Missoula County, Montana
- Community name: Missoula County
- Community or city website
- Population: 66,851
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Youth poverty rate: 18%
This is the fifth year Missoula was honored by the Alliance for its commitment to the positive development of its young people. Missoula has many programs in place to support its youth. One of its biggest accomplishments has been decreasing the dropout rate by48 percent through Graduation Matters, a community-wide partnership that teaches students, parents, school personnel and community leaders about the importance of education. Missoula is also dedicated to raising healthy and civic-minded young people through YMCA’s Active 6 Program, which teaches all Missoula County sixth graders about good nutrition while promoting an active lifestyle. Additionally, each month, one elementary school organizes Superheroes of Kindness, an initiative which incorporates community service projects including food collection for the food bank and delivering handmade flowers to an assisted living center.
- Graduation Matters is a community-wide partnership that addresses dropout prevention and increases community awareness of the need to improve graduation rates. School personnel, community members, parents and students collectively address dropout prevention in the program.
- YMCA’s Active 6 Program offers free activities to all Missoula County sixth graders to promote well-being through nutrition and exercise education just as they are just starting to make choices about healthy lifestyles. The program is in partnership with Community Medical Center and The University of Montana.
- Superheroes of Kindness is a program of community service projects that one elementary school organizes twice a month. These random acts of kindness include collecting food for the food bank and delivering handmade flowers to an assisted living center.
- Missoula Forum for Children and Youth works to prevent substance abuse and promote the development of healthy and resilient children and youth. Missoula also offers licensed addiction counselors in schools as well as after school programs, mentoring programs and Missoula’s Coalition for Youth to combat drug use in teens.
- Missoula’s Foster Care Program requires foster families to attend 18 hours of initial training and 15 hours of follow-up training per year in addition to meeting with a family resource specialist prior to being accepted into the program.
In Missoula, you can take a bus across time and only check-in with your parents once or twice, but you could never do that in a big city.
With Missoula Outdoors Learning Adventures (MOLA), I was exposed to the nature around our city and became friends with people my age.