AmeriCorps Host Sites

Following are MTCC’s AmeriCorps Host Sites for 2019 – 2020. Click each site name for a brief summary of the host site’s mission and the tasks and projects conducted by the AmeriCorps leaders and members currently serving. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a host site, click here.

The mission of Drummond High School is to stimulate educational growth and development in students through structured and thoughtful curriculum. Drummond High School’s goals are to increase student and community access to college access programming, support families that might need encouragement or knowledge about post-secondary enrollment, and help students meaningfully engage in service and the community. In Drummond, only 50% of graduating seniors go on to higher education programs, and only 50% of students’ parents have completed higher education programs. Many students work for their family ranches or very limited local industries instead of attending college. Drummond High School aims to increase access to all type of post-secondary opportunities through student support and engagement.

Camille Giannaris, in her role as AmeriCorps Leader for 2019 – 2020, mentors underserved rural students and connects older students with younger students in an academic mentoring role. Students’ families are engaged in college access and college knowledge programs as well. Camille also collaborates with school district staff and other volunteers to create opportunities for at-risk youth to plan for their future, including facilitating workshops and implementing future-oriented lessons in all classes. She organizes monthly pre-college activities like FAFSA nights, college field trips, College Application Week, College-Essay Writing Workshops, and Scholarship Search Nights.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) exists to promote and protect the well-being of Montana’s workers, employers, and citizens, and to uphold their rights and responsibilities. DLI has a statewide project to help engage pre-K through elementary school students in career awareness in local communities across the state. Research shows that the earlier children are introduced to careers the better prepared they are to set their secondary and post-secondary plans. The ages of pre-K to 3rd grade are critical in helping students understand the connection between school and life after school. By the third grade, students can become disengaged with particular subjects that they feel are of no use to their future self. Connecting awareness of the variety of careers with the subjects they need to master for those careers is an important aspect of student engagement. There is currently no other curriculum other than this DLI course available to help this age group with career awareness. Currently most career development starts at the 8th grade, too late for adequate planning on which courses to take in high school in order to be prepared for post-secondary options.

As the current AmeriCorps Leader, Gabe Anderson helps expand career awareness in Pre-K to third grade students in a fun and engaging way, connecting them with their local community’s employers and workers. He also develops training tools (powerpoints, handouts, materials etc.) and provides technical assistance to elementary schools and community-based organizations on how to implement the “I Can Be” and “Careers Build a Community” curriculum.

Specific focus is on schools with predominately free and reduced lunch and first generation students.

The final activity of the curriculum is a community day where students will share what they’ve learned about the careers in their community with people in their community and school. In addition to setting up the community day, Gabe will collect data on the curriculum and resources and provide feedback to the Montana Career Lab (MT Dept of Labor host).

The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula (HMFM) specializes in providing unique hands-on educational activities including workshops, family events, home school events, lectures, and more. HMFM supports K-12 college readiness through engaging academic programs both on HMFM’s historic site and in local k-12 schools. Only 38% of students from Big Sky, Sentinel, and Hellgate HS attain post-secondary education. HMFM’s programs are designed to increase awareness of careers requiring college education through one-on-one and small group activities at the museum and visits to UM.

Emily McMath, the current AmeriCorps Leader, and her team serve with HMFM at the Target Range School, CS Porter Middle School, and Big Sky HS. The team engages youth from these local schools through visiting the University of Montana and helping them connect academic departments with majors and the careers they support. The team is also mentoring youth to develop parts of the new HMFM exhibit opening in 2019, working with up to 70 students in the classroom and on site to develop exhibit ideas and go through the production steps and revisions. The team develops relationships with teachers to support the work on this project, strengthening teacher skills in fostering creativity and keeping students on track.

With only 38.3% of first generation refugees in the United States attending college — if aged 8-19 at arrival — and Missoula’s growing refugee population, the IRC is prepping refugee children for increased academic success to ensure that they are prepared for college. The first goal of this program is to enroll all refugee children into childcare centers, pre-schools, after-school programs and K-12 classrooms in a timely fashion and ensure that schools are trained to work with refugee families. This will set the stage for increased academic success and prepares refugee youth for college, which provides refugee youth with equal access to the services that prepare them preemptively for post-secondary education. The second program goal is to help parents, caregivers and educators to make sure that they know how to support their children with being successful in the US school system. In that Missoula is new to resettling refugees, the AmeriCorps Leader serves as a liaison between refugees and educational institutions.

The AmeriCorps Leader’s volunteer activities include coaching University of Montana, public and private schools, and childcare centers on how to best serve refugees, mentoring families on supporting their children in being successful in the US school system, attending all school enrollment meetings and school tours with families, conducting outreach to educational facilities to increase capacity of available options, and assisting families in completing child-care, after-school, and early education facility applications as well as state child care scholarship applications. These activities prep refugee youth for successful college access.

