SpectrUM Garners National Award for EmPower Place

September 30, 2019

UM’s Jessie Herbert-Meny accepts a 2019 Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award in Toronto. MISSOULA – The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area was honored with a national award for EmPower Place, its innovative, collaboratively operated, family learning center at Missoula Food Bank and Community Center.

The 2019 Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award recognizes spectrUM’s role in developing and anchoring EmPower Place, which serves over 15,000 people annually.

Edgie awards are bestowed by the Association of Science and Technology Centers, which honors extraordinary accomplishments for museums and science.

The award was presented in September at the ASTC annual conference in Toronto. SpectrUM was recognized in the category of visitor experience by a small institution. A 14-member jury of science center and museum professionals reviewed and selected the award recipients.

Operated collaboratively by spectrUM, Missoula Food Bank and Community Center, and Missoula Public Library, EmPower Place embeds hands-on learning where children and families already gather. Activities in the space include science enrichment, library books and programming, after-school clubs, free meals and snacks and activities led by UM faculty and graduate students.

“EmPower Place is designed to feed both bodies and minds, creating a vibrant hub within the food bank where children can grab a snack, learn and play,” said spectrUM Interim Director Jessie Herbert-Meny. “Every day at EmPower, children are learning and exploring, and parents and caregivers are connecting and building community. It’s a transformative place.”

SpectrUM was the lead on a $475,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services that launched EmPower Place’s exhibits, programming and collaborative approach. The Missoula Redevelopment Agency also supported the creation of EmPower Place.

Sponsored by Group Delphi, the Edgie awards honor the late Roy L. Shafer, a former science center director, ASTC president and mentor.

EmPower Place is located at the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center at 1720 Wyoming St. and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 2:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome.


Contact: Jessie Herbert-Meny, SpectrUM Discovery interim director, 406-243-4828, jessie.herbert@umontana.edu.