The MFEC is proud to promote local efforts to expand financial education across Montana. Mini-grants are intended to help support activities in local communities that are rooted in Financial Literacy Awareness. The MFEC places an emphasis on applications which target high-needs populations and that create a best-practice or tool that is replicable. Mini-grants may be used to augment existing activities or to implement a new strategy or program. Click here to read the MFEC Mini-Grant Policy.
2020 mini-grants are now open for exclusively for persons and/or organizations that attended the MFEC’s 2020 Financial Education Conference. The deadline for the submission of these mini-grant applications is April 15, 2020.
Mini-grant recipients are required to submit a Grant Performance Report by December 31st. This report allows the MFEC to track the impact that the program or event had on the local community in which the mini-grant was awarded. This also includes the submission of photos taken at events or programs which have in part been enabled by the mini-grant. These photos may be used by the MFEC on its website or other promotional materials.
Past Mini-Grant Projects
District 4 HRDC
The funding will enable District 4 HRDC to train its Employment and Training Director to gain a certificate in financial social work. This will allow the HRDC to educate clientele on increasing financial literacy, understanding financing, and further the mission of the agency to assist individuals and families in becoming self-sufficient. In turn it will help sustain the offering of financial literacy courses on an on-going basis to HRDC 4 clients and communities served.
Helena Habitat for Humanity
This grant will provide additional resources to help prepare and support families with their financial readiness. Helena Habitat for Humanity hopes to serve five families by offering each five one-hour sessions with a skilled financial counselor and coach. Topics will include budgeting, credit and debt counseling, and any specific and personal financial literacy support.
MSU Extension – Big Horn County
This grant will help support “Get Real-Here’s the Deal!” which is a hands-on experiential simulation that gives young people the opportunity to experience their future in a financial decision-making mode. The simulation is designed for three one-hour sessions. The first two sessions are in a classroom setting, the third session is a simulation where youth are encouraged to make wise financial lifestyle choices like those that adults face each month. The sessions include financial management lessons, a personal finance simulation, and a follow-up/evaluation discussion.
MSU Extension – Glacier County
The goal of this grant is to improve financial literacy through a Total Money Makeover book club. MSU Extension in Glacier County provides relevant, pertinent education to local residents, one of which includes financial literacy. The book club offers weekly sessions to work on financial concepts presented in the book, assist students with preparing ‘zero based’ budgets, and discuss the book’s content.
NACDC Financial Services
NACDCFS administers a youth savings program in Browning schools and compliments this with financial product and financial literacy training. The mini-grant will fund five student bank boards in the schools served by the program and give student board members hands-on financial literacy experience through bank teller training during the monthly board meetings and three field trip opportunities to local and regional banks. Participating students will also set written savings goals and receive incentives based on completion of those goals.
As a part of NeighborWorks Montana’s Native Coalition, their goal is to support partner organizations state-wide in implementing Reality Fairs with a specific focus in rural, tribal communities. Reality Fairs are events that allow high school aged students, typically Juniors and Seniors, to have an interactive financial education experience. This concept allows students to navigate real-life financial situations including making financial choices that affect their budgets and balancing income versus necessary expenses. The mini-grant will enable the purchase of toolkits and other administrative costs with the focus of serving 100 students on the Flathead and Fort Peck Reservations.
UM Financial Education Program
The UM Financial Education Program is utilizing the grant to work with Juniors and Seniors and their families, who are attending Ronan High School. Their goal is to provide the students with the resources, knowledge, and coaching opportunities to fill out financial aid forms and scholarship applications. With roughly 150 Junior and Seniors enrolled, they hope to help half of those students and their families to increase the FAFSA completion rate at Ronan High School and increase the opportunities for these students to strengthen their financial literacy.
Through the generosity of our partners, the MFEC awarded five mini-grants in 2019 totaling nearly $3,500 in support of projects serving a broad range of populations across Montana.
