The primary goal of A VOICE-Art Vision & Outreach In Community Education is to foster excitement and confidence in youth who may not otherwise have this opportunity. It is our hope that the skills and self-confidence nurtured in literary and visual arts learning will provide tools for young people to aid them in their decisions and endeavors, to guide them toward success.
It is our mission to foster individual, group, community and cultural vision and expression through art, outreach, and education.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based on the Flathead Nation in western Montana, and we carry out projects in rural Tribal communities. Our arts education work is led by working artists and authors who are committed teachers and recognized for their work nationally and internationally. We amplify our work through partnerships with community leaders and teachers. We expect a serious commitment from the students and young people we serve. We provide them the tools to become expressive art makers, moving storytellers and engaged citizens. In addition to our daily work in local schools and communities, we collaborate with organizations beyond the beautiful Flathead Valley so the young people we serve can experience other peoples, landscapes and cultures and share their work with wider audiences. In everything we do, we are committed to reach out to and to have a positive impact on each young person we serve.
We serve all of the communities of the Flathead Nation, north from Dayton and Elmo, west to Hot Springs and south to Dixon and Arlee and in Lake and Sanders Counties in the State of Montana.
A VOICE-Art Vision & Outreach In Community Education was incorporated on June 21, 2006 by photographer David J. Spear and Polson, Montana native
Jill L. Erickson.
Jill and David, who have provided arts programming for decades (both in Montana and New York City), have a rich history of collaboration with other local non-profit organizations and educational institutions. In 2002 they founded Our Community Record at Two Eagle River School, an ongoing partnership with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, which has been funded through A VOICE-Art Vision & Outreach since the fall of 2006.
Our board is a diverse group of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experience. Their areas of expertise and leadership provide the organization with insights that are crucial to our work, particularly in the areas of education, society, and culture.
Our staff is small. We raise funds on a project-by-project basis so that the funding raised for a specific project goes towards that effort.
Our consultants provide us with teaching and logistical guidance so that our work is carried out and shared with the community.
Our volunteers are the people we come in contact within the schools and communities in which we work. It is their interest and involvement that makes our work a truly collaborative effort.
Jill L. Erickson
Associate Director & Co-Founder
Jill oversees the administrative aspects of
A VOICE, and is also actively involved in project development and grant writing for the organization.
We want to acknowledge and honor the service of our long-standing A VOICE Board Member Penny Kipp who passed away in 2020.
Penny Matt Kipp was a wife, mother, grandmother and sister to 11 siblings. Penny was born and raised in St. Ignatius, Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation. She was an active photo collector who archived her family and community photographs. In her spare time in summer she drove an ice cream truck around the neighborhood and the young people would come running from their homes when they heard the music play. Penny was passionate about the people of the Flathead Nation. As a Tribal member she encouraged all ages to pursue their dreams in their life-long learning journey. She was appointed by the Governor of Montana to serve on several boards and panels at the state level. With a bachelor's degree in sociology she worked in the areas of child protection services, juvenile probation and alcohol and drug prevention. In 1997 Penny received a M.Ed. from Gonzaga University. She served in several roles relevant to that degree, as the former Director and Scholarship Officer for the Tribal Education Department of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Director of Student Services at Salish Kootenai College.
Her daughter Tara said that Penny was excited, proud and dedicated to her work as a Board Member of A VOICE.
We miss her dearly.