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By Andi Bourne

Foundation Announces Four Initiatives


SWAN VALLEY – The Swan Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) announced the four initiatives for the $70,000 grant they received from the William H. Donner Foundation, Inc. The initiatives include fully vesting the SVCF endowment, support for small grants, funding aging services, and developing a strategy for a sustainable Swan Valley Economy.

“Our foundation is not a political organization,” said Mercer at the Swan Valley Community Council meeting, Oct. 18. “Our only point of view is we want to see the Swan Valley be a desirable, viable community as we move on into the future.”

The SVCF will use $15,000 of the grant plus $1,500 from the SVCF General Fund to increase their endowment fund through the Montana Community Foundation (MCT) to $25,000. This fully vests the endowment and earns SVCF a $5,000 incentive return that can be used for the community support fund. The income from the endowment can be used to support community initiatives.

The $5,000 incentive, plus any additional support from Swan Valley residents, will be available to Swan Valley-based non-profits as annual community support fund grants or opportunity grants. The annual grant application and criteria will be available in December with grants announced in January 2017. Grants are competitive and can be for $250-$3,000.

Opportunity grants are available any time and help secure an opportunity or engage in a project that benefits the Swan Valley. Grants range in size from $250-$1,500. Applications and criteria for the grant will be available in January 2017.

The idea for the third initiative was born out of the community’s need for services for its growing aging population identified during the envisioning process in 2013. Mercer said that by 2020 the average age in the valley will be older than 65.

The SVCF is working in collaboration with Missoula Aging Services (MAS) and the Seeley Lake Community Foundation to fund Resource Specialist Linda Howard. She will work with the Swan Valley Senior Services and other organizations to identify and meet the needs of the aging populations in the Swan and Seeley Valleys.

Linda Howard’s grandparents Minnie and Carl Nelson lived in the Swan Valley. “I feel very privileged to receive this opportunity to work in the Valley,” said Howard.

Howard said that MAS goal is to keep people in their homes as long as possible. MAS’s mission is promoting the independence, dignity and health of older adults and those who care for them.

Howard explained that her job is to get to know the community, find out the needs of the community and then provide the resources as information and programs to meet the senior’s needs.

“There are so many things that the aging population needs yet connecting them to the people that can help them and to the programs that can provide them the help can be challenging,” said Howard.

MAS offers 400 services. Howard believes many senior citizens are not aware of all the government programs available to them. She cannot reach out to people in the community unless they or their primary caregiver contacts her.

“The way I look at it everyone has worked their whole lives and put their money into taxes. These programs are for people that need them,” said Howard. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Howard works out of her office in Seeley Lake in the Seeley Lake Community Foundation Office in the Bison and Bear Center. However she’s available for home visits by calling and making an appointment 406-541-7688.

The fourth initiative, Sustainable Swan Valley Economy, came out of the envisioning process as well as the realization by many after the loss of the Mission Mountains Mercantile that the economy is “heading in the wrong direction,” said Mercer. The idea behind this initiative is to create a sustainable and viable economy with continuity that is dependable.

Mercer said that the valley has a lot of assets and information laying the foundation for discussions about economics. However the biggest barriers to keeping young people in the Swan are jobs and housing.

“Through the [Draft Swan Valley and Community Profile produced in 2011 and the envisioning process completed in 2013] the community has described our valley, defined what it loves about our Valley along with important community values and has a good definition of what is acceptable in land use planning,” said Mercer. “What is needed now is a strategy identifying how to achieve a sustainable economy in the Swan Valley. One that keeps our community viable retains our rural character and respects our traditions, culture and natural values.”

The foundation will partner with a non-profit organization that will use the information already available, establish a steer committee that focuses on sustainable economy in the Swan and they will draft a plan on how to achieve those goals.

“I think there is energy, I think there is desire. I think what we lack is direction,” said Mercer.

Mercer said the SVCF is interested in ideas, especially how to vitalize the community, and the needs of the community. For more information visit


Reader Comments


RARARA writes:

Hello, This is awesome news about the new person representing Msla Aging Srvs in Seeley Lake! Congratulations to Linda Howard and can't wait to meet you one of these days soon. The problem for seniors to have transportation to Missoula to get help such as the MAS' offers is sometimes trying so having a person there will help a lot!!! Very Happy to see this!!! -Rena