Greater Montana Foundation awards over $315,000 grants to date, elects new Trustees

October 11th, 2018

The Greater Montana Foundation has awarded over $315,000 in grants so far in 2018, including the sponsorship of primary debates for candidates for the US Senate and the US House of Representatives. GMF also still has funds available for qualified commercial station grants and for education assistance grants to help reporters report on economic issues.

“Our grants support on-going programs and invest in new ventures, while all these grants are intended to carry forward the mission and vision of our founder, Edmund B. Craney,” said Chair Ron Davis.

The Greater Montana Foundation was founded in 1958 by pioneer broadcaster Ed Craney, long before modern electronic communication, to provide financial support for programs encouraging communications, with an emphasis on electronic media, on issues, trends, and values of importance to present and future generations of Montanans, as described in GMF’s mission statement.

Davis noted that GMF’s two professionally–conducted media surveys identified three top issues for Montanans: Jobs and the economy; health care; and education. Projects and programs focused on any of these three issues enjoy a higher priority for funding.

The early emphasis was on commercial broadcasting and GMF continues to offer awards for excellence and continuing professional development for Montana broadcasters. Grants support the annual Montana Broadcasters Association EB Craney awards, for excellence in broadcasting.

While all grant applications are competitive, with a wide variety of recipients, there are on-going grants, including annual support for students in TV and radio at the state’s universities, with documentaries, news reporting and internships. Programs of Montana PBS and Montana Public Radio, are longtime recipients.

Also receiving numerous grants over the years is the Montana Historical Society, with an earlier $600,000 grant intended for the MHS new building, while grants to create a new film and media archives continue, along with technical updates to the Ed Craney Studio, MHS Museum’s auditorium.
An award-winning after-school program, MAPS Media Institute, Hamilton, and its new MAPS Mobile Outreach efforts also continue to receive support. A number of new documentary films, podcasts and radio programs were funded.

At the annual board meeting, GMF also named new officers and elected three new members to the Board of Directors: Edwin Johnson, Philipsburg, former University of Montana Registrar and Associate Dean; Robert McDonald, Polson, Communications Director, Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes; and Sydni Tangaro, Bozeman CPA, Tangaro Lofgren CPAs.

Members retiring from the board, Norma Ashby Smith, Great Falls, and former chairs, Randal Morger, Fort Benton, and William Whitsitt, Bigfork, were offered great appreciation for their service.

New officers include Chair Ron Davis, Butte, president of Butte Broadcasting and General Manager of radio stations KBOW, KOPR and KGLM; Vice Chair Jim Senst, Great Falls, Vice President and General Manager, STAR Radio; and Secretary, Mary Willmarth, Great Falls, independent project contractor and business partner of Vision West, Inc. Fred Flanders, retired bank president, Helena, continues as Treasurer.

“We are always eager to encourage grant applications and identify new programs worthy of GMF support,” Davis emphasized. “Information is available on the GMF website greatermontanafoundation.org.”

Education Grants

The Greater Montana Foundation is now offering new education assistance grants to individual Montana news media professionals and journalism students to strengthen their ability to report more effectively on issues of jobs and the economy. The $500 per person grants are for any course related to these issues, whether on-line or in-person, at any of the state’s post-secondary institutions.

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