Home »

GMM Newsletter RSS Feed

Take the Pledge to Graduation

Montana College and Career Readiness

Welcome to the Graduation Matters Montana College and Career Readiness Resource page! Superintendent Juneau launched the Graduation Matters Montana initiative in the spring of 2010 with the goal of increasing the number of Montana students who graduate from high school ready for college and career. The resources below will help you access the wide range of opportunities and programs that can help you achieve your college and career goals.

steps On Yuur Way college readiness career pathways get a jumpstart in high school establish friend, family and community support


On your way!

  • As you consider your college and career dreams, there are some steps that will help you succeed. It is important to develop social and academic support systems. Check in with your academic advisor about resources that will help you meet the expectations of your college or career program. Studies have shown that students who participate in social activities are more successful in their academic goals. Take time to meet other students in a club or at other activities.

College readiness

  • College Application Week
    •  During this week, many two and four year colleges across Montana defer or waive their application fees to encourage students to apply to their programs. Schools and community organizations throughout the state can help high school seniors complete a college application. College Application Week takes place in early November and you can find more information about it below.
  • ACT
    • The ACT is a national college admissions test.  Every public high school junior in Montana can take the ACT at no cost to them or their families. This opportunity is offered once a year in April and students take the ACT at school during the school day. The links below will help you understand what the ACT is and how to prepare for it. Free study assistance is also offered through some of the resources below. http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/

Scholarship opportunities

  • Don’t count yourself out! Scholarships are awarded to a wide range of students from a variety of organizations. Your grades, activities, and life experiences can make you a successful applicant. If you do not apply, you are 100% guaranteed not to receive financial assistance!
  • Applying for scholarships is an important part of the college and career process because scholarships can help with the cost of books, tuition, housing, and other related expenses. Check with your high school counselor or even the regional Student Assistance Foundation Outreach Representative.  Below are a list of organizations and scholarship opportunities that will help your college and career dreams become more affordable.

(Free Application for Federal Student Aid) FAFSA

Every student should complete the FAFSA. This form can help your college and career dreams become a reality. The FAFSA allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine what type of
  • federal aid a student is eligible for. Below are a list of resources to help you understand what the FAFSA means and how to complete it.

Career pathways

  • Career and technical education
    • Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares students for a wide range of career and college opportunities. CTE classes are a great way to obtain career readiness skills that will make you more employable. The variety of classes offered depends on the course offering at your school. In CTE courses, students gain the education and career skills they need for today’s workforce.
  • Apprenticeship
    • Apprenticeship is the oldest known form of skills training. It’s all about a seasoned, skilled worker teaching the skills of their craft to workers new to the trade or craft. Registered apprenticeship training includes both supervised on-the-job training through real work experience and related technical instruction in the classroom. The Montana Apprenticeship Program hopes to raise your awareness of apprenticeship and all the doors it can open for your future. Whether you are interested in becoming a meat cutter or a child care development specialist, an electrician or a heavy equipment operator, there is a career path for nearly everyone with hundreds of apprentice-able occupations

Get a jumpstart in high school

Preparing for your future doesn’t begin in college or a career training program anymore. Begin planning in high school! There are several resources and opportunities that Montana students can take advantage to get a jumpstart on your college and career goals.
Advanced Placement classes

  • AP classes are high school courses that are roughly equivalent to undergraduate college courses. The courses are taught by a College Board certified teacher. Students scoring a 3 or better on the AP exam can receive college credit for the course. All of the two and four year MUS colleges accept AP scores of 3 or above for college credit, depending on the course and academic program.  Ask your high school counselor if your school offers AP classes.
  • Dual credit classes
    • Dual credit classes are college classes taught at the high school, online, or college campus in which a student receives high school credit and college credit.  The students are enrolled in a college level course and complete all college level assignments and tests.  At the end of the course, the student receives a grade on a college transcript and the high school transcript. To find out if you have dual enrollment opportunities at your high school, contact your school counselor.
  • HiSET (formally the GED)
    • The HiSET is a national high school equivalency test available to adults (16 years and older) no longer enrolled in high school. Upon successful completion of the HiSET, adults earn the Montana High School Equivalency Diploma. The Montana High School Equivalency Diploma opens doors to college, employment training programs, and career advancement. The test can be taken at one of twenty-four Montana HiSET test centers.
    •  HERE is the link to HiSET information.  Click now for the opportunity to start on a journey to career or college success. http://hiset.ets.org/

Establish friend, family and community support

School staff, family members and friends often forget how stressful the transition out of high school can be. They focus on all the tasks and the deadlines you have to meet. Remind the people in your life that you are going through a big change. Don’t be afraid to talk about the concerns you have about going to your career or college program. It is good to ask a teacher, parent, guardian, friend or school counselor to take the time to talk with you. 

