Superintendent Denise Juneau announced the award of 35 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 $203,000 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.
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