kidsLINK Afterschool Program

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GGUW kidsLINK Afterschool Program

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Greater Gallatin United Way kidsLINK Afterschool was established in 1997 in response to an identified need in our rural communities; to keep children safe after school while their parents finished their work day.  kidsLINK Afterschool now operates in 29 school-based/linked locations across 4 counties and served 1,611 children daily with 3,436 enrolled during the 2015-16 school year. kidsLINK is a fun, safe environment providing rich opportunities for learning,  personal growth, and building relationships.  Its success is the result of strong partnerships with schools, school districts, MSU, Gallatin County 4-H and other local organizations.  

kidsLINK Afterschool Communities:

  • Amsterdam
  • Belgrade
  • Big Sky
  • Big Timber
  • Bozeman
  • Gardiner
  • Livingston
  • Manhattan
  • Pray
  • Three Forks
  • West Yellowstone
  • White Sulphur Springs

kidsLINK Afterschool 6 Goals

  • Ensure no child is home alone by providing quality, affordable out of school programming that supports and engages busy families  
  • Enhance student health by providing nutritious daily snacks and nutrition curriculum
  • Strengthen student well-being by providing daily physical activity with a focus on lifelong fitness
  • Promote student academic success by providing tutoring and homework support
  • Develop student interest and passion for  learning through enrichment activities
  • Foster student mental and emotional well-being through quality staffing and ongoing professional development

Click here for General Information Brochure        Click here for Bozeman School District #7         Click here for Belgrade Schools

This fall, Greater Gallatin United Way (GGUW) will celebrate 20 years in afterschool programming.  In 1997, GGUW provided an $8,000 "venture grant".  A priority need for the Three Forks community was to keep children safe, while parents finished their work days.  The community came together to be part of the solution.  Rather than investing these funds into transporting children to another location, paying rent, or investing in a new building, a more practical and economically viable solution was established; to partner with the school district and utilize existing assets to house the program.  This partnership model leveraged the city as the fiscal agent, the school district as the administrative oversight, and GGUW as the funding source.  The result...  the first afterschool program supporting working families and local businesses was established in Three Forks, Montana.

By 2000, other rural school districts were asking for afterschool programs.  GGUW submitted their first grant proposal to Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Foundation.  The awarded funds helped to expand afterschool programs to other rural communities, including Monforton, W. Yellowstone, Manhattan, Gardiner, Big Sky, Belgrade and Bozeman.

Today, kidsLINK Afterschool has over 3,400 children enrolled, operates in 29 school-based/linked locations across 4 counties, and serves over 1,600 children every day.  kidsLINK Afterschool is more than a safe place; it provides rich opportunities for learning, personal growth, and building relationships.  Parents, children, schools and businesses depend on kidsLINK Afterschool.

The success of this program is the result of strong partnerships, effective collaboration and utilizing existing community resources to fulfill an important community need.  As the lead agency, GGUW coordinates the work of schools and school districts, government agencies, private funders, programs and others involved to deliver a successful, sustainable, replicable, accessible afterschool model.  GGUW is responsible for the administration, funding, evaluation, and reporting, while partner schools and school districts hire and supervise the staff and generously donate facilities.  Area nonprofit organizations, such as Gallatin County 4-H, community libraries, MSU and others offer support through curriculum implementation, staff development, tutoring/homework support, parent liaison referrals, enrichment activities, and research.

Programs are available for all children, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2015, GGUW awarded $283,000 in scholarships to families who might not have another option, but for their children to be alone afterschool.  Studies show that children without access to afterschool programming are more likely to engage in high risk behaviors and spending time with caring adults increases self-confidence and decreases engagement in high risk behaviors.  In addition, kidsLINK Afterschool provides homework and tutoring support, which results in increased academic achievement, as well as more quality family time during the evening.  Finally, afterschool programming provides a bridge between out-of-school experiences and in-school learning; increasing interest in education and school itself.

The annual operating cost for the program is over $1 million annually.  Without the in-kind donation of school space and school assets, the cost would easily double.  Revenues to help support the program are generated from three entities in almost equal amounts - - 26 grant awards, generous donations and parent fees.

