iGraduate Montana Challenge Fund grants awarded to fifteen communities

Posted at 4:45 PM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 18:45:22-04

According to a press release from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, fifteen communities have been selected for iGraduate Montana Challenge Fund grants in the initial year of the new program. Grants of up to $10,000 were awarded to schools, colleges, and non-profits through a competitive application process.

The iGraduate Montana initiative is in partnership with the Office of Public Instruction and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. This new initiative leverages the successes and lessons learned from Graduation Matters Montana. iGraduate Montana continues a focus on high school graduation, and expands the scope to include workforce development activities, such as connecting students to high-demand career pathways, and/or post-high school education opportunities. The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will be growing the iGraduate Montana initiative over the next four years by increasing the number of proposals funded each year.

With nearly 40 applications submitted, a selection committee determined the top fifteen proposals based on criteria such as demonstration of need, scope of impact, and strength of partnerships. Below is a list of successful applicants listed in alphabetical order:

  • Colstrip High School
  • Columbia Falls High School
  • Custer County High School
  • Fort Peck Community College
  • Great Falls United Way
  • Helena College
  • Livingston High School
  • Lockwood School District
  • Montana State University and Ravalli Valley
  • Polson High School
  • Pryor School Districts and Plenty Coups High School
  • Red Lodge High School
  • Rocky Boy High School
  • St. Ignatius High School
  • University of Montana – Western

Grants ranged from $2,000 to $10,000 and many focused on bringing relevant career and college skills to students through strategies such as apprenticeship activities, work-based learning, mentoring, dual enrollment, career fairs, and college visits. The grant awardees will be partnering with Montana businesses and non-profits to create opportunities for students to explore in-demand careers and gain real world experience.

“Montana will be facing challenges over the next ten years to address anticipated workforce shortages due to our aging population and growing economy. These grants will play a vital role in helping students understand the importance of graduating from high school and continuing on to either a college or an apprenticeship program,” said Clayton Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education.

“To be relevant in the 21st Century, the learning environment must include a full range of options for youth. That starts with students making use of technology to expand their academic options and integrating career readiness programs, with the ultimate goal of giving our youth the knowledge and skills to pursue their dreams. iGraduate Montana is uniquely designed to meet these goals,” said Mike Halligan, Executive Director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

“Congratulations to the communities who have been awarded iGraduate grants! We must prepare all Montana students to be college, career, and community ready. I look forward to seeing results for our students in the first year of this program,” said Elsie Arntzen, State Superintendent.

Additional information can be found at:

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