Zero to Five
A healthier <span>Montana</span> starts here

Zero to Five is a multi-year strategic initiative focused on building resiliency for Montana’s youngest children. Launched in 2018 with seed funding from the Headwaters Foundation, Zero to Five is a community-led effort made up of local collaboratives and a central program office working together to improve the lives of children and their families.

When children get the right start in their earliest years, they go on to be happier, healthier grownups. When Headwaters Foundation asked communities how we could best support them, they told us to focus our resources on children. Based on these two key factors, Zero to Five was born.

Zero to Five builds on the strong foundation of work already happening in Montana by creating and funding a strong structure at the local grassroots and statewide treetops levels.

Zero to Five will start with the 16 community collaboratives—one in each of the counties Headwaters serves plus one collaborative focused on American Indians. Headwaters will seek to leverage additional investments to support local collaborative zero to five efforts in other regions of the state.

To start, Headwaters will provide $200,000 community collaborative implementation grants to Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Silver Bow and Missoula counties to launch their zero to five work. Lincoln and Mineral counties will receive planning grants of $50,000 in 2018 to prepare for implementation grants in 2019.

Each collaborative will choose one of three focus areas in which to work: school readiness, resilient parenting or healthy pregnancies. Working together with a central program office, these collaboratives will work collectively to strengthen programs for children and families in western Montana.

The Zero to Five program office will serve as the go-to resource for local zero to five collaboratives and all key stakeholders working across Montana to improve programs serving children and families. This office brings together the expertise of three organizations: The University of Montana Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development; Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies; and Childwise Institute.

The Zero to Five program office is a virtual office but the University of Montana will oversee the grant. 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.

Each program office partner brings a unique set of knowledge and skills to this work. The Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development at the University of Montana is doing extensive 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 the deep expertise in ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) work, and is a highly respected organization in the state. Together these three organizations can do more than any one of them could do alone.

For more info contact our Program Office


For inquiries related to funding from the Headwaters Foundation, please contact Erin Switalski at 406.218.2431