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Gianforte Family Foundation Renews Grant for Computer Science Growth at Montana Tech


The Gianforte Family Foundation has renewed its support of computer science education at Montana Tech with an additional $135,855 gift.  The funds will be used to reach more Montana high school students and share with them the benefits of the field of computer science.

“We are very grateful for this support from the Gianforte Family Foundation,” noted Michele Van Dyne, head of the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Montana Tech. “Their help in the past has allowed us to reach out to high school students across the state to promote computer science education. Their additional support will allow us to keep this effort growing in a more targeted way. The Computer Science Department is very fortunate to have the backing of the Gianforte Family Foundation.”

In the spring of 2015, the Gianforte Family Foundation gave over $222,000 to Montana Tech’s computer science department to administer the already-successful CodeMontana program, and to recruit high school students across the state to study computer science in college. This grant will continue that work for another 18 months, supporting Brent Donoven as the Department’s Computer Science Education and Outreach Coordinator. Donoven was hired in the fall of 2016 to attract new freshmen by helping them understand the role of computer science and software engineers. The major strategy will be to connect students through CodeMontana, where students are introduced to coding through engaging in online modules.

“Montana Tech deeply appreciates the continued support of our Computer Science Department and CodeMontana from the Gianforte Family Foundation,” explained Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter. “Greg and Susan’s investment will lead to more Montana students being well-prepared for high paying jobs.”

Montana’s high tech industry is booming, growing at seven times the statewide economy, and the sector plans to add almost 1,000 jobs this year. Universities can meet this growing demand by adding computer science graduates to the workforce, where they can find high-paying jobs that let them stay in Montana to work. The problem is, many high school students don’t know enough about computer science to consider studying it in college.   The Department will provide additional curriculum and extracurricular programs to engage high school students with computer science and software engineering. They will recruit students using tools such as completion of dual enrollment computer science and advanced placement, high school competitions, and high ACT or grade point along with stated interest in computer science/software engineering.   “I am very thankful for the Gianforte Family Foundation’s generous donation,” said Brent Donoven, Montana Tech computer science/software engineering outreach coordinator and adjunct faculty member. “This donation will go a long way in furthering computer science education in Montana, as well as helping the Computer Science Department at Montana Tech.”

“We are thrilled to see continued investment in our Computer Science Department by the Gianforte Family Foundation,” noted Michael Barth, Executive Director of the Montana Tech Foundation. “Their support will allow continued outreach into Montana high schools, exposing more of Montana’s young people to the exciting opportunities possible in the field of computer science. Montana needs more computer scientists and with this gift, we will be able to identify and recruit and graduate more students, putting them on the path to their own extraordinary futures.”

Catherine Koenen, Executive Director of the Gianforte Family Foundation, states, “Computer science and its related fields are becoming more and more relevant in today’s job market. Enrollment in CS programs at Montana's universities has increased over the last couple of years, and we’re excited to continue that momentum with our recent gift to Montana Tech. It’s our hope to provide a workforce for the state’s growing tech industry, while at the same time equipping Montana’s students with the skills they need to succeed in their careers.”

The Gianforte Family Foundation works to support organizations that equip others with the means to improve their lives and create lasting change. Since its creation, the foundation has given over $51 million to projects primarily in Montana, as well as projects in the greater United States and some limited work overseas. You can learn more about the foundation at gianfortefoundation.org.   For more information, please contact please contact Brent Donoven at (406) 496-4383 or bdonoven@mtech.edu.