Education taps the immeasurable potential of the mind. Reaching children through early childhood education, after-school learning programs, post-secondary and graduate scholarships help our young people get the start they deserve. Providing higher education scholarships helps build a strong educational foundation for future leaders.
SPARK! Arts Integration
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the city of Missoula, Missoula County Public Schools, and a wide array of local arts organizations have teamed up to help bring our community a John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Any Given Child Initiative. The program, developed by the Kennedy Center, focuses on ensuring equal access to diverse arts learning opportunities for any given child in our K-12 public school system. We believe that the Arts have a collective power to ignite the imagination, spark innovation through creativity, and transform learning. The Missoula Any Given Child program has been re-branded as SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning.
SPARK! works in collaboration with artists, classroom teachers, university staff, school administration, and volunteers to ensure that the arts are an essential part of every school day. SPARK! promotes Arts Enhancement, Arts Integration, Art for Art’s Sake, and a program called STEM to STEAM: Science Technology Engineering Arts & Math.
EdReady Montana Academic Readiness Program
EdReady, is a curriculum from the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is designed to improve the academic readiness of students for academic and career success with the ultimate goal of greatly reducing the number of youth required to take remedial courses in college.
In 2014, The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation made a generous donation to the Montana Digital Academy (MTDA) at The University of Montana so that it could launch the statewide version of the EdReady program, EdReady Montana.
EdReady Montana is a Math readiness tool available at no cost to Montana schools from middle school through college. Any student can work with the MTDA to use existing assessments or set up custom program to measure math readiness for a variety of educational goals, and then study the online resources in their custom study path. In the next year, English will be added to the EdReady Montana program.
The Washington’s believe that Montana’s children must achieve at higher levels if they are to fulfill their own dreams and compete in a global workforce.
SHAPE P-20 and SHAPE 2.0: Success for All Students
Supported by a multi-year grant by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, SHAPE P-20 and SHAPE 2.0 is a partnership between the University of Montana and Missoula County Public Schools to create a 21st century learning environment.
The SHAPE P-20 and SHAPE 2.0 programs goals are to improve school attendance, increase graduation rates, improve education test scores, implement a district-wide International Baccalaureate program, health science, financial, and digital arts academies, and blended learning that integrates technology into the traditional classroom environment. The program hopes to achieve this by strengthening the relationships between school, classroom, teacher and student, and, by promoting unique and engaging lifetime learning experiences from birth to career.
Some of the SHAPE P-20 and SHAPE 2.0 initiatives include:
- A STEM/Robotics program, and a STEM for Girls program — helping students explore careers in science, technology engineering and math.
- A program aimed at raising the physical activity level of Missoula students, which in turn helps to improve academic attendance and performance.
- Professional development of teachers, including a K-8 STEM Teaching Certificate, and training for school principals to help them become leaders and agents of change.
- Establishing community and family support programs to address the inequities in education that are established before children even begin kindergarten.
Graduation Matters Montana
Graduation Matters Montana works to decrease drop-out rate and increase the graduation rate of Montana Schools.
Since 2012, the Office of Public Instruction and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation have worked together to allow 53 Montana communities to participate in the Graduation Matters program.
Communities that apply for the challenge fund received up to $10,000 to implement successful dropout prevention strategies.
All sorts of Montana communities are joining Graduation Matters, including AA schools, smaller, more rural schools, and schools on or near our state’s Indian Reservations. Seventy-five percent of high school students attend a Graduation Matters school, and over 10,000 students have taken the pledge to graduate. It is projected that Graduation Matters will be able to cut the statewide dropout rate in half.
Horatio Alger Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has been a partner of the Horatio Alger Scholarship Association since 2004. Each year the Foundation supports fifty $5,000 scholarships for students attending the University of Montana and Montana State University or one of their affiliates. This scholarship is matched by the university and the Horatio Alger Association contributes $2,000 for a total scholarship of $12,000 disbursed over the course of the recipient’s college career.
The Dennis R. Washington Achievement Scholarship is available to Horatio Alger Scholars nationwide. This prestigious graduate scholarship allows recipients to receive up to $90,000 to complete a Ph.D. program and up to $60,000 to complete a master’s degree program.
Named after the 19th century author, Horatio Alger, Jr., The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. was founded in 1947 to inspire the nation’s youth to continue to strive for the American Dream.
The Association is dedicated to the belief that “hard work, honesty, and determination can conquer all obstacles” and it continues today, to educate America’s youth on the opportunities, both personal and economic, available to them through the American free enterprise system.
Early Learning Matters
Born of a firm belief that parents are their children’s first, best teachers, the Early Learning Matters Program (ELM) partners with parents and the community to prepare children from birth to age five to succeed in school.
The ELM program intentionally seeks out low income parents, teen parents, parents who have not graduated from high school, unemployed parents, pregnant teens, parents in the court system, parents who have limited extended family support or parents who have unhealthy living arrangements.
Everything created for the ELM program is freely available for other school and organizations to use.