As our communities grow, so do the demands on afterschool programming.  As more families require dual incomes to provide for their households, and the reality that income and the cost of living are not in line, scholarships are necessary to ensure that ALL our kids are safe and engaged every day.  With an expected short-fall of over $100,000 for the 2016-17 school year, GGUW is working hard to raise more funds to continue to meet the needs youth, their families and employers in our community.

For more information, contact Megan Brenna, kidsLINK Afterschool Program Director at 406.587.2194 or

$100,000 kidsLINK Afterschool Program Fundraising Challenge!

Individuals and employers can take part in sustaining this vital community program. We

  kick off this event with $10,000 in match funds from The Gilhousen Family Foundation. 

Our goal is to reach $50,000 in match funds, so that every dollar you donate will be matched 100%. 

Together, we can reach $100,000!

Double your gift - - donate today to GGUW kidsLINK Afterschool and "Keep The Lights On Afterschool!" 


Funding for kidsLINK Afterschool


Program Partners


   Montana STEM Academy of Young Kids

Thank you to the following sponsors who are helping to "Keep The Lights On Afterschool!" 

May 31st 2016 Ahn Trio Benefit Concert Sponsors include:

Click for Photo Gallery of Event




2016 Highlights

GGUW invested a lot of time, care and staffing support for the kidsLINK Afterschool Programs in Belgrade - particularly the program at the Belgrade Middle School during the 2015-16 school year. New Program Coordinators and staff from Gallatin County 4-H Extension came on board to redesign the program. These dedicated coordinators work hard to establish youth-driven projects, as well as deliver inventive enrichment activities to capture the interest of teenagers. Activities include a visit from the Montana Raptor Conservation Center, art and craft projects, STEM activities, outdoor games, and cooking and nutrition education. An added bonus to this program came through funding from a new private donor, which allowed us to create a more inviting and workable space for the students. New shelves, furniture, lighting, a sink for art and cooking projects, and storage for student’s backpacks and jackets were installed. The kids are excited about the transformation. We expect to complete the updates this next month.
The continued growth of the kidsLINK Afterschool programs means regularly hiring new staff. The kidsLINK Afterschool Program Director is committed to providing new and current staff with valuable professional development opportunities, especially curriculum that focuses on improving social/emotional outcomes. The following sessions were offered this fall:
Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI): Full day training offered to Bozeman and Belgrade staff on how to de-escalate high intensity situations, and if unable to de-escalate, training on how to safely restrain agitated students. The training was provided through Southwest Montana School Services.
Nutrition Education Training: Half day training on various nutrition education topics, including how to implement the Walmart Foundation Grant and distribution of nutrition supply and resource bins. The training was offered by Katie Bark of Montana TEAM Nutrition and hosted by GGUW.
The Importance of Child Attachment: Half day training about child attachment. Offered by Southwest Montana School Services.
Renew! How to Combat Compassion Fatigue in Giving Professions: Half day workshop offered to kidsLINK Afterschool front-line staff who were unable to participate in the same session at the Aug 2015 Afterschool & Beyond training, or the May 2016 Resilience Conference. Workshop was taught by Lynette Rodi of Renew! and hosted by GGUW.
GGUW tackled a sizeable in-house project this past summer. kidsLINK Afterschool migrated to Jackrabbit Care, a new web-based attendance package selection, attendance tracking, communication and billing system for programs in Bozeman and Belgrade. The system is providing more efficient means of communicating with kidsLINK families, improved attendance records, and a better overview of kidsLINK revenues.
As you are aware, changes to the MOST, Montana Out-of-School Time Fund, last spring meant that GGUW could no longer apply for and receive $95,000/year in funding. Our Board of Directors was concerned about the ability to level-fund the existing 29 kidsLINK Afterschool partners this school year. We are working hard to reach $100,000 in new funding through targeted fundraising efforts and expanding our grant research efforts so that all 29 programs will receive the funding they need to be fully operational. We are thankful to have Gilhousen Family Foundation support renewed this summer for the kidsLINK program which included your Gilhousen match gift as an incentive for donors. We expect to reach our match requirement soon.