Our Vulnerable Youth in Great Falls are Struggling
More than 475 children in Great Falls are homeless at some point during the year
More than 600 children are in foster care in Cascade County, more than double the state average
70% of foster care placements are due to substance abuse and of these 80% involved Meth
25% of the graduating class of Paris Gibson Education Center lived on their own
30.8% of 10th graders reported seriously considering attempting suicide in the past 12 months
More than 15,000 pounds of food are given to high school students annually
Many of the social services offered to children phase out between the ages of 12-18 leaving a large coverage gap in services for teenagers
The Youth Resource Center Will Fill Huge Resource Gaps
In conjunction with numerous dedicated community partners, Alliance for Youth is committed to building a Youth Resource Center, which will meet the physical, social and emotional needs of vulnerable youth in a low-barrier, safe, secure and loving environment. The Center will be open Monday–Saturday from 2 -10 p.m. and serve youth up to the age of 20.
The Center Will Offer:
• Food (including a hot meal each day at 6 p.m.)
• Clothing & hygiene products
• Shower & laundry facilities
• Mental health & addiction counseling
• Suicide prevention services
• Medical & dental care
• Transportation assistance
• Connection to employment, education/training & housing
• Life skills
• Parent mediation
We Need Your Help to Start the Center on a Sustainable Path
Make Your Tax Deductible Donation Today!
• January 2020 (Start-Up): $150,000
• June 2020 (Building Acquisition): $550,000
• January 2021 (Final Building Updates & Program Stability): $1,000,000
• January 2023 (Long-term Sustainability): $3,000,000
In-kind donations of labor, building supplies, food, new clothing and hygiene products are also needed.
For More Information, Please Contact Kristy Pontet-Stroop, Executive Director of the Alliance for Youth at 406-781-9938 or via email at email@example.com.
Food Pantry Wish List
Individually wrapped granola bars, protein bars, chips, fruit cups, cheese & crackers, cookies, trail mix, hummus and pretzel packets, microwave popcorn, etc.
Pre-packaged single-serve foods: soups, cup-a-noodle, single serve vegetables, tuna packets, mac & cheese, oatmeal, hot chocolate, pudding cups, fruits, vegetables, jerky, cheese, etc.
There is also a need for the following non-food items:
New bath towels
Travel size toothpaste
Feminine products-variety sizes of tampons, liners & pads
Body Wash mini-scrubbers to wash with
Contact Lisa Beavers for more information about food and supplies needed
406.952.0136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of the Alliance for Youth app is to provide youth with useful and relatable information about mental health and suicide prevention… all at their fingertips. Whether the user be the person at risk, or a friend or family member, through a custom app we can make sure the information they receive is accurate, relevant and trustworthy. It also provides additional resources such as safe spaces for those who might be in a vulnerable state. Click on the download buttons below to get the free app for your mobile device.
Awareness for Montana Youth
One of every five Montana youth aged 12-18 years struggles with mental illness, addiction. Depression and suicidal thinking is especially present. Youth Mental Health First Aid USA (YMHFA) is a valuable resource that can make a difference in the lives of these youth, save lives!
SOURCE: SAHMSA Montana Behavioral Health Barometer 2009-2013
YMHFA is available to adults in the community FREE of charge.
YMHFA builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.
The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents and symptoms of a mental illness or an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen non-judgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Who should take this course?
The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.), but is being tested for appropriateness within older adolescent groups (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer to peer interaction.
Mental Health Resources:
- Cascade County Youth Crisis Diversion Project
- National Alliance on Mental Health
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Resources for Suicide Prevention:
- DPHHS Suicide Prevention and Resources
- Suicide in Montana: Facts, Figures and Formulas for Prevention
Substance Abuse has far-reaching and harmful consequences. Persistent substance abuse among youth is often accompanied by an array of problems including academic difficulties and school drop-out, health-related consequences, poor peer relationships, mental health issues, crime, violence and early sexual activity, pregnancy and/or sexual assault.
