Juneau Announces 36 Communities Receive Graduation Matters Grants
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Allyson Hagen
Superintendent Denise Juneau announced the award of 36 grants to Montana schools and United Ways to increase the number of Montana students who graduate from high school prepared for college and careers, for a total of $206,000 to support local Graduation Matters initiatives across the state. This is up from 25 grants totaling $165,000 in 2013. The Office of Public Instruction was awarded $450,000 over three years from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation to support community-based Graduation Matters initiatives. In addition, State Farm Insurance ($10,000), Steele Reese Foundation ($20,000), AT&T ($20,000) and the Going to the Sun Rally Foundation ($3,000) provided funding to add to this year’s Graduation Matters Montana Challenge Fund grants.
"The statewide graduation rate is moving in the right direction due to the hard work happening at the local level across Montana," said Superintendent Juneau. “Hundreds of students have had their lives changed as a result of focused attention by educators, families and community members to ensure young people in Montana have the opportunity to achieve their educational and career goals.”
Since the launch of Graduation Matters Montana, the statewide dropout rate has been on the decline, and the graduation rate has gone up. Montana’s high school dropout rate has decreased from 5.0 percent in 2009 to 3.6 percent in 2013, and the graduation rate has increased from 80.7 percent in 2009 to 84.4 percent in 2013. This means that 772 fewer students dropped out in 2013 than in 2009. The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates Montana will see a $4.3 million annual boost to the state’s economy going forward and an increase of $5.1 million in spending on homes and a $600,000 increase in automobile sales. Collectively, the additional graduates will likely earn an additional $68.2 million over the course of their lifetimes, compared to if they had not graduated from high school.
“We are very pleased to see the impact that Graduation Matters Montana is having on communities across the state,” said Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “Since its launch in 2010, local GMM teams have helped hundreds more students graduate, leading to millions of dollars in savings and added boosts to our state’s economy. We have invested in the Graduation Matters Montana program because the strategy and implementation plan targets resources to schools that want to make a difference in the lives of the youth of our state.”
There are currently 43 Graduation Matters communities, and 74 percent of public high school students now attend a school with a Graduation Matters initiative. Graduation Matters communities have focused on identifying students most at risk of dropping out, developing dropout prevention strategies and interventions, building community support, increasing college-going rates, and offering students college and career exploration opportunities.
2014 Graduation Matters Montana Grantees:
Billings: $10,000 (United Way of Yellowstone County)
Box Elder: $3,500
Columbia Falls: $8,000
Cut Bank: $3,500
Graduation Matters Gallatin County (United Way of Gallatin County): $5,000
Great Falls: $10,000 (United Way of Cascade County)
Hays-Lodge Pole: $3,500
Hot Springs: $3,000
Miles City: $10,000
Rocky Boy: $3,500
St. Ignatius: $5,000
Thompson Falls: $10,000
Three Forks: $4,000
Additional information about the 36 Graduation Matters Challenge Fund grantees can be found here: