MT hands out $55K for school breakfasts

Here’s today’s new news from the Governor of Montana’s office:

Governor, First Lady Announce $55,000 in Grants for School Breakfast Programs

HELENA – Today, as a part of their Montana Breakfast After the Bell initiative, Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock awarded $55,000 in grants to schools implementing new school breakfast programs or transitioning to models that increase participation. The grants were made possible with support from Share Our Strength, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Neptune Aviation.

“Childhood hunger is an important, but solvable issue in Montana,” Governor Bullock said. “Through these grants we’re removing an obstacle that many schools face to providing nutritious breakfast to their students. Montanans can be proud to know that progress is being made to ensure children don’t face the school day with an empty stomach.”

The Bullocks launched the Montana Breakfast after the Bell initiative to increase participation in school breakfast and make it a part of the school day by serving it after the school day begins. The initiative aims to ensure that all kids can have a healthy start to the day by helping schools adopt proven breakfast models that increase participation, such as breakfast in the classroom and grab n’ go breakfasts. One of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.

On average, school breakfast participation rises to more than 70 percent when schools implement a Breakfast after the Bell model versus 30 percent with a traditional model that serves breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts.

Kids who start their school day with breakfast score higher on math tests, attend more days of school, and are more likely to graduate high school.

The schools that received grants in the first grant cycle are:

  • Lockwood Middle & Intermediate Schools – $5,360
  • Hardin School District – $11,814
  • Fairview School – $4,200
  • Power School – $1,500
  • Rocky Boy School – $5,000
  • W F Morrison School – $3,000
  • Sunburst High School  – $1,500
  • Superior School – $5,000
  • Loy Elementary – $5,000
  • Lincoln Elementary – $5,000
  • Arlee Elementary School – $750
  • Arlee Junior High School – $750
  • Arlee High School – $750
  • Park City School $3,900
  • Valley View Elementary – $1150

“Montana students deserve every opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, hunger and poor nutrition are providing additional challenges to many students in the state,” First Lady Lisa Bullock said. “Students in these schools will now have access to a nutritious breakfast that will prepare them to excel throughout the school day.”

Of the 859 schools across Montana, there are 51 districts and 87 schools serving breakfast after the bell.  Thirty-two of these schools started or plan to start serving a breakfast after the bell model this school year.

Research continues to show that children who eat a balanced breakfast are more likely to develop healthy eating habits, visit the school nurse less frequently, and maintain a healthy weight.  Despite the many benefits of breakfast, many students come to school too hungry to learn. In a recent survey of educators, three out of four teachers and principals say they see kids who regularly come to school hungry.

Schools interested in starting a new breakfast program and/or making breakfast part of the school day can contact the Montana No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Coordinator, Rosie Cody at or by phone at 444-3925.

Montana No Kid Hungry continues to accept grant applications on a rolling basis with hopes of announcing the second round of grants in March 2015.  Schools can apply by visiting this link: and the access code is MTBREAKFAST2014 (case-sensitive).

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Montana gets $12.5M for school climate, safety, student mental health

Well, this is big news. Before you read the official news release trumpeting the $12.5 million Montana is getting, I recommend you check out this video that explains what the Montana Behavioral Initiative is and how it is changing education right here in Missoula.

Montana Wins $12.5 Million in Grants
to Address School Climate, School Safety and Mental Health Needs of Students
Helena, MT – Superintendent Denise Juneau announced today that the Office of Public Instruction has received three grants totaling more than $12.5 million to improve school climate and school safety and support the mental and emotional health of Montana students. The Office of Public Instruction was awarded a $3.75 million School Climate Transformation grant, an $8.5 million Project AWARE grant, and a $250,000 School Emergency Planning grant.

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New school year brings new round of federal grant funding

Three cheers for reading and writing!

Juneau and Tester Announce Extension

of $4.9 Million Striving Readers Grant

Forty-Two Schools and Pre-Kindergarten Centers

Able to Continue Literacy Efforts

Helena, MT – Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and U. S. Senator Jon Tester announced 42 Montana schools and pre-kindergarten centers will continue to receive federal grant funding for the next two school years to advance literacy skills, reading and writing for students from early childhood through grade 12. Montana will receive $4.9 million for the 2014-2015 school year. In 2012, the competitive grant was awarded to only six states. To date, more than 10,000 students and 850 teachers and staff members have benefited from the Striving Readers grant.