Abuse of all other substances including alcohol, ecstasy, molly and prescription narcotics is decreasing and is lower or comparable to other Montana 10th and 12th grade students
Substance Abuse Prevention Alliance (SAPA)
SAPA is a community coalition founded/formed on the premise that substance abuse correlates and contributes to other behaviors that interrupt youths’ ability to reach their full potential. This coalition is focusing their efforts to prevent alcohol, marijuana, and Rx USE amongst our youth and alcohol and Rx ABUSE amongst adults and illicit marijuana use!
SAPA is a very diverse coalition of dedicated professionals and community members that courageously and diligently work to make Cascade County an even more vibrant and healthy place to live in Montana.
The coalition has representation from: City County Health Department, Benefis Health Care, Montana Highway Patrol, Gateway Community Services, United Way, University of Great Falls, Great Falls Police Department, Great Falls Public Schools CARE Program, Central Assembly Church, In His Hands Faith Group, Walker Design Group, KRTV, Youth Court Services, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Students from surrounding schools, and parents from within Great Falls community.
If you are interested in becoming involved with this work and want join SAPA, please contact: Kristy Stroop 406-952-0018 or EMAIL
Youth Advisory Board
The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a youth working group underneath the guidance of SAPA. They are working on challenging the culture of pro alcohol and drug use within the community.
SAPA’s YAB Motto: To Create Positive Change
- Be the Change You Want to See in This World – Mahatma Gandhi
- Encourages peers to take notice
- HAVE FUN!
In 2015 YAB was recognized by the Montana Chemical Dependency Bureau for their Outstanding Achievement in Alcohol Prevention Strategies.
If you are interested in becoming involved with this work and want join the YAB, please contact: Kristy Stroop 406-952-0018 or EMAIL
Living Above the Influence Campaign
SAPA has chosen Living ATI to be their mantra. Living ATI is a lifestyle choice to live our lives above the negative influences in life. This can be Playing Sports Above the Influence, Working Above the Influence, Parenting Above the Influence, Learning Above the Influence, etc…
SAPA has successfully launched a newly designed Living ATI website that houses comprehensive support and education to the local community and stakeholders. The website provides education for a myriad of issues (alcohol, drugs, violence, mental health disorders, peer support, parent support) and assists browsers with the skills to access local support and services.
Cascade County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 21 % of high school students reported having obtained alcohol through social sources such as family, friends and strangers.
The goal of this project is to restrict third-party sales, preventing and reducing youth substance abuse, and protecting youth from unnecessary harm, including death. Sticker Shock is currently placed in convenience stores across Cascade County. Cleverly designed and eye-catching stickers, window clings, hang-tags and buttons worn by personnel serving/selling alcohol remind consumers that purchasing and/or providing alcohol to anyone younger than age 21 it is against the law.
Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication that was prescribed for someone else or takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason—like to get high. It has become a big health issue because of the dangers, particularly the danger of abusing prescription pain medications. For teens, it is a growing problem:
- After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans age 14 and older.
- Teens abuse prescription drugs for a number of reasons, such as to get high, to stop pain, or because they think it will help them with school work.
- Most teens get prescription drugs they abuse from friends and relatives, sometimes without the person knowing. 19% of local high school students admit to using prescription drugs that don’t belong to them.
- Boys and girls tend to abuse some types of prescription drugs for different reasons. For example, boys are more likely to abuse prescription stimulants to get high, while girls tend to abuse them to stay alert or to lose weight.
When prescription drugs are taken as directed, they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs. When prescription drugs are abused, they can be addictive and put the person at risk for other harmful health effects, such as overdose (especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol). And, abusing prescription drugs is illegal—and that includes sharing prescriptions with family members or friends.