Attendance Matters

Attendance Matters

Download your own Attendance Matters Banner. 851 x 315px | 3110 x 1296px

Attendance Matters Toolkit

Attendance Works Toolkit

Key Messages

2016 Attendance Matters

Attendance Matters
Template Letter

Superintendent: to Principals

Principal: to Parents

Attendance Matterts!


"Attendance Matters. Graduation Matters." -- Denise Juneau's back to school PSA





Radio PSAs

Graduation Matters Montana Summer Summit

The GMM Summer Summit - Tuesday, June 21 2016

Thank you to the more than 250 school staff, students, community and businesses leaders from 45 Montana communities who joined us at our biggest GMM Summer Summit yet! See below links for presentation materials.

A special thank you to our business partners: DA Davidson, First Interstate Bank, Reach Higher Montana (formerly the Student Assistance Foundation) and the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation for their support of the 2016 GMM Summer Summit.

GMM Cradle to Career Continuum
Keynote Presentation: What Makes Sustaining Change Possible?
Transformational Change is Possible by Liz Weaver
Graduation Coaches: Stories From the Field

Attendance Matters website

If you have questions please contact Jordann Lankford at (406) 444-3526 or jlankford@mt.gov

The GMM Summer Summit was held Thursday, June 18, 2015

The GMM Summer Summit 2015 was the best summit to date! We had almost 200 school, community and business leaders from over 35 communities join us. Graduation Matters Montana continues to grow and strive to meet the needs of all schools and students. Below is the agenda and materials that were used throughout the day. Please contact us at graduationmatters@mt.gov if you have questions.


The GMM Summer Summit 2014 was held Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The 2014 Graduation Matters Montana Summer Summit was a huge success! We had over 150 school, community and business leaders from over 30 communities join us. Below is the agenda and materials that were used throughout the day. Please contact Jennifer Bezanson at jbezanson@mt.gov if you have any questions.

Helpful Links

Grant Opportunities


Graduation Matters Montana – Challenge Fund 2016

The Montana Office of Public Instruction, in partnership with the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and AT&T, announces the availability of funds through the Graduation Matters Montana (GMM) Challenge Fund. Grants of up to $10,000 are available for existing GMM initiatives and for new GMM initiatives through a competitive application process. Before you complete this application, please watch this brief webinar. Applications are due on March 4, 2016. Award determinations will be announced March 28, 2016.

For further assistance, contact Jordann Lankford, OPI at 444-3526 or graduationmatters@mt.gov.


2015 GMM SAF College Readiness Fund


2015-2016 GMM/ SAF College Readiness Fund Awardees

The Montana Office of Public Instruction received a grant from the Student Assistance Foundation to fund local Graduation Matters Montana (GMM) initiatives to engage in local college readiness and FAFSA completion activities through May, 2016. Grants of $2,500-$5,000 are available to Montana public schools that are existing GMM initiatives and for new GMM initiatives through a competitive application process. A bonus of up to $500 will be awarded to initiatives that achieve a minimum 35% FAFSA completion rate by March 1, 2016; and achieve at least a 15% increase in FAFSA completions by March 1, 2016.

This is the fourth year for the GMM-SAF College Readiness Fund, and we have structured the funding based on effective practices from previous rounds of grantees. This year, we will be looking for proposals that include the following components:

Student and family contact strategies: Successful proposals will describe how local GMM teams will identify and contact every high school senior and their family member for FAFSA completion efforts. We have provided a sample worksheet to help organize contacts throughout the school year.

Recruiting and training volunteer FAFSA coaches: Successful proposals will describe how local GMM teams will engage teaching staff, school staff and/or community members to become “FAFSA coaches” to help contact students and to help students and families complete the FAFSA application.Coordinating FAFSA events with relevant local community events and partners: Successful proposals will describe how the initiative will participate in activities such as College Application Week and College Goal Montana, and will describe how the activities will be coordinated to create a continuum of support for students’ college-going efforts. It will also describe how local community partners will be involved in these activities and leveraged for their support.

Before you complete this application, please watch the brief webinar. For further assistance, please contact Jordann Lankford, OPI at 444-3526 or jlankford@mt.gov.

The application deadline is midnight Oct. 8, 2015.