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January 2012Vol 3, Issue 1
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We can make a difference
Message From


It's a busy time here at MCUCD with tax season starting. After spending two solid weeks providing tax trainings around the state, my brain is, well, "taxed" in more ways than one! I'm finding that every-day conversations with friends include comments like "hey you know you can itemize that on your taxes, right?" I'm a lot of fun to be around right now (grin).


Looking past the tax details, it's heartwarming to think of the reach that the free tax program has in Montana. Last year, nearly 16,000 tax returns were filed at free VITA and AARP tax sites across the state. And the website had nearly 28,000 unique visitors wanting to learn more about how to get their taxes prepared for free, either at a local volunteer-run site or through free do-it-yourself online filing.


You can help out by spreading the word of free tax filing options detailed at Or better yet, consider volunteering at a local tax site. It's fun and rewarding...and Montana's tax volunteers are second to none! 


Jeanne Saarinen
Executive Director

In This Issue
Making a Difference
Candidate Training Schools
Rural Montana Saves
Public Participation in Voting
January Consumer Topic
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Making A Difference

Volunteer Tax Training


Each December and January community volunteers across Montana train to become certified tax preparers for local free tax sites. Over the last month the MCUCD team has been busy providing training via the tax telecourse series and at in-person trainings in Butte, Kalispell, Havre, and Billings. At least 100 volunteers participated in these trainings, and countless others accessed archived recordings of the trainings at  


Gil Oen - VITA Volunteer
Returning VITA Volunteer Gil Oen attending the tax class in
Havre last week. This will be Gil's fifth year volunteering at
Bear Paw Credit Union's VITA site in Havre.

Learning about tax training can be daunting, and we try to take the anxiety out of it by improving upon our training each year. This year we took the "Anatomy of a 1040" training on the road and got great feedback.


AARP Tax-Aide Montana's District Coordinator, Alice J. "Porki" Harris said, "The Anatomy of the 1040 is the perfect beginning to any tax class. It lays a solid foundation to build on for the entire week of training. Our class went from the beginner to those with over 30 years' experience in tax preparation. They all enjoyed and learned from Jeanne's presentation. I plan to implement the Anatomy of the 1040 into day one of all future classroom training."


Porki has volunteered with the AARP tax program for 20 years and has served as Lead Tax Instructor for the Kalispell area for the past 5 years.


The student evaluations gave MCUCD's VITA Manager Rachael Milne's telecourse training a unanimous rating of "1 - Very Satisfied". One volunteer commented, "I appreciated the telecourse and the fact that they are recorded and available for when I was unable to participate live. The presenter was completely prepared. She followed through with every single item that they said they would research and find us the answers to in the very next tele-conference or email. Very professionally presented."


But of course it's the volunteers that make the biggest impact.


Candidate Training Schools


Campaign School 2012 outfitted in a election-ish color and graphic scheme Next month, candidate training schools will be held in four Montana communities. These non-partisan sessions teach campaign managers and candidates about working with volunteers, fund raising, message development, communication, campaign and finance laws, writing a campaign plan, getting out the vote, election day activities, and other relevant campaign topics, including talking to the press. They are a collaborative effort of the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association, Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Credit Union Network (MCUN), and the Montana Association of Realtors. We hope you will encourage any member you know who is running (or is considering a run) for state, county, or local office to attend.

The brochure is available here with registration here. Contact Donya Parrish at MCUN for more information or for copies of brochures.

Rural Montana Saves

Helping Montanans Get Back to School and Work


We want you to spread the news about the Rural Montana Saves (RMS) program. RMS is a special matched savings program that helps Montana families with limited incomes increase the money they have for college or job training.


The program matches every dollar a participant saves at their participating credit union with three dollars. If a participant saves the maximum of $500, they will receive $1500 in matched funds. Once a participant completes the program goals we can assist with tuition, books, supplies, or other education or training related costs.


Eligible participants must commit to making regular savings deposits, completing a financial education course, participating in career counseling, and maintaining regular contact with an employment and training specialist.


Deanna, a Rural Montana Saves participants said, "I am the first in my family to go to college and believe my family did not understand the importance of education today. Rural Montana Saves enabled me to secure funding for my education so that I could continue classes".


To qualify individuals must be over the age of 18 with at least one minor child in the household (or be 16-19 and still in high school), live in a rural county, and meet income requirements. Determination of eligibility is done when applicants turn in their applications.


Rural Montana Saves is an awesome opportunity. Let's work together and encourage everyone who is interested to apply. To learn more, visit or call 1-800-546-1140.


Rural Montana Saves is a project of Rural Employment Opportunities, Montana's Credit Unions for Community Development, Student Assistance Foundation, and Montana State Extension Service. This project is funded (in part) under a contract with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The statements herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Department.


Free Non-Profit Advocacy Training

Public Participation in Voting Vote

Don't miss this FREE advocacy training opportunity! Nonprofit organizations serving Montanans can learn more about how to implement voter participation activities for upcoming elections. The training -- ideal for organizations providing direct service -- will provide participants with the skills and framework to launch a voter participation project. VITA sites might be an ideal place to offer people the chance to register to vote.

  • Where: The Lindley Center, 1102 E. Curtiss Ave, Bozeman, MT
  • When: January 26-27, 2012

Register today by contacting Rural Employment Opportunities (REO) at
1-800-546-1140 or online at


Sponsored by: Montana Organizing Project with support from REO and Center for Community Change.

Consumer Topic of the Month
Getting Ready for Tax Season 
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The beginning of the new year means more than resolutions; it also means the beginning of tax season! Taxes can be stressful, but thankfully Montana has a variety of free resources available for you to use.


Visit the Consumer Topic of the Month to learn more.