OPI and SAF Award $50,000 in Grants to Support College-Going and College-Readine


Thursday, December 6, 2012
By Allyson Hagen
(406) 444-3160

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
Thursday, December 6, 2012

CONTACTS:

Allyson Hagen, OPI, 406.444.3160, ahagen2@mt.gov
Carolynn
Bright, SAF, 406.495.7506, CBright@safmt.org

OPI and SAF Award $50,000 in Grants to Support College-Going and College-Readiness

Missoula, MT — Today, Superintendent Denise Juneau and Kelly Cresswell, vice president of Foundation Activities at Student Assistance Foundation (SAF), announced the 10 Graduation Matters communities who will be receiving $50,000 in grants from the Graduation Matters Montana Student Assistance Foundation College Readiness Fund. Each community will receive $5,000. 

Said Superintendent Juneau, "This strategic investment of funding is expected to bring in more than $2 million dollars for Montana students and families for college. It is exciting to see Graduation Matters communities setting high goals to reach out to and engage students and families as they prepare for life after high school." 

By increasing the number of students in their schools who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it is estimated Montana students and their families will receive $2.2 million in grant awards for their college education. 

Other activities that will be supported by the grant include: conducting focus groups that will include nearly 300 students and parents to help schools understand the barriers Montana students face accessing college, engaging local businesses to provide career exploration opportunities for middle school students, conducting college visits and providing scholarships for college and dual-enrollment college courses. 

“SAF is eager to work directly with these schools to help more Montana students plan and prepare for postsecondary education,” Cresswell said. “Working together, we can help Montana students achieve their educational goals for the future.” 

Inspired by Missoula's Graduation Matters Missoula initiative, Superintendent Juneau launched Graduation Matters Montana in 2010 and aims to cut Montana’s dropout rate in half to 2.5 percent by 2014. Currently, 28 communities have signed on as Graduation Matters communities, including all of Montana's largest school districts. Sixty-five percent of Montana students attend a school with a Graduation Matters initiative. 

"This grant gives us an opportunity to work more closely with the Student Assistance Foundation to provide resources that we believe will increase the number of Missoula students and families applying for and receiving financial aid for college or other post-graduate training programs," said Dr. Apostle. "Applying online for financial assistance for college can be challenging. We will be working with students and parents to improve communication and identify non-traditional methods to support them in the application process. In the end, we want all of our students to have the financial resources they need to move successfully into the next phase of their lives." 

By 2018, it is expected that more than 60 percent of jobs in Montana are going to require training and education beyond high school. 

Communities Receiving Awards from the Graduation Matters Montana Student Assistance Foundation College Readiness Fund:

Anaconda, Billings, Great Falls, Hamilton, Heart Butte, Laurel, Livingston, Miles City, Missoula, and Wolf Point 

More information about Graduation Matters Montana can be found at: http://graduationmatters.mt.gov

About Student Assistance Foundation

Student Assistance Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Montana corporation that provides students with knowledge and tools to pursue and fund their postsecondary education.  Funds generated by SAF are returned to Montanans in the form of education grants and public benefit programs - to date more than $25 million.  For more information, visit www.safmt.org or www.SmartAboutCollege.org.

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