Americans united October 26-30 to participate in Red Ribbon Week. This year’s theme, “Love Your Drug Free Selfie” was embraced by both rural and urban schools with alcohol and drug education, dress-up days, and drug free activities. Red Ribbons adorned the County and local coffee shops supported the newly released Rx prevention campaign with “Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse…” coffee sleeves on all purchased products. Car lots placed all red vehicles at the front of their lots, wore Red Ribbons and handed out drug free messaging magnets to customers. Local businesses wore red ribbons and placed positive messaging on their reader boards and media supported the message by encouraging citizens to send in or post their “Drug Free Selfies”!
Substance Abuse Resources:
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Living Above the Influence
Mediation and Accountability Program- MAP
MAP provides students and their families a number of supports in achieving academic success. Academic success support can include cognitive, social and emotional supports.
- MAP supports parents in resolving conflicts and/or barriers that interfere with their children’s education. The conflicts and barriers are identified by the family and may include people, places or things far removed from the school grounds (i.e., parenting plan and/or co-parenting conflicts, conflict between the family and the school or conflicts within the family, etc.).
- MAP assists parents in identifying problems that interfere with their children’s academic success and helps parents develop and implement solutions to the identified problems.
- MAP is able to refer and link families/students to services outside the school system, support families in accessing services (i.e., help navigate systems, call and remind of appointments, arrange transportation, etc.) and advocate for the family, especially when multiple service providers or agencies are involved.
- MAP provides long-term support, at the family’s discretion, to help the family in maintaining their children’s academic success.
MAP is available to families FREE of any charge through financial support from Alliance for Youth and United Way of Cascade County and partnership with Big Sky Therapeutic Services.
How can I access MAP support? Contact Nicole Zimmerman via EMAIL
Parents are Powerful Influencers of Behavior
Despite the fact that your kids may indicate the contrary, despite media and social media influences, despite the influence of friends, research clearly and consistently demonstrates that parents are the most powerful influencer of their children's behaviors!
Parenting Education Courses Circle of Security and Nurturing Parenting
Alliance for Youth, offers Free or Sliding Fee Parenting Courses through a Partnership with Discovery Family Counseling Services, LLC.
Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) and Nurturing Parenting (NP) are evidence-based programs designed to improve parents’ understanding of the needs of their children and improve appropriate parent responses to meet their children’s needs. Service provision encompasses parents with children ages 0-12 years. The programs incorporate visually-based teaching methodologies, reflective dialogue (provider-parent), social support networks, accountability, and observed and coached “practice” in application of newly learned skills. COSP and NP are accomplished through a combination of 8-10 facilitated, group education/skill building sessions and 1-5 individual skill building sessions. The number of individual sessions is based upon parent needs.
Circle of Security Parenting Classes
Alliance for Youth is proud to partner with Discovery Family Counseling Services and offer this world renowned parent education program. The program is taught by two Registered Circle of Security Parent Educators.
What is it?
Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) is an 8-week parenting program designed to strengthen parent-child relationships with infants and toddlers. COSP is based on over 50 years of research about how secure parent-child relationships can be supported and strengthened. The program can be done in groups or individual sessions, depending on availability.
Who can participate?
Any parent or caregiver of a child/children aged birth through 5 years is encouraged to attend. If you have a child/children aged 5-17 years, check out Discovery Family Counseling Services, LLC for the next program start date.
Nurturing Parenting Classes
Alliance for Youth is proud to partner with Discovery Family Counseling Services and offer this world renowned parent education program. The program is taught by two trained Nurturing Parenting Educators.
What is it?
Nurturing Parenting (NP) is a 15-week program designed to teach parents how to nurture their children while maintaining a structured home environment. NP looks at alternatives to corporal punishment to help children learn to be self-disciplined. The program is designed to be started in week #1 and completed in week #15. It is setup as 15, 90 minute sessions to allow time to gain valuable information each session. This also allows time to practice the skills and have group discussion. Nurturing Parenting can be done in groups or individual sessions, depending on availability.
Who can participate?
Any parent or caregiver of a child/children aged 5-17 years is encouraged to attend. If you have a child/children age birth – 5 years, check out Circle of Security Parenting.
How much does it cost?
Nurturing Parenting is FREE for families through General Mills Foundation, Montana Children’s Trust Fund and United Way grants to the Alliance for Youth.
When is NP available?
NP is taught on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Please call 761-4150 or email Discovery Family Counseling Services for the next program start date.
Who can participate?
Any parent who would like to learn about improving relationships within their family or how handle common behavior problems of children aged 5-17 years is encouraged to attend.
Parent C.A.F.E. - Community and Family Engagement
Parent Cafés are a series of guided conversations based on the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework leadership development and parent partnership. These conversations are hosted by parent leaders who use the World Café technique to increase community wisdom, build parent voice and facilitate action to improve lives for children.
The process is designed, planned and implemented by parents, working with their community partners.
Typical community partners include:
- Early child care and education sites
- Neighborhood centers
- Community based family resource centers
- Immigrant and refugee agencies
- Faith based organizations
- Health departments or any system or agency that touches the lives of families and children
If you are interested in joining this grass-roots group please contact Program Manager Nicole Zimmerman via EMAIL or call 406-952-0035
Positive Parenting Resources:
- Infants 0-1 year
- Toddlers 1-2 years
- Toddlers 2-3 years
- Preschoolers 3-5 years
- Middle Childhood 6-8 years
- Middle Childhood 9-11 years
- Young Teenagers 12-14 years
- Teenagers 15-17 years
- Healthy Child Development
10 Tips for Positive Parenting
The Center for Disease Control’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess the associations between childhood maltreatment and later life health and well-being. The ACE Study clearly links adverse childhood experiences to lower education, income achievements and compromised health.
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Task Force
Vision:A trauma-informed, resilient community where all children and families thrive and are able to easily mobilize community resources and support.
Contact Nicole Zimmerman via EMAIL to get involved.
Mission:Build community capacity to collaboratively prevent and address and childhood trauma.
Trauma Informed Community Initiative (TIC) Trauma informed communities:
- Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for recovery
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff and others involved with the program, organization and/or system.
- Respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.
- Resist re-traumatization
What is wrong with you or what has been your experience? What’s your lens?
Operating with a “Trauma” informed approach in one sense is instinctual, in another sense it is something we do by accident. Alliance for Youth’s Trauma Informed Community Initiative (TIC) moves Great Falls forward from a community that accidently operates with a trauma informed approach to a community that consistently and intentionally operates with a trauma informed approach. The project challenges and transforms how we think about the people we work with, transforming vision from a “what’s wrong with them?” lens to a “what have been their experiences?” lens.
Local agencies are paired with experts in their discipline and consultant(s) work with respective agencies to accomplish the following:
- Complete a trauma informed approach assessment/appraisal (electronic survey and in- person interviews). The assessment/appraisal incorporates six key principals and spans ten implementation domains. Review assessment/appraisal findings and develop an action plan for improvement (in-person meeting with oral and written presentation of findings).
- Accomplish action plan for improvement and participate in follow up coaching and support as appropriate (six months).
Great childhoods begin at home, but we all play a role in the healthy development of our community’s children. What will your role be? To learn more, contact Kristy Pontet-Stroop at 406-952-0018 or EMAIL
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Volunteers are vital to Alliance for Youth’s organization and initiatives. Volunteers are always welcomed and appreciated. If you are interested in supporting or joining the efforts with any of our initiatives or want to help with our annual 3 on 3 Basketball tournaments, the Spring Fling Hoop Thing, please contact us.
