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The Gianforte Family Foundation Pledges $500,000 to Montana Colleges

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The Gianforte Family Foundation Pledges $500,000 to Montana Colleges -

For many college hopefuls in Montana, the opportunity to attend a university in Montana is contingent upon receiving a scholarship, college grant, or some other form of financial aid. As far as the state’s college education ranking for people 25 and up with a bachelor’s degree or higher is concerned, Montana falls somewhere around 19th, which is not too bad. However, the truth is that Montana is still struggling to educate its population because of the rising cost of living and the rising cost of higher education; most Montanans just cannot afford both. As of the end of 2014, the average cost for a two year degree at one of Montana’s two year institutions is $10,283 and a four year degree averages $13,528. Well recently, Montana’s college students and college hopefuls received some great news from Montana’s Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education, John Cech. He announced on December 18, 2014 that a $500,000 college grant gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation will be available for students who major in manufacturing and energy industry programs at Montana University System two-year colleges. The scholarship is the brainchild of Greg Gianforte, founder of RightNow Technologies. Located in Bozeman, RightNow Technologies employed over 1000 Montanans before Gianforte sold the company to the Oracle Corporation for $1.5 billion.

As a business and community leader, Gianforte is aware that putting back some of that money into the community that helped to build his success is the best way to show his appreciation and continue his philanthropic efforts toward Montana’s public education system. The $500,000 will create scholarships and opportunities for students to receive training to become certified or degreed welders, machinists, and more. Across the nation, education and employment are critical factors in eliminating poverty. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Montana’s unemployment rate as of November 2014 was 4.3 percent. In comparison to the national unemployment rate number released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 5.8 percent, employment in the state of Montana is looking up. Gianforte attributes the steady employment rate to Montana’s growing manufacturing industry. However, he contends that “more skilled workers” are needed to meet workforce shortages, and “more high-wage jobs” will make the difference between living comfortably and planning for retirement versus living from check-to-check and waiting to retire with social security benefits.

The Gianforte Family Foundation will allow the Student Assistance Foundation to administer the college scholarships beginning in the spring of 2015. Students who are enrolled in manufacturing related programs at eligible colleges will be able to apply for some of the $125,000 worth of grant based financial aid each semester until the money is exhausted. Student eligibility will be based on need with priority given to veterans and low-income students. Scholarships will be awarded to students at the following 13 colleges and will cover up to 50 percent of tuition costs:

  • Bitterroot College
  • Montana State University Billings
  • Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell
  • Montana State University – Northern
  • Highlands College of Montana Tech
  • Little Bighorn College
  • Fort Peck Community College
  • Miles Community College in Miles City
  • Dawson Community College in Glendive
  • Great Falls College
  • Helena College- University of Montana
  • Missoula College – University of Montana
  • Gallatin College – University of Montana

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