MISSOULA – The Missoula community is invited to join the University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area, the Missoula Food Bank and the Missoula Public Library in celebrating the grand opening of EmPower Place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 22.
EmPower Place is a family learning center embedded in the Missoula Food Bank, located at 1720 Wyoming St., and collaboratively is operated by the food bank, spectrUM and the Missoula Public Library. Intended to serve as a vibrant community gathering place for children and families, the space includes spectrUM science exhibits, library books for children and parents, hands-on activities led by role models with UM’s We Are Montana in the Classroom initiative, and Story Time with the Missoula Public Library. Admission to EmPower Place and its programming is free and open to all.
“EmPower Place makes the food bank experience entirely different for families,” said Jessica Allred, director of development and advocacy at the Missoula Food Bank. “Parents and kids learn and play together. It is a completely new way of addressing food security in our community. It’s magic.”
The EmPower Place grand opening will feature a free barbecue, spectrUM science activities, games with Missoula Parks and Recreation, Missoula Public Library’s WOW Bus, a free kids’ raffle and a free ice cream cone for the first 150 children.
EmPower Place was seeded with funding from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and a National Leadership Grant for Museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
SpectrUM Director Holly Truitt, who serves as principal investigator on the $910,000 IMLS project, said, “SpectrUM is honored to steward these funds for EmPower Place, which is the result of a collaborative, co-creative process with our partners to inspire our next generation about the bright futures that await them in higher education and potential career pathways. We see this space as a national model for the powerful collective impact that organizations can make when we link arm in arm with a shared vision of closing opportunity and achievement gaps in our community.”
EmPower Place is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Kids’ Table free meals are served at EmPower Place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult unless attending a Kids’ Table meal.
For more information about EmPower Place and the array of free programs it offers, call Truitt at 406-243-4872.