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Private Funds to Boost College Readiness for Montana's Native Students

The state of Montana will receive a $1 million grant to improve access to postsecondary education for native students from USA Funds, a national college-and career-readiness organization.

According to a story by the Great Falls Tribune, part of the funding will go to Jobs for Montana Graduates, which helps students transition to postsecondary education or careers. The funding will help the program expand and work in tribal communities. The Montana University system will also receive some funding to work with the state's tribal colleges and offer scholarships to veterans.  

Nearly 12 percent of students in Montana are American Indian, compared to less than 1 percent nationwide. In 2014, only 65 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students graduated in four years, compared to the state average of 85 percent. Montana has already been looking for ways to boost Native achievement, most recently by seeking out more Native teachers.

Some states and districts have attempted to use public or private money to specifically improve outcomes for Native students. In Minnesota, a $17 billion education funding bill negotiated in June will provide $18 million to American Indian students and tribal schools. A district in Michigan that serves mostly American Indian students has utilized federal funds to hire teachers' aides and interventionists, which has resulted in the district's Native students outperforming the rest of the state's American Indian students. 

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