Donner Foundation Grant

In 2016 the SVCF applied for a $70,000 grant from the William H. Donner Foundation, Inc. of Tarrytown, New York. Proceeds of the grant benefit four SVCF initiatives. The SVCF was awarded the grant and received funds in September. The William H. Donner Foundation Inc. grant furthers the following initiatives in the Swan Valley.

Endowment Fund $15,000

This amount along with $1,500 from the SVCF General Fund increased our endowment fund managed by the Montana Community Foundation (MCF) to over $25,000. This fully vests the endowment and earns SVCF a $5,000 incentive return from the MCF that will be used for the community support fund. Future income from the endowment can be used to support community initiatives.

Community Support Fund and Opportunity Small Grants

The MCT incentive of $5,000 is available for small grants supporting projects and opportunities that benefit the community.  Any Swan Valley based non-profit organization can apply for these funds.

Community Support Fund grants range from $500 to $3,500. Applications and criteria become available December 13th, 2016.

Opportunity Grants provide funds for non-profits that need additional funding to secure an “opportunity” or engage in a project that benefits the Swan Valley.  Opportunity Grants range in size from $500 to $1500 and may be applied for at any time. Applications and grant criteria will be available in February 2017.

It is anticipated that these funds will receive additional support from Swan Valley residents as the SVCF seeks to provide a pool of resources for non-profits in our valley.

Aging Services Fund 

A significant amount of the grant from The Donner Foundation supports collaboration with Missoula Aging Services and Seeley Lake Community Foundation to hire a Resource Specialist to identify and aid in meeting the needs of the aging populations of the Swan Valley and Seeley Lake. Ms. Linda Howard MPH is the resource specialist and has an extensive background and training in elder services. She works with Swan Valley Senior Services, and other organizations exchanging ideas, and working together to meet the needs of the Swan Valley.  Her office is in Seeley Lake.

Sustainable Swan Valley Economy 

Young families are important to the future of the valley and community. Our Emergency Services, first responders, fire, rescue and ambulance are all staffed by volunteers. In 2020, when the average age in the valley is in excess of 65, who will be there to respond? Who will be there to work on roads, plow snow, fix roofs, fix porches, cut firewood, provide forest fire fuel reduction and forest management services for full and part-time residents? Who will provide senior services and care for the people that are over 65? It is critical for the community, and for the continued viability of private and public service providers, like the fire department, the elementary school and local services to attract and retain young people. Without young people our community will suffer. The biggest barrier for young people to stay or move into the valley is our declining economy.

There has been considerable groundwork completed in the Swan Valley. The Community Council established the growth policy committee in 2008. It produced the Draft Swan Valley and Community Profile in 2011 that describes our valley including economics. Funding from the Sonoran Institute and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks was used to complete a community envisioning process in 2013 that gave valley residents an opportunity to express their ideas and concerns about many issues in the valley including economics. The planning committee held additional neighborhood meetings and produced a draft Regional Growth Policy for the Swan Valley in 2016.

Through this work the community has described the valley, defined what it loves about the valley along with important community values and has a good definition of what is acceptable and unacceptable in land use planning. What is needed now is a strategy identifying how to achieve a sustainable economy in the Swan Valley that keeps our community viable, retains our rural character, and respects our traditions, culture and natural values.

In January of 2017, using funds from the Donner Foundation grant, SVCF will seek out a partner non-profit organization with expertise and experience helping rural communities like the Swan Valley achieve a sustainable economy. Once selected that organization will be tasked with assisting the community in formulating and beginning to implement a plan for a sustainable economy.