Indigenous Research and STEM Education (IRSE) is dedicated to the advancement of Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nation students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academic disciplines and professions. Montana EPSCoR provides support to IRSE to work with Montana’s tribal communities and colleges and ensures culturally-supported education for indigenous undergraduate and graduate students at UM. Director Dr. Aaron Thomas develops a multitude of programs that ensure inclusive opportunities at all levels.

Lana Petrie, the current AmeriCorps Leader, works directly with K-12 youth from the tribal communities and students currently attending the University of Montana. She provides academic mentoring opportunities for Montana Native American students starting in the 6th grade through higher education.

EmPower Place is a collective impact effort housed at the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center in partnership with spectrUM Discovery Area and Missoula Public Library. The 1,200 sq. ft. dedicated space functions as a “third place” that is part community center, science museum, meal site, and library. Rich with science exhibits, role models, literacy and STEM programming, and books for children, young adults, and parents, EmPower Place is designed to work upstream of the issue of hunger to enhance opportunity and quality of life for all of Missoula’s children and families. In 2018, the food bank served 26,243 unduplicated individuals in 7,897 households. 33% of their services benefit children; last year 8,747 children in Missoula County relied on Missoula Food Bank & Community Center for basic nutrition needs.

As the current AmeriCorps Leader, Ethan Marston provides free after school programming at EmPower Place. He distributes and records snacks and meals provided in the space as well as training and supporting volunteer engagement activities with youth. He also develops and leads after school curriculum that weaves multi-subject learning into play-based engagement, and leads academic success activities that tie to UM and Missoula College.

The Institute for Educational Opportunities at Montana Tech is a consortium of programs developed to provide K-12 and college students with the tools and support they need to achieve success in higher education. Poverty in the Butte area is high with more than 1 in 5 families living in poverty. 76% of adults in the area do not have a bachelor’s degree. The high poverty and low educational attainment levels effect academic achievement and aspirations of area youth as evidenced by only 72% of students persisting from one grade level to the next and only 71% graduation rate in the standard number of years.

Madison McDonagh, the Montana Tech AmeriCorps Leader recruits and leads a team of college student AmeriCorps Team Members. She and her team engage students in school and after school academic mentoring at Ramsay Elementary school and Legion Oasis. The team delivers college access curriculum such as financial literacy workshops, FAFSA support, and a summer nudging program encouraging post-secondary enrollment at high schools for recent high school graduates. The team supports college students as college positive volunteers to strengthen service projects and college access programming, assists and participates in national service day projects, and engages students in community service projects to encourage civic and community engagement.

The Boys & Girls Club’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential and become productive, responsible and caring citizens. The Boys & Girls Club of Richland County (“The Club”) is an after school program for children in kindergarten through 12th grade designed to provide a safe place for kids to learn and grow. There are few other community alternatives for after school care. A lack of affordable alternatives may lead to some families choosing to allow their young child to go home alone. The Boys & Girls Club is a place where ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals occur and where life enhancing programs and character development experiences happen. The Club offers daily activities of homework help, arts & crafts, and gym. Also offered are high yield learning activities (hiding learning in fun) and Character Counts!

The AmeriCorps Leader, Nicole Fortier, supports youth-focused mentoring activities through Boys & Girls Clubs for at least 50 youth and works with staff to develop goals and schedules. She assiss members with homework help, WriteBrain and STEM activities as well as with the Club Mentorship program. Her team partners with school districts in Richland and Dawson Counties to encourage post-secondary education. Projects include a food stability/backpack program, delivering financial aid and scholarship workshops, assisting with college and job fairs, facilitating community and school based mentoring programs, recruiting and supporting college student volunteers to strengthen service projects and college access programming, assisting with national days of service projects, and engaging students in community service projects to encourage civic and community engagement.

Only 36% of graduates from Troy High School attend postsecondary education opportunities. In order to support and expand college access in the Troy community, local businesses and organizations are partnering with the city of Troy for a School to Work program to educate students about potential career, college, and post-secondary opportunities that are available to them after graduating from High School.

The current AmeriCorps Leader mentors high school students for success and college access by assisting students with college applications, job interview skills, and scholarship opportunities. He engages high school students in college visits and works with the Gear-Up Team to increase community involvement in school activities. He also provides mentorship opportunities for students with local community members and their peers.

The Broader Impacts AmeriCorps Leader engages Montana’s next generation of scientists and leaders in hands-on science activities at UM’s Empower Place in the Missoula Food Bank. Many students in Missoula and across Montana do not have access to hands-on science education or opportunities to learn about higher education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Chandler Padgett, the current AmeriCorps Leader, provides hands-on demonstrations, activities and events for students in Montana through SpectrUM’s educational camps and clubs and at EmPower Place. He assists the Head of Educational Programs and the EmPower Place Manager in developing signage that highlights educational opportunities at the University of Montana and shares UM opportunities with these young students. He also recruits volunteers for SpectrUM’s Big Night event, outreach events, EmPower Place, and other special events.