February 23rd, 2021

(GMF awards over $277,000 in grants)


Bureau of Business and Economic Research, University of Montana: $4500 for A Montana Field Guide to 2020 Election
The Greater Montana Foundation trustees engaged the BBER, with whom we have worked before, for this webinar, with the leadership of trustee emeritus William Whitsitt. The purpose was to better educate Montana citizens about what to look for and understand in Public opinion polls and communication research – characterized perhaps most frequently by public opinion polls - can have multiple purposes and effects in a political season. In our representative democracy it is important for media and citizens alike to have basic understanding of types of public opinion polling done in Montana, and that will undoubtedly increase prior to the November general elections. The Montana Field Guide to 2020 Election Polls webinar explored all these topics. Attendees included primarily media representatives because of their key roles in analyzing and interpreting polling results – and asking questions about them - but also private- and public-sector organizations, including government, and citizens. There was no charge for the webinar, which was very favorably received.
Friends of MTPBS: $40,000 in continued support for the Montana Friends of PBS Program Fund, for broadcast and online, telling Montana’s story by producing programs that examine Montanan’s current pubic and civic affairs; the state’s rich lifestyle and culture and its complex history. In addition to numerous programs, including Backroads of Montana; 11th and Grant; and The Rundown with Jackie Coffin, this grant also supports a documentary in the planning stages, on the Freemen standoff in eastern Montana, between armed militia claiming a new township, “Justus Township, “ and FBI agents and other law enforcement. Other documentaries are also planned. Funds support 2020 election coverage, a partnership with University of Montana on “Montana Big Sky Poll of Montana voters.”
Montana Broadcasters Association: GMF partnered with MBA with $2000 for a debate between Senate Candidates and $2621 for a primary debate between gubernatorial candidates. A grant of $17,240 was awarded for a scaled down, virtual ceremony for the annual EB awards for broadcast excellence. The “EBs” recognize excellence in a variety of categories through a competitive process, encouraging and rewarding the best of Montana broadcasting. They are named in honor of broadcast pioneer E.B. Craney, GMF founder, and funded annually by GMF. The “EBs” recognize excellence in a variety of categories through a competitive process, encouraging and rewarding the best of Montana broadcasting.


Montana Free Press: $20,000 for the third season of the Long Streets Project, continuing GMF’s support for this series of on-line stories using multimedia journalism to explore economic issues and trends facing Montanans. Long Streets features in-depth reporting, with uniquely comprehensive coverage of the state’s economy, and a subsection of coverage focusing on the economic impacts of Covid 19 pandemic. Web-based stories, which appear on the website of the Montana Free Press, are available for re-publication by commercial and non-commercial Montana news outlets, including broadcaster websites and daily and weekly newspapers.
Montana Historical Society: $15,000 to MHS State Historic Preservation Office for Montana’s African-American Heritage. This documentary will record and disseminate the history of an under-represented group, African Americans, in Montana, telling this story through historic places. Montana Historical Society has, over the past 14 years, gathered information about black Montanans and their history and created an interactive website, which will be featured in the film.
Montana Preservation Alliance: $5500 for the second chapter of “All Nations – Butte Ethnic Heritage” with radio broadcasts and Rich-Media Online Exhibits. This is part of the “All Nations” program, which features in various ways the diversity of nations which built Butte and our state. This project will feature stories of four groups, nationalities, who have been involved in this history, but may not be as well known. Including research and workshops, original material and oral histories, they will be broadcast by Butte Broadcasting and on an online website exhibit. (The first series was sponsored by the Butte-Silverbow Archives, which was unable, because of Covid, to submit a 2020 grant application, so MPA assumed this role.)
Montana Public Radio: $20,000 in continued program support, for radio, online and streaming, in areas such as general economic reporting. This includes continuing programs, such as Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Entrepreneurs; the Richest Hill, future history of American’s biggest Superfund site; and The Write question.
Montana Wilderness Association: $5500 of on-going support for Trail of the Week: Supporting Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Economy. This series of 52 one-minute radio spots feature lesser-known trails on public lands throughout Montana, with narratives featuring trail highlights. The program, the website and a new TV PSA, to be broadcast on PBS, available digitally and available to commercial networks, also emphasizes support for local businesses in each trail’s area, especially important during this era of Covid 19.


