2017 Semifinalist
State of Montana
January 1, 2017

When the state superintendent launched Graduation Matters Montana (GMM) in 2010, high school graduation rates were flat and thousands of students were dropping out. Fast forward to 2016: over 50 communities have a local GMM school-community team, the state just announced record-breaking graduation rates, and the American Indian student dropout rate has dropped nearly 30 percent. Adopting the GMM tagline “Locally designed, locally implemented based on what works in Montana,” the superintendent built a model that engages students, schools, community organizations and main street businesses in the effort. Communities adopt common language (e.g, “Graduation Matters Billings,” “Graduation Matters Wolf Point”) and a four-step framework (Team, Data, Effective Practices, and Communication) to support the development of initiatives that reflect local needs and capacities. Montana’s private sector has provided $1.3 million to GMM, 90 percent of which is re-granted to local communities to implement the GMM framework.