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Local graduation efforts to get more than $200K in grants

Today, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau will be in town to announce 35 grants to area schools totaling more than $200,000. The grants are all aimed at promoting higher graduation rates.

Read on for more:

Juneau to Announce Grant Awards with

Missoula-Area Graduation Matters Schools

$203,000 Granted to Improve Graduation Rates

and College and Career Readiness

Missoula, MT – Superintendent Denise Juneau will be joined by six Missoula-area schools for the announcement of 35 grants awarded 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 $203,000 to support local Graduation Matters initiatives across the state. This is up from 25 grants totaling $165,000 in 2013.

Juneau will be joined by school and community members from Arlee, Hamilton, Hot Springs, Missoula, St. Ignatius, and Thompson Falls.

“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.”

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.

WHO: Superintendent Juneau, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Mike Halligan, school leaders, students, and community members from Arlee, Hamilton, Hot Springs, Missoula, St. Ignatius and Thompson Falls.

WHAT: Announcement of $203,000 in grants to Graduation Matters communities and a preview of community plans in 2014-2015.

WHERE: Northern Pacific Depot, Lobby, Railroad Street and N. Higgins (by the X’s), Missoula

WHEN: Wednesday, March 12, 2:00 pm

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Money money money! For Montana schools

Today the governor of Montana announced a whole heckuva lotta grant money for improving schools throughout the state.

The grants are from the Quality Schools Planning Grants Program. Missoula’s elementary district is set to get $25,000 and Missoula’s high schools will get another $25,000. Read on for the complete list of totals for 36 different districts throughout Montana:

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State of the Young Child to be held on St. Patrick’s Day

There’s not much time left to register for this Thursday’s State of the Young Child luncheon and symposium in Missoula. Yes, this Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, too. So wear something green to the luncheon.

This year will mark the sixth annual such gathering hosted by the Healthy Start Council of the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth in the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants. The public – and especially parents – is encouraged to attend the very affordably priced event (it’s just $5 per parent, $7.25 for others; and free childcare is available on a limited basis).

For your money, you get lunch and the words of Montana Kids Count research analyst Thale Dillon; Missoula County Public Schools’ Carol Ewen, who will be talking about the literacy readiness of incoming kindergartners; parent and inspirational speaker Karen Marsolek of Made You Think LLC; and Richard Manning, a research associate in childhood trauma at the University of Montana’s Institute for Educational Research and Services and the National Native Children’s Trauma Center.

It’s all taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Thursday, March 17, at the City Life Teen Center, located at 1515 Fairview Ave. For more information call Susan Barmeyer at the Healthy Start Council at 721-3000 ext. 1022 or e-mail

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Teen philanthropists bring tales of Brazil’s orphans back to Missoula

Speaking of good parenting, somebody is sure raising these kids right. The five members of the Missoula Youth Philanthropy Club recently returned from a 10-day visit to Brazil, where they hung out with some 200 fellow teenagers at the Betel Orphanage.

They did so with a big boost of community support thanks to the Missoula Community Foundation. And along the way, “the club raised $6,800 for the Horses for Orphans program, which also operates similar programs in India and Mozambique.”

The club is looking for new recruits to replace the members who will be graduating this spring. AND it is also looking for worthwhile projects on which to bestow grants of up to $1,500. So if you know a teenager who might fit the bill, encourage him or her to look into the youth philanthropy club. And if you know of a good group that could use a grant, encourage its members to apply. The current application process will be open through April 1. Here’s where to find more information.

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Early education news ping-pong

I get regular, always positive news releases on the state of K-12 education in Montana from the state Office of Public Instruction. Often, I dutifully post the releases on this blog for readers.

Naturally, I didn’t hear a peep from OPI about this latest news, which is based on a national study that dealt Montana a failing grade for our math and English standards:

“Montana’s English language arts standards ’are among the worst in the country,’ the study’s three authors wrote.

Findings on Montana’s math standards were equally woeful.”

Ai yi yi.

Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau shrugged off the findings, pointing out that the study failed to include a key portion of the state’s standards, and noting how well Montana has done in other national studies.

So it’s the battle of the studies, apparently.

Meanwhile, the OPI broke some more positive news: Montana is set to take in $11.5 million in Department of Education grants to improve some of our worst-performing schools. Here’s the release, below.

– MM

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