Montana Horizons Program: Transforming Communities from Striving to Thriving

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MSU Extension: Local Government Center


This report details the work accomplished by 15 communities that successfully completed the Horizons III program during 2008-10 and provides a snapshot of their achievements. As examples throughout this report attest, the challenges in rural communities are significant but not insurmountable and opportunities abound. When community members focus on a specific outcome, join hands with collaborating partners and keep their eye on the future, the possibilities are never-ending. A new spirit and passion for community involvement is created when a common goal is identified and shared broadly.


Launched in 2003, Horizons is funded by the NWAF, whose mission is to help reduce poverty in eight states including Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Also participating are towns in Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota. In 2004, Montana State University Extension began a partnership with the Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) and communities across the state to address the growing concern of rural poverty in Montana. The general premise that directed this endeavor was if a delivery organization (MSU Extension) worked closely with a funding partner (the NWAF) in collaboration with local communities to identify and address issues of poverty, then positive results could be accomplished. This partnership was designed a six-year partnership that was designed to create community dialog, develop local leadership, build on community assets, and move a community to visioning and action. As of 2010, more than 35 communities have completed the 18-month Horizons program, with several additional communities participating in some elements of community dialog, leadership development and action planning.


Area planning and development, Social work, Economics


Lachapelle, P.R. and B. Graham. 2010. Montana Horizons Program: Transforming Communities from Striving to Thriving. Bozeman, MT: MSU Extension 17 pages.
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