While Bullock Considers Tapping The Rainy Day Fund, What Is Headwaters Doing With Our 100 Million Dollars?

by William Skink

At the end of the day, it all comes down to money.

We can dress things up by talking about abstractions like “values”, but if you don’t have money, you don’t have the means to take care of yourself.

At the macro level, America’s economy is a bullshit house of cards detached from sound fundamentals in order to prop up Wall Street’s terrible gambling addiction. There was a chance to address this massive economic time-bomb in 2008, when Democrats had the presidency and Congress, but we know how that turned out.

Now that the pandemic has become the primary reason for our economic decline, allowing Wall Street to fade back into the shadows where they continue peddling toxic financial instruments, the state of Montana is already looking to tap the rainy day fund in anticipation of reduced state tax revenues. From the link:

During a news conference at the capitol, Bullock proposed using $75 million, or two thirds of the state’s rainy day reserve, to offset revenue drop offs from the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Bullock says transferring reserve dollars allows Montana to avoid cutting essential services or raising taxes, as other states have done this year.

Is the rainy day fund the ONLY large pool of money that can be tapped in order to help our community as it struggles financially amidst a pandemic? No, it is not.

The Headwaters Foundation in Montana is currently sitting on 100 million dollars. What is the Headwaters Foundation, you ask?

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might already know that the Headwaters Foundation was created from the sale of Community Medical Center, a non-profit hospital in Missoula. The money from the sale is SUPPOSED to benefit our community (if you would like to learn more about Headwaters, I wrote this post in 2018 and another post last summer)

Back in April, this 100 million dollar foundation threw some chump change at front-line workers, and the Missoulian happily gave them some good PR for it. From the link:

Some $450,000 to fund organizations on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic was pledged last week by the Missoula-based Headwaters Foundation.

“As the COVID-19 crisis rapidly became more widespread, staff talked extensively with our grantees to understand their changing needs. …,” said Headwaters CEO Brenda Solorzano in a Friday news release.

“This funding is meant to respond to what our grantees told us were the most urgent needs they see in our communities.”

This chump change was dispersed over SIX MONTHS AGO. What else has our 100 million dollar foundation done to help our community adapt to our NEW NORMAL?

I went looking for evidence that this foundation is helping our community, but didn’t find much. Headwaters has a blog that staff updates, but the last post is about summer camp.

I did find a post about philanthropy and Jeff Bezos at the Headwaters blog that I found interesting. Titled True Philanthropy Is More Than Money Delivered Fast, Headwaters staff member Brenda Solorzano has this to say about the world’s richest man:

I applaud Bezos for cutting the red tape and quickly getting money where it’s most needed; but what appears to be missing from his approach is a commitment to power sharing and collaboration with an emphasis on relationships. Without these two components, this type of funding approach runs the risk of being as challenging as some of the traditional philanthropic models it attempts to combat.  

Headwaters practices trust-based philanthropy, an approach that attempts to redefine the power dynamic between funders and grantees. Quiet conversations about how traditional philanthropy could reduce the barriers of its own making have been circling for years. Streamlined applications. Transparency. Multi-year, unrestricted funding. Grantees have been asking for these things, and some foundations have attempted to shift their grantmaking as a nod to these requests but, for a number of reasons, few have been able to fully adopt this approach. 

Headwaters, like Bezos, wants to reduce the burden on grantees that often comes with cumbersome applications and reports. We want to quickly get funding to those who need it. But we also want to build lasting relationships with the nonprofits we fund so that, together, we can move forward the vital work that brings about transformational change.

What a bunch of crap.

Headwaters, with their paid staff and 100 million dollar pool of loot, hasn’t updated its blog since summer. Meanwhile, little old me with no financial backing or paid staff, has put up dozens and dozens of posts about what is happening in Missoula and how people are struggling.

Speaking of money, if you value the writing I do here and want to support my work, you can throw me a donation at my about page. Any amount helps.

You can also buy my book of poems, titled WELCOME TO THE COVAXICON, by going to the ZACC’s online artist shop, or visiting the Loose Moose in downtown Missoula at 219 N. Higgins.

Thank you for reading.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to While Bullock Considers Tapping The Rainy Day Fund, What Is Headwaters Doing With Our 100 Million Dollars?

  1. Big Swede says:

    Here’s what Headwaters is doing with the money.


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