Strengthening Montana’s public health system through supporting local and tribal health departments to deliver essential services for the communities they serve. 

Our first-ever grant, issued in 2014, provided $1.3 million to strengthen local and tribal health public health through supporting health departments on governance, community health assessments, strategic planning, and program development. The grant supported health departments around Montana; contributed to new partnerships between health departments, hospitals, and other community organizations; and allowed communities to take concrete steps to strengthen the essential services of public health. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is transitioning this project to a more sustainable format: in 2017 DPHHS relied on core funding and federal block grant dollars to continue this project, with MHCF funds playing a smaller role.

In 2018, our work on strengthening local and tribal public health will focus mainly on leadership planning efforts. To keep informed about our leadership planning work, please email MHCF Program Associate Michele Henson.

Funding Opportunities

For county and tribal public health departments interested in applying for support and mini-grants from DPHHS in 2018, please contact Kerry Pride.

Public health agencies and organizations may also apply for MHCF funds under our competitive 2019 Call for Proposals in the Partnerships for Better Health focus area.

Our Work in Public Health

Public Health Grantees

Public Health System Improvement Office, Public Health and Safety Division

Montana Public Health Workforce Assessment

Project Term: 12 months; 2018-2019
Grant Amount: $11,000

This project will support the strengthening of public health in Montana by developing a statewide public health workforce survey and administering the survey to all participating health departments across the state. Partners for this project include the Montana Public Health Workforce Development Group and the University of Montana’s Center for Children, Family, and Workforce Development. The survey will provide health departments and public health organizations a comprehensive look at Montana’s public health workforce interests and needs. Grant funds will be used to hire a contractor to review the current workforce data, develop and distribute the survey, and collect and analyze the results. To date, Montana has not had a comprehensive workforce survey, and it is an essential ingredient for developing a sound, statewide approach to building a public health workforce.

Montana Public Health Association

Montana Public Health 101: Improving the Health of Citizens by Training the Public Health Workforce

Project Term: 24 months; 2018-2020
Grant Amount: $75,000

This project will help orient and train new public health workers by creating an online learning platform in partnership with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Association of Montana Public Health Professionals, the Montana Environmental Health Association, Montana State University Area Health Education Center, the University of Montana, and the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center. This new training resource will provide no-cost orientation for new public health workers to the state system and create an additional local board of health training option. This project aims to increase the knowledge and skills of local public health officials, decrease the amount of staff turnover, and mitigate the negative effects of staff turnover when it does occur. Grant funds will be used to develop the content of the online training module and produce the training in an online format. The primary public health entities in the state will be engaged throughout this project and will help disseminate the training and encourage its use once it has been developed.

Public Health System Improvement Office

Improving Health Through Collaborations

Grant Term: 24 months; 2018-2020
Grant Amount: $262,587

MHCF’s 2014 grant to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) supported county and tribal health departments to complete 34 local board of health trainings, 17 community health assessments, 10 community health improvement plans, and 10 strategic plans. One of the most important findings from this work was the prevalence of behavioral health concerns in communities throughout Montana: 80 percent of health departments identified substance use disorders and at least half also identified suicide or mental illness as top health challenges. This new grant will accomplish two related goals. First, it will build on MHCF’s current collaboration with DPHHS to continue strengthening capacity among Montana’s local and tribal public health departments. Second, through a new partnership between the DPHHS Public Health and Safety and Addictive and Mental Disorders divisions, it will implement a new, statewide, coordinated, public health-led initiative to prevent substance use disorders and mental illness.

MSU - Office of Rural Health

Community Health Worker Stakeholder Project

Project Term: 24 months; Ended 2018
Grant Amount: $140,772

This project created a plan to support the broader use of community health workers (CHWs) in Montana. CHWs are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of the communities they serve. They are intended to serve as a liaison between community members and health and social service providers in order to facilitate access to care, transportation, appropriate follow-up, and continuity of services. Over the course of the grant, the project achieved several major accomplishments. 1) It created a Montana CHW curriculum which includes nationally recognized core competencies as well as a focus on issues of importance to Montana. 2) It developed a training program for CHWs. The curriculum is currently offered online through the AHEC system partners and will also be piloted as a classroom training program. 3) As a result of this project, the MT AHEC Program was able to apply for and receive funding for a Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Grant from HRSA which pays the cost of training CHWs in Montana.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Improving the Health of Montanans through Local and Tribal Public Health

Project Term: 24 months; Ended 2018
Grant Amount: $1,344,740

This project supported county and tribal health department strategic planning and programming through a collaboration with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). This grant made a major contribution to strengthening county and tribal public health departments in Montana and helped transform the relationship between the state and local health departments. The grant enabled local and tribal jurisdictions to complete community health planning that otherwise would not have happened on a statewide scale. From 2015 to 2018, the grant activities increased the number of completed community health assessments (CHA) by county and tribal health departments from 10 to 44; the number of community health improvement plans (CHIP) from 7 to 35; and the number of strategic plans from 7 to 26. In addition, some the funding was used by local health departments to implement programs that addressed priority areas identified in the CHIPs. For smaller health departments that lacked the resources to complete CHAs or CHIPs, the grant also allowed DPHHS to provide basic resources such as public health training for boards of health. The funding and collaboration between DPHHS and MHCF also facilitated the creation of a permanent public health system support unit that will provide ongoing support and technical assistance to local health departments beyond the term of the grant.

County Health Profiles are available to the public via the DPHHS portal for the county health departments and Community Health Assessments are available on our website.

2019 Call for Proposals

Find out about this year’s available grants.