MISSOULA — Empower MT recently received some great news and are ready to put a $5,000 grant from the Women’s Giving Circle to use in their BIPOC after-school program.
It's a program that for some teens is the only opportunity to connect with others in their unique circumstance
"We invite any black indigenous person of color between the ages of 13 through 18 and this group has just recently started this year and this grant money will really more of a sign for me that we are doing the right thing and that we are going on the right path," Empower MT youth program specialist Sierra Pannell said.
Pannell has an understanding of the importance of the program grounded in her own experiences.
"Growing up in Montana myself as a black person was very isolating it’s a very lonely experience and so I just know that for myself and that there must be other BIPOC youth going through the same thing," Pannell told MTN News.
Grant money will go towards funding the main component needed for these programs -- staffing.
"So much of what we do relies on our youth programs staff and they are really the ones who are coordinating outreach facilitating and creating the curriculum for these groups because they are so unique to Montana. And so all of that money will go towards supporting Sierra's work on that project," Empower MT Associate Director of Growth and Development Kelsie Severson explained.
Pannell said that there is a strong demand for the program and that the program isn’t just limited to the Missoula area but all of Western Montana teens.