In April 2010, then Belgrade City Judge, Michele Snowberger was concerned for youth in Belgrade. She was seeing more and more young kids in her court for traffic, alcohol, tobacco, and gambling violations. These youth would talk about their lives and what brought them into the courts. A common thread included a lack of connection to family, school, and community. They spoke about boredom and no aspiration for their futures.
The Belgrade Youth Forum formed in 2010 comprised of more than twenty community leaders, parents, and youth whose mission was to encourage and promote positive youth development. The group worked to create activities and increase opportunities for youth in Belgrade, to enhance youth-school-parent-community relationships, and to prevent alcohol and drug use.
As the Belgrade Youth Forum, we hosted dances at the middle and high schools, brought in guest speakers to talk about alcohol and drug abuse, and conducted a community survey to see what local kids were interested in.
A local skate park ranked high on the list. Through dedication and perseverance, and in partnership with the Gallatin Valley Skate Association and incredible support from our community, the Belgrade Skatepark opened in 2016 at Lewis and Clark Park. The skate park has been a huge success, with kids of all ages using it year-around.
Over the years, we’ve funded various community groups and projects. Some examples include Soles without Limits, the Belgrade Library, and the Belgrade Robotics Club.
In 2016, we held an open call for youth-created art. We received over 40 submissions which we used to cover twelve utility boxes around town. In 2017, the third phase of the project wrapped trashcans in Lewis and Clark Park with youth art.
2016 also brought on another big change. The Board of Directors engaged in a strategic planning exercise and uncovered a need to expand its focus to the entire community. With this realization came the name change to Belgrade Community Coalition.
Last year was exciting for the BCC! In 2017, we worked with 100 incredible volunteers and business and organizations partners to help make the Festival of Lights a stand-out event in the valley. We began forming research and planning for our trails project and had a great time gathering ideas for where new trails, paths, and walkways might be located from citizens at events throughout the summer.
Also in 2017, We partnered with other nonprofits in town to make Give Big Gallatin Valley a major event for Belgrade and were wowed by the way our community rallied together.
We were honored to have the chance to give a start-up grant to the new farmer's market, the Belgrade Community Market. We added board members and started dreaming up plans for 2018.