Beartooth Films: $10,000 for continued support of “Return,” the story of a Montana veteran who returns to Vietnam for the first time since the war, accompanied by his son. This is a feature length film documentary of the veteran retracing his steps, reckoning with the past, while sharing reflections and insights from the war with his son. This includes a testimony of living with PTSD, and the vet’s reconnection with the Montagnards with whom he lived in Vietnam. The documentary is important for people to understand the war and its hardships then and in returning and encourage communication between generations.


Extreme History Project: $8000 for this project intended to bring Montana history to life through the stories of our people. These will be stories of those who have made an impact on our state, including stories not so well known about Montana’s Native American communities and African American communities. Each vignette will feature expert interviews, historic images, videos and, if possible, primary sources. Four vignettes will form a documentary for MTPBS and help Montana’s history come alive.


MAPS Media Institute: $53,500 total: $28,500 in continued support for the award-winning MAPS Media Institute free after-school program serving four county schools, with outreach programs to rural and reservation communities. The public/private partnership integrates science, technology, engineering, the arts and math concepts within a media arts and service learning curriculum, including an entrepreneurial program; $25,000 for the MAPS Media Mobile Lab, the statewide outreach program. In response to urgent needs and often lack of opportunity in other rural and tribal communities, MAPS is working with school districts, community partners and donors to provide week-long workshops free of charge to all students for the workshops.


Crow Language Consortium: $8000, as part of a Crow language revitalization project, to help produce a YouTube children’s video series, featuring native language speakers in both Crow (Apsaalooke) and Northern Cheyenne, reading children’s picture books. The stories are from books in the native language, which the children are reading. This entire project, including the video series, helps preserve important native history and culture, while research shows that the benefits of second language acquisition includes increased grades in all school subjects, higher attendance and graduation rates and better family-school relationships.


Artemis Common Ground: $10,000 in continued program support for Homeground Radio, Changes and Choices in the American West, which strives to offer a vision of the rural west emphasizing that a healthy economy and conserving our environment are interdependent, and that by working together we can achieve both.


Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium: $2500 in continued support for Bug Bites, a successful series of insect and arthropod educational podcast, created with Montana Public Radio. The goal is to further the organization’s mission of educating and inspiring Montanans and decreasing the degree insects and others are feared.
University of Montana: Montana Media Lab: $5500 for the Media Literacy and Digital Story Telling Initiative. The initiative targets middle and high school students in rural areas and reservations, providing media training through workshops and going into the schools, when possible. The program also emphasizes and teaches students how to separate fact from fiction in the news. It provides an opportunity for UM School of Journalism the opportunity to teach skills, while honing their own production skills.
University of Montana School of Radio-TV: $30,000 in continued support for various programs including Legislative News Service, with students reporting on the Montana legislative session; a new Outdoor Adventure Filmmaking; the Documentary student film is now launched as a partnership with the School of Visual and Media Arts, a cornerstone program in a certificate program in documentary film. The grant provides on-going support for programs: Business: Made in Montana, and the Montana PBS news brief. In conjunction with the Native News Honor project, a new component has created a series of radio programs to be distributed to commercial stations, with a later video component, as a joint documentary with the Montana Media Arts lab.


Philipsburg Arts Fund: $12,000 for “Philipsburg 2.0 Be Careful What you Wish For”, a sequel to the international award-winning documentary, “Saving the Burg,” also supported by GMF, which told of the great success in revitalizing the town and its economy after the decline in mining. Shown frequently to great acclaim on MTPBS, it was hoped the local success could be replicated in other communities. This film tells what happened afterward, as changes occurred, newcomers moved in, with some positive and negative effects. It includes the difficulties in dealing with the Covid Pandemic, especially important to an economy built primarily on tourism.


Meagher County Stewardship Council: $5500 to support a documentary about White Sulphur Springs and its efforts to balance economic reality with a desire to maintain its character. A copper mine planned for the pristine waters of the Smith River Canyon promises an unpredictable future for its residents, with strident voices inside and outside the community force deeper thinking about the value of environment versus economy in the new rural west.

General Grants

General grants are available for nonprofits and others: for film, TV programs, documentaries, videos, webinars, etc. with applications due annually on April 1 and awards made in June.

Commercial Grants

A major goal for GMF’s founder, Ed Craney was to improve commercial broadcasting in the state. There is no deadline for grant applications from commercial stations if you can demonstrate that this is an urgent and critical issue & production is time-limited