FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 1, 2015
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, Governor’s Office, 406.444.9725
Bob Murray, Vice President, Corporate/Marketing Communications, USA Funds 317.806.1283
Emilie Ritter Saunders, Communications Director, Office of Public Instruction, 406.444-3160
Great Falls, Mont. – At a celebration at Great Falls High School, Governor Steve Bullock today announced that Montana received a $1 million grant from USA Funds to support college and career readiness programs in high schools, colleges, and tribal colleges. Bullock was joined by Superintendent Denise Juneau, USA Funds President and CEO Bill Hansen, Jobs for American Graduates President Ken Smith, and Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian.
“Our greatest responsibility as a state is ensuring that Montana students have access to the skills, knowledge, and experience that will help them succeed throughout their lives,” Bullock said. “Through this grant, we’ll expand opportunities for veterans, Native Americans, and adult students to gain valuable career skills, workforce experience and college credit. I’m pleased that we’ll be able to build on our state’s efforts to find innovative ways to support student success.”
The grant will support college and career readiness in three ways:
- Expand the successful Jobs for Montana’s Graduates (JMG) program in tribal communities to support high school graduation and acquisition of employment skills. (JMG is a branch of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates program, for which Bullock serves as vice-chair).
- Provide prior learning assessments for veterans at a Montana University System institution, ensuring they get academic credit for faculty-validated knowledge, skills and experience gained during their service.
- Create the American Indian Success-Tribal College Apprenticeship program to bolster career training opportunities at Montana tribal colleges.
“In keeping with our focus on Completion With a Purpose, promoting student success in college and careers, USA Funds is delighted to provide $1 million to support these initiatives to enhance success in education and employment for Native American residents and military veterans in Montana,” Hansen said. “USA Funds partners with a select group of states, like Montana, that are pursuing new approaches to education and training, tied to the needs of the state’s economy. These three innovative programs will bolster student success, accelerate completion of postsecondary education, and deliver valuable work experience and training to two underserved communities.”
After initially meeting with USA Funds last summer to discuss their shared commitment to student success, Governor Bullock partnered with the Montana Department of Labor, the Montana University System, tribal colleges and the Office of Public Instruction to develop the three proposals to support college and career readiness and expand opportunities for veterans and Native American students.
“American Indian students attending a Jobs for Montana’s Graduates program are far more likely to graduate -- at a 90 percent rate,” Juneau said. “Students who participate in JMG find relevancy in the program that connects them to real-world experiences and prepares them for meaningful careers.”
In addition to the $1 million award, Ken Smith of JAG awarded Montana the JAG National 5 of 5 award on Tuesday. The award recognizes state programs for achieving or surpassing the '5 of 5' performance outcomes including a graduation rate of 90%, positive outcomes rate of 80%, employment rate of 60%, full-time jobs rate of 60%, and full-time placement rate of 80%.
"On behalf of the entire JAG Board of Directors, congratulations to Jobs for Montana’s Graduates for receiving the JAG National 5 of 5 Award, our highest performance award, for 8 years. I would like to express great thanks to USA Funds for their critically important efforts to expand Jobs for Montana's Graduates, as well as for their investment in four other JAG State Affiliate programs," said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Chair of the JAG Board of Directors. "Through this investment and the leadership of Governor Steve Bullock, Vice Chair of JAG, we are excited for the launch of this significant expansion in serving Montana's American Indian youth population to support them as they work towards success in academia and career pathways alike."
USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at www.usafunds.org.
Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a 35-year old non-profit youth development program dedicated to helping at-risk young people graduate from high school and make successful transitions to postsecondary education and meaningful employment. JAG has served one million youth since its inception and is currently helping nearly 50,000 young people each year in approximately 1,000 communities in 32 states to achieve academic, career and life success.