The Amplify Montana initiative began with No Kid Hungry in April of 2018 with a process modeled after what countless other organizations across the United States were doing to engage their community members. They began their work with a pilot in Helena and then expanded to Bozeman and the Flathead Valley in 2019.
Amplify Montana worked to identify local organizations they could partner with to host focus groups where Lived Experts were asked to share their opinions and experiences on a variety of community challenges to gather rich, first-hand information. These focus groups were also used to identify individuals that would be interested in staying involved and joining the Speakers Bureau.
The Speakers Bureau consisted of a nine-week training focusing on storytelling, advocacy, public speaking, leadership, and more. Participants spent their time crafting their own stories into powerful messages that were shared at a graduation ceremony in front of elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and government representatives.
With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, Amplify worked to shift their program from an in-person format to virtual. While participants were able to complete the nine-week training and present at a virtual graduation ceremony, the pandemic presented a number of challenges resulting in the decision to postpone future Speakers Bureau trainings.
In February of 2022, Amplify Montana was transferred to the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN). As a statewide food bank, MFBN is well positioned to add this to our current grassroots advocacy and is committed to helping the Amplify Montana initiative flourish, while keeping the same level of integrity the program is known for.