Annual Spring Fling Hoop Thing
Substance Abuse Prevention
Child Abuse and Neglect
Top 5 Reasons to Volunteer
- Give back to your community
- Have fun
- Meet nice people who share common values
- Make a difference
- The work is rewarding
Alliance for Youth’s funding portfolio represents a braiding of diverse resources which ensures the financial viability of the organization. The agency is dedicated to minimizing overhead/admin costs & 90% of resources directly support programs, events and initiatives.
“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” ~ Arthur Ashe
Your $25 contribution to Alliance for Youth…
- Reduces the risk of youth suicide by providing education to adults who work with youth to learn to recognize and appropriately respond to symptoms of depression and other serious mental health disorders
- Helps an agency that serves young children and parents with young children to learn about the importance of trauma-informed care and to learn how to interact with children and parents to prevent early childhood trauma and re-traumatization
- Ensures that a parent at risk of engaging in child abuse or neglect, but who has no role models or resources can participate in parent education and skill building and learn to positively parent their child
- Prevents substance abuse and produces a taxpayer cost-avoidance of $450
- Allows youth in the community to “sticker shock” approximately 225 cases of retail alcohol products, providing a “shocking” reminder of the consequences (legal and life threatening) of providing alcohol to underage drinkers
Alliance for Youth, Inc. is making a difference in the lives within this community. All donations are tax deductible. Contact Kristy Pontet-Stroop for more information on how to donate to the mission. Alliance for Youth, Inc. is an IRS recognized 501 (c)(3), non-profit organization. Your contributions qualify for income tax deduction.
Living ATI is more than simply saying no to drugs and alcohol. It’s about realizing that the negative influences we are exposed to on a daily basis are beneath you, that you make a conscious decision to live your life with the dignity and respect you deserve.
However, we understand that rising to meet the challenge can be overwhelming. We’re here to help @ LivingATI.com. There might come a point when you ask yourself, who am I really? Am I being real? Am I still the kid my parents think I am? And more importantly, who do I want to be?
The truth is, you’re a lot of things to a lot of people – you’re interesting like that. You can be one thing online and still be kind of different in person. You can be someone to look up to, and know what it feels like to get rejected. You can be righteous in your decisions and still make mistakes. But, with so many versions of yourself, it’s easy to forget the one thing that keeps you real, the pure-grade, original 1st edition of yourself. The point is, when you reach the moment where you have to ask yourself, who am I really? Remember, you’re Above the Influence.
Spring Fling Hoop Thing is one of the largest three-on-three basketball tournaments in Montana. The event is an annual three-on-three basketball tournament that allows youth and adults to build leadership skills and perform physical activity.
Through partnership with Universal Athletic Service and other valued community businesses and organizations, almost 1,000 basketball enthusiasts from Great Falls and other Montana communities, enjoyed a day of family-oriented, substance free, basketball; building lifelong skills to maintain physical fitness and good sportsmanship.
This hosts 250 teams annually with over 1,000 players. Spring Fling Hoop Thing is Alliance for Youth’s sole fundraising event and generated net revenue for the agency in excess of $12,500 annually.
Alliance for Youth is committed to community service through active participation in stakeholder initiatives. Not only do professional colleagues support AFY-SAPA’s cross section work and coalition work, AFY-SAPA supports them as well. Collaboration is vital in keeping the important work of prevention alive and vibrant in the community. AFY supports and chairs leadership on the Great Falls Interfaith Association (GFIFA), Homelessness and Hunger Initiative; Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) leadership for Access to Healthcare, Substance Abuse Prevention, and Healthy Weight; United Way’s Graduation Matters Parent and Community Support initiative; YWCA’s Mercy Home and Violence prevention initiatives; the Early Childhood Coalition Board and Community Needs, Crisis Nursery, and Early Literacy and Parent Education Committee
Alliance for Youth advances strategies to ensure the healthy development of youth, our most valuable resource and our future! Alliance for Youth is a responsible steward of public and private funding and invests in research/evidence-based strategies that improve risk and protective factors in Cascade County, Montana community, school, family and individual environments.
