Hot Topic — Are we really achieving the American Dream?

In a recent report called Achieving The American Dream, released by The Burghard Group (, Montana ranks as the #1 state in which to live the “American Dream’. You can get a copy of the report here.

To this, I say, Really?

Maybe we are the #1 state in which to live the American Dream… in the opinion of some.

Maybe we are the #1 state for entrepreneurs (according to a Montana State government website).

Maybe we are one of the nation’s best kept secrets, and stand above all other states for “Badasses” according to a Buzzfeed article.

If Montana is the #1 state in which to live the American Dream — whatever that means — you may have a hard time convincing the children who live here.

KidsCount, a national and statewide non-partisan, non-political non-profit just released some other rankings Montana holds you may be interested in:

Montana ranks #28 in overall child well-being. You can see the article here. Now, perhaps you think that’s not too bad. Heck, that might even sound pretty good to you… just below the middle. But if I told you that we’ve looked at your child or grandchild and he or she ranks below average in well-being, how would you feel about that? I know that it would bother me! I want my children to be at the top when it comes to child well-being, don’t you? We should not be okay with our state ranking below average.

But here’s a kicker… in that same report, Montana ranks dead last when it comes to child health! The worst in the nation in this broad category… for two years in a row!


There are other numbers we need to be aware of, as well… like the State of Montana has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the nation, and that 20% of Montana’s children live below the poverty line. Do you know what constitutes the Federal Poverty level for 2013? For a family of four it is an annual income of only $23,550! Try feeding your family of four on that! And in Montana, twenty-percent of our children are living in families that make less than that!

We need to elevate the well-being of Montana’s children. And when we do that, we will elevate the future of those children, and thus, elevate the future of this great state!

ChildWise Institute is doing something about the well-being of Montana’s children, and we want you to join us.

We are starting an initiative… a movement… called Elevate Montana; elevating the well-being and future of Montana’s children. We’re starting by presenting The ACE Study Summit on September 26th and 27th in Helena, Montana.

The ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) is a scientific study directly linking adverse childhood experiences to negative health and social outcomes in adulthood. It was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. The implications are staggering, but the motivation for change is inspiring! Elevate Montana’s ACE Study Summit is intended to inform, inspire, and motivate community and state leaders toward actions that will reduce adverse childhood experiences in today’s children so they may become healthier adults, which will result in a healthier Montana.

Perhaps we may one day truly be a state in which living the American Dream is possible
even for its children.

Stay tuned and check back with us frequently as we begin the movement of positive change for our children!

Todd Garrison
Executive Director – Curator
ChildWise Institute

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