Headwaters Foundation invests $5.2 million in UM program office for Zero to Five initiative

MISSOULA – Missoula-based Headwaters Foundation announces Zero to Five, a $16.7 million, multiyear strategic initiative focused on building resiliency for Montana’s youngest children. This six-year initiative will invest $5.2 million to establish a program office anchored at the University of Montana.

“Headwaters is honored to launch Zero to Five on behalf Montana’s children,” said Headwaters Foundation CEO Brenda Solorzano. “When we asked the communities we serve how we could best allocate our resources, they told us without hesitation to focus on the children. They also told us to let communities lead the process. We’re proud to say we’ve done both.”

Anchored at UM, the Zero to Five program office will bring together the expertise of three organizations: the UM Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development; Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies; and the Childwise Institute. UM will administer the grant for the program office, which will serve as a go-to resource to community collaboratives and key stakeholders working to strengthen Montana’s programs serving children and families.

“As a research university, UM is poised to address the emerging and complex issues of our time,” said Reed Humphrey, dean of the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences and head of UM Health & Medicine. “Zero to Five aligns with our growing expertise in health and medicine, and we’re delighted to be a partner.” 

For the past year, Headwaters has been on a mission: to work side-by-side with western Montana residents to improve the health of local communities.

Headwaters started at the source. They met with community leaders in the 15 counties the foundation serves. They met with American Indian leaders on the Flathead Indian Reservation and across the region. They met with those doing the everyday work to improve the lives of children in Montana.

In 2018, Zero to Five was born.

The initiative is community driven, allowing local partner organizations to determine their own unique needs. Funded programs will address one of three specific areas related to children from age 0 to 5: resilient parenting, healthy pregnancy and school readiness.

To start, Zero to Five will include 16 community collaboratives – one in each of the counties Headwaters serves, plus one collaborative focused on American Indians. Headwaters long-term vision is to leverage funds from other foundations and investors and one day have these collaboratives across Montana.

Headwaters will fund four $200,000 implementation grants in 2018, one each in Lewis and Clark, Silver Bow, Flathead and Missoula counties, to begin work in those communities.

Lincoln and Mineral counties each will receive planning grants of $50,000 in 2018 to prepare for implementation grants in 2019. Other communities will come online gradually until all 16 are up and running. 

“We start from a place of trust,” said Solorzano. “We wholly trust our partners, our communities and the people of Montana to create in Zero to Five transformational impact in the lives of Montana’s children.”

About Headwaters Foundation

With more than $100 million in assets, Headwaters Foundation works side-by-side with western Montanans to improve the health of communities. Their vision is a western Montana where all people, especially the most vulnerable among us, are healthy and thriving. Visit www.headwatersmt.org to learn more.

About Zero to Five partners:

  • The Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development in UM’s School of Social work focuses on research, data and policy work in the zero-to-five space.
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies is a key bridge-builder, involved in a number of coalitions in the state, and brings expertise in the healthy pregnancy space.
  • Childwise Institute has deep expertise in ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) work and is a highly respected advocacy organization in the state.
  • UM brings the expertise and infrastructure to administer a large, complex grant, as well as a deep commitment to improving early childhood in the state.