Over $274,000 in communications and media education grants awarded by GMF

November 7th, 2017

Funds still available for commercial grants.

The Greater Montana Foundation has awarded over $274,000 in grants and reserved another $40,000 for potential commercial grants in 2017.  GMF continued an initiative to encourage and improve the ability of news reporters to better address the top issue identified in two GMF Media surveys:  jobs and the economy.

“Our grant awards,” said William Whitsitt, Board Chair, “are intended to support excellence in carrying out the mission envisioned by our founder. Using the identified top issues provides a stronger focus for our granting. It is our goal to help members of the media improve their reporting of the top issue, jobs and the economy, through educational assistance.  This will result in a better informed public.”

In 1958, long before public radio and TV or the internet were available, Ed Craney, pioneer broadcaster, entrepreneur and philanthropist, established the Greater Montana Foundation, 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. Other top issues identified in the surveys were health care and education.

GMF offers awards for excellence and continuing professional development for Montana broadcasters, with support for the Montana Broadcasters Association EB awards, reflecting Mr. Craney’s emphasis on commercial broadcasting.  In addition, there is no deadline for grant applications from commercial stations if the request addresses an urgent and critical issue and production is time-limited.

The Greater Montana Foundation awards grants to a variety of recipients, with annual support for students in TV and radio at the state’s universities, including internships. Programs of Montana PBS and Montana Public Radio are also longtime recipients. An award-winning after school media training program, MAPS Media was funded again, along with a new grant for a MAPS mobile lab to take the program to rural areas and Indian reservations.   The Montana Historical Society was awarded $25,000 for its new building, in addition to an earlier $600,000 grant for this purpose.  Also funded were a variety of documentaries and interview programs.


(GMF awards over $276,000 in grants. Statewide organizations are listed in the towns of their headquarters)


Billings Library Foundation:  $5000 in a second grant for TV vignettes, as part of a new program to build literacy. The initial focus is on encouraging parents to engage with their preschoolers in activities at the library.  Included is an opportunity for other libraries to insert their own information at the conclusion of each spot.


Friends of MTPBS:  $55,000 for the Montana Friends of PBS Program Fund, including continuing support for numerous programs, including The Rundown with Beth Saboe, a series providing in-depth coverage of issues that matter to Montanans,  Backroads of Montana, and 11th and Grant.  The grant will also support two new documentaries; one on Montana barns and another on Montana pioneer John Bozeman.

Montana State University School of Film and Photography:  $2,000 for the annual Hugh Galusha-Ed Craney award for two outstanding senior film projects.


Kings Road Media:  $5000 for Buffalo Resurrection, a one hour film documenting the Blackfeet Nation’s efforts to establish a thriving buffalo herd on their reservation.

Its primary purpose is to inspire and educate native and non-native America about the power and importance of the buffalo to the American experience - how the animal can positively impact many areas of life in Montana and the United States.


Rosten Foundation for the Media Arts (MAPS):  $20,000 continued support for the award-winning MAPS Media free after-school program which, in addition to serving four county schools, also provides a summer session and is working with the Salish-Kootenai college on the reservation and has expanded to the Blackfeet Reservation.  The public/private partnership integrates science, technology, engineering, the arts and math concepts within multiple hands-on media courses disciplines, including a new entrepreneurial program.

The Irwin and Florence Rosten Foundation for the MAPS Media Institute:  $60,000 for a new MAPS Media Mobile Lab program.   In response to needs in other rural and tribal communities, MAPS now has a vehicle already donated for a mobile lab and is working with school districts, community partners and donors to get the program up and running.  MAPS plans for three to five outreach programs of one or more weeks a year to various communities.


Artemis Common Ground:  $10,000 in program support for this nonprofit which strives to offer a vision of the rural west that a healthy economy and conserving our environment are interdependent, and that by working together we can achieve both.

Montana Broadcasters Association:   $29,380 for the 55th annual EB awards for broadcast excellence.  Named in honor of broadcast pioneer E.B. Craney, founder of the Greater Montana Foundation, the “EBs” recognize excellence in a variety of categories through a competitive process, encouraging and rewarding the best of Montana broadcasting.

Montana Historical Society:    $25,000 for MHS new building.  GMF has already completed a $600,000 pledge for this purpose, made over a period of years.  This additional grant, made during the 65th legislative session, was intended to encourage additional private support, as well as an appropriation by the Montana Legislature.

Montana Wilderness Association:   $5000 for Trail a Week: Supporting Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Industry and Rural Economies.  Intended to support Montana’s outdoor recreation industry and rural economies, this program will feature a 60 second weekly trail feature in partnership with local TV stations. It will also be made available on MWA’s website’s on-line trail guide, highlighting lesser known trails, as well as nearby rural businesses.


Missoula Community Radio: $5000 for radio interviews featuring speakers and attendees at the 2017 Native American Economic Development Summit.  Both local and national speakers highlight economic development in Indian Country, as well as providing information about a variety of resources. The series of 12 one hour shows will be played on local and tribal radio stations and at tribal colleges.

Montana Public Radio:  $20,000 in continued support for programs such as Economic Reporting & Podcast; Kids Like you and Me, stories played during The Pea Green Boat, about how it feels to be excluded or left out because of differences; The Write Question, a weekly literary program that features authors from the western United States; Finding Montana, a new podcast that will look at what Montana has been what it is now and where it is going in the future.

University of Montana School of Radio-TV: $21,500 in continued support for various programs including the student documentary, the summer internship program, Business: Made in Montana and the Montana PBS news brief.


Phillipsburg Arts Fund:  $12,500 for Saving the Burg, a 30 minute documentary which will highlight how the people of Phillipsburg revitalized their economy through their own innovative community efforts, resulting in successful businesses and a strong economy.   The town has won an award from Sunset Magazine for reinventing itself after economic decline.  It is hoped other communities can use this as a model.


Educational Assistance Grants:  $8000 to continue a pilot program of up to 16 grants. A media survey commissioned by GMF in 2015 indicated that jobs and the economy were the highest issue priority for Montanans. The program is designed to help news reporters improve reporting on this issue by providing educational incentives, helping to defer costs of college or university level courses in economics, business and related subjects.

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