union Network
Montana Primary Care Association
Montana CDC
Mountain Pacific Quality Health Foundation