The work of Alliance for Youth is founded in prevention research and seeks to improve risk and protective factors in our Cascade County, Montana community, school, family and individual environments.
Alliance for Youth, through strong stakeholder partnerships, continues to champion prevention and reduction of underage drinking and illegal drug use, abuse and dependency as well as championing improvements in mental/emotional health, delinquency, juvenile violence, school drop-out, and early childhood trauma.
Alliance for Youth, Inc. is an IRS recognized 501 (c)(3), non-profit organization. Your contributions qualify for income tax deduction. Download FORM 9-90
An engaged and empowering community where youth and families thrive.
Alliance for Youth, Inc. creates social change to advance healthy youth development within our communities through collaborative approaches to prevention, intervention and treatment.
Values and Beliefs
- A community working together can accomplish far more than any single group
- Providing Youth resources and skill development opportunities improves their ability to make choices supporting their healthy development
- Youth need assistance and support from their community choosing appropriate and legal activities
Contact Alliance for Youth
Alliance for Youth, Inc. is a non for profit, community coalition incorporated on April 4, 1990 by merging a “Community Core Team” and a “Making the Grade Task Force”. The Core Team and Task Force were established in 1982 and comprised a network of community officials, organizations, agencies and citizens concerned about youth’s use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
Kristy Pontet-Stroop, Executive Director
(406) 952-0018 EMAIL Emergency (406) 781-9938
A native of Belt, Montana, Kristy fell in love with working with children when she was a teenager. Kristy joined the Alliance for Youth team in September of 2006. Motivated by the work at Alliance for Youth Kristy obtained a BA in Community Leadership from MSU-Northern. It's very fitting Kristy was a Northern Lights Graduate because all she desires is to be is a LIGHT of hope and peace in this world. She brings energy, dedication and passion for improving the lives of youth in her community. When Kristy's not working or enjoying the great outdoors, you will find her spending time with her incredible husband and chasing her two sons to multiple sporting events.
Nicole Zimmerman, Program Coordinator
(406) 952-0035 EMAIL
A native Montanan, Nicole was looking for a change of pace and new challenges; she has found that working for Alliance for Youth. Inspired by the birth of her son, she wanted to do more for Great Falls, the community she had grown up in and would be raising her son in. This resolve led her to Alliance for Youth and their Partner the Great Falls Early Childhood Coalition. She is working to educate the community on Youth Mental Illness, Child Abuse Prevention, and supporting the community in quality preschool and early childhood development needs. Nicole is happy making Great Falls a more educated and responsive community to the needs of its youth, one program at a time.
Beth Price Morrison, Program Coordinator
(406) 952-0468 EMAIL
Originally from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Beth decided to take her life down a different path and returned to school in 2013 to study graphic design. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Montana. (Go Griz!) Combining her love of writing and design with her desire to do more for her community, Beth has found a home at Alliance for Youth. Beth’s favorite part of working for AFY is being a part of the collective impact community members have when working together. She serves on the Cascade County Substance Abuse Prevention Alliance, Human Trafficking Task Force, and Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Task Force. When Beth is not at work, you will find her spending time with her family and travelling every chance she gets. She loves an adventure, a good belly laugh with friends and searching for treasures wherever she goes.
Thomas Risberg, Development Director
(406) 590-7114 EMAIL
Lisa A. Beavers, Prevention Specialist
(406) 952-0136 EMAIL
Lisa joined the AFY team this year after working for seven years in southern California as a Substance Abuse Counselor at several startup treatment centers. Being a Montanan at heart, she returned home after 10 years to Great Falls and joined the Alliance for Youth staff wanting to move into an ‘upstream’ position of prevention to help change the startling growing statistics that afflict the youth of today. She's crazy about her ‘gkids’, British gardening shows on Netflix, White Chocolate Lattes, and exploring new ways to exercise without sweating.
P.O. Box 2982
Great Falls, MT 59403-2982