509 1st Avenue South, Great Falls, MT 59401 | 406-761-5861

community

Community Revitalization


Creating, building or revitalizing a neighborhood is complicated. NeighborWorks Great Falls' Community Building program brings together residents and partners to find community solutions in two of NWGF’s target neighborhoods: downtown neighborhoods and Black Eagle. In addition, we support a number of community revitalization projects during NeighborWorks Week and throughout the year.

MApril Cleanup: Saturday, May 6th & May 13th 2017

Each spring, NeighborWorks partners with Malmstrom airmen and hundreds of volunteers bag and dispose of trash throughout Cascade County. Over two weekends, this community wide cleanup effort picks up 15 to 20 tons of trash per year. The 2017 cleanup will be held Saturday, May 6th and Saturday, May 13th. For more information about how you can help to clean up downtown alleys, call NeighborWorks at 406-761-5861. In addition to fielding teams to walk much of the 56 miles of roadway in Great Falls, several two-man teams drive up and down in the historic areas of the town collecting and disposing of trash and old items from the alleys. Other sponsors are the city of Great Falls, Montana Waste Systems, the Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Department of Transportation. A number of businesses and organizations accept materials to be recycled in Great Falls. For a list, click here.

Historic Downtown

NeighborWorks Great Falls is deeply involved in revitalization of Great Falls’ historic, original townsite; that geographic region makes up the Downtown Master Plan area, which goes from the river to 5th Avenue North to 5th Avenue South and 14th Street. Declared blighted by the City Commission in 2011, NWGF has worked tirelessly to bring together multiple stakeholders and partners to leverage our collective resources to make our downtown and surrounding neighborhoods safe, vibrant and livable. The Downtown Development Partnership brings together many of the organizations working to improve the downtown. To learn more about historic downtown Great Falls and the nearby neighborhoods ~ or to join the Downtown Development Partnership ~ go to the Partnership website: downtowngf.com.

In addition, NeighborWorks Great Falls has braided multiple funding sources, including a NeighborWorks America Community Stabilization/Neighborhood Marketing grant, to help improve and market the area. Working collectively, we’ve made amazing strides. In 2013, almost $5.2 million dollars in building rehabilitation and renovations took place, with over 185 new full-time jobs and over 35 part-time jobs in that year alone.  A volunteer group, the Downtown Chicks, received a 2013 ServeMontana Award for their work supporting the downtown; in total, over 19,300 volunteer hours were dedicated to Downtown in 2013.NeighborWorks America chose to feature NWGF’s work in the Downtown in 2 videos, one specifically about downtown and one featuring Downtown, plus 2 other hardworking areas in Detroit and Poughkeepsie, NY.  You can watch the short version here and the long version hereLearn more about what’s up downtown here. (PDF of What’s Up Downtown) You can learn more information about how to get involved with the Downtown Chicks here. (Downtown Chicks PDF) To learn about Great Falls Urban Art Project, whose website is maintained by NeighborWorks, go to greatfallsurbanart.weebly.com.

Black Eagle

Black Eagle, an unincorporated community immediately north of Great Falls, used to have a high rate of crime and poverty. Working with the neighborhood’s dedicated residents, many of whom have lived there all their lives, the community now has over 140 Neighborhood Watchers. 

In 2010, the EPA declared Black Eagle a Superfund site because of the level arsenic, lead and other minerals found in the soil, a byproduct of years of smelting in the area. According to a 2002 report by state of Montana environmental scientist Earl McCurley, “Historical records of the Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Co. (from) 1893 to 1915 document the sluicing and dumping of granulated slag, slimes, ash and tailings directly into the Missouri River…The Department of Environmental Quality) estimates that between 27.5 million and 31 million cubic yards of waste were dumped into the river before onsite containment was initiated (in 1915)…” (Great Falls Tribune http://archive.greatfallstribune.com/multimedia/stack/page19.html.) In 2013, the Black Eagle Civic Club became the official entity to work with the EPA, the state DEQ and the myriad of stakeholders working together. 

Sod Days + Weed and Feed Days

During Sod Days + Weed and Feed Days, NWGF works to improve area neighborhoods in many ways, including helping homeowners improve their home’s exterior and landscaping their property. Each year, we try to plant trees at each new house we build. In addition, we offer our new homeowners sod, at cost, for their yards, as well as weed and fertilizer spraying in the early spring. For more information on these programs and this year’s dates, call 761-5861.

Community Gardens

Pea Pods Neighborhood Gardens, in the heart of the historic Downtown neighborhood, began with residents in one of Great Falls poorest Census tracks discussing how bleak a vacant corner lot was. Through their hard work, not only does the site provide fresh produce for 40 families in the summer; it is also beautifully landscaped, with donated flowers and shrubs. Pea Pods Community Garden was the first community garden supported by the former federal program, Great Falls Weed and Seed. Pea Pods is a collaborative effort of residents, businesses, City of Great Falls' Neighborhood Council #7, Neighborhood Watch, Whittier School, area faith based organizations, the St. Ann's Soup Kitchen and NeighborWorks. 

Pea Pods focuses on neighborhood pride, tearing down the barriers of a diversified neighborhood. It has had a direct, positive effect on poverty in the neighborhood; it also has fostered healthy and nutritional eating, as well as encouraged both children and adults to be good stewards of the earth.  Together, they leverage multiple resources to serve this high crime, high poverty area. To secure a plot for the next growing season, to start a community garden in your neighborhood or for more information, contact Traci Hronek at peapodncg@gmail.com. Read the rules and guidelines here. Print out and mail this form if you would like to sign up for a plot for 2015.

NeighborWorks Week

During the first week in June, we celebrate NeighborWorks Week, together with NeighborWorks America and its network of local organizations. During that week, organizations throughout the United States mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers, business people, neighbors, friends, and local and national elected and civic leaders in a week of neighborhood change and awareness.  As part of our local activities, NWGF recognizes the volunteers of the year and those properties that deemed “Most Improved.”

“Great Falls is just a great small city. We have low crime and healthy neighborhoods. Reinvestment is occurring downtown and in the original townsite. What we don’t have are any “slums” and that’s because of NeighborWorks Great Falls.” ~Cheryl Patton, Former Assistant City Manager, Great Falls