May 13, 2013 11:19 AM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
MISSOULA - Some money is on the way to Graduation Matters Missoula.
The Missoula County Public Schools program has been given a $5,000 Challenge Grant Fund from Montana's Office of Public Instruction (OPI) to support programs that are aimed at reducing the dropout rate.
The grant funding came thanks to a partnership between OPI and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, which awarded $450,000 in 2012 to OPI to be distributed over three years in support of Graduation Matters initiatives around the state.
This year, OPI received an additional $15,000 from State Farm Insurance to supplement the grant program.
The 2013 Challenge Grant awarded to Graduation Matters Missoula will be used to support expansion of "Youth Building Bridges" workshops in MCPS elementary classrooms, according to a news release.
The trainings will be done by the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) and are aimed at facilitating "positive school cultures, increase student engagement and support the transition of 5th grade and 6th grade students as they move into middle school."
This early intervention model will ultimately help to reduce drop-out rates in MCPS schools by providing students with the tools to succeed emotionally and academically as they move into a new school environment. A positive transition into grade 6 can also lay support as they transition again at grade nine into high school.
This 2013 Challenge Grant is the second that Graduation Matters Missoula has received from OPI. The program received a $3,600 Challenge Grant in late spring 2012 to launch the NCBI workshops in MCPS schools. This year's funding will allow expansion of the program.
School administrators say that Graduation Matters Missoula continues to make progress toward its mission of 100 percent graduation in MCPS schools.
MCPS graduation rates have risen consistently over the past three years, and were the highest of all AA districts in the state at 90.3% in 2012.