YouthBuild – Helena
YouthBuild Helena is an employ-ability program dedicated to helping young adults achieve their high school equivalency, attain pre-apprenticeship certificates, serve the Helena Community, and build life skills. Financial literacy is a life skill taught at YouthBuild, however YouthBuild currently lacks a specific financial literacy curriculum. The goal is to implement a curriculum that will last several years. The target population is current and future YouthBuild students ages 16-24. Each year YouthBuild recruits 31 students from Jefferson, Broadwater, and Lewis and Clark Counties. Every YouthBuild student must be eligible for the YouthBuild program by having a barrier to employment. The current Case Manager has a Master’s in Business Administration and is well suited to deliver the financial literacy program because of his education and background knowledge in finance. Grant funds will be used to purchase books that will be part of the curriculum.
MSU-Exention – Hill County
Summer reading book club of the book the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey in July/August in Havre. The goal is to equip participants with skills they can use to reduce their debt. The target population will be Hill County residents (will be open to 20 persons). Participants will read the book and complete activities in the workbook. They will meet four times and will discuss skills they are learning. Grant funds to be used for books/workbook, printing costs to promo the program, and incentives for participants to complete the book club.
MSU-Extension – Ravalli Country
StoryWalk is the concept of building early literacy, physical activity and family time. Pages of a book are laminated and mounted on a garden stake, then placed strategically throughout a public place, such as a park of farmers market. Through the assistance of the Bitterroot Public Library, Bitterroot Financial Education Coalition and MSU Extension, we are piloting the concept of StoryWalk using books focused on financial education in May 2019.Families with young children in the towns of Hamilton, Darby and Stevensville will be served with this project. In the month of May, we will be piloting the concept in Hamilton to receive data and feedback regarding the project to help build interest in the other communities. The Bitterroot Public Library will be hosting Toddler Story. Time at the park to promote the program. We plan to serve at least 150 individuals. Grant funds to be used for books, signage supplies and participation incentives.
NACDC Financial Services – Browning
NACDC Financial Services (NACDCFS) is a non-profit Native CDFI that was founded by Elouise Cobell in 2010. As a part of this mission, NACDCFS administers a youth savings program in Browning, MT schools and compliments this with financial literacy training whenever possible. For the last 2 years, an NACDCFS trainer has taught a 4-part financial literacy class in the local high school to all graduating seniors. If funded, this project would combine the 4-part class into a single day that would include lunch, 2 guest speakers, more time to develop a budget and other financial skills. The 1-day class would take place on Saturday December 7th and would be a requirement for all graduating seniors. The target population is graduating seniors at Browning Public High School. The school is located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Approximately 38% of households on the reservation are below the poverty line. All graduating seniors are required to take this class to graduate. The class is timed so that it is not at the same time as major sports or other extra-curricular activities. Approximately 100 students graduate from Browning Public High School annually. The grant funds would be used for speaker honorariums and lunch for the event.
Rural Dynamics, Inc.
Tax Help Montana (THM) is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program made up of a coalition of community partners that provide free individual income tax preparation for low- to-moderate income and elderly individuals and families across Montana. The grant will support the training and implementation of a Financial Fitness project with the potential to reach up to 5,000 homes in Montana. RDI volunteer tax preparers prepare 5,000 state and federal returns annually within at least 15 Montana counties as well as 2 Native American Reservations. RDI has a traveling team that takes tax preparation services to the people allowing us to truly reach the under-served areas of the state and our most vulnerable populations. Training for the VITA/TCE volunteers is provided by the Tax Help MT Program Manager. Due to the scope of RDI’s operations and programs, the Program Manager would be able to partner with the Financial Fitness for Life Coordinator to provide quality, in depth training to the volunteers on how to have these conversations with the taxpayers as well as educating them on what financial resources are available and how to refer them to the appropriate agencies. Grant funds would be used in part to help cover a portion of supplies, technology, equipment, program management salary, and office space.
Through the generosity of our partners, the MFEC awarded five mini-grants in 2018 totaling nearly $4,000 in support of projects serving a broad range of populations across Montana.
Montana Family, Career and Community Leaders of America – Bozeman
The FCCLA incorporated adviser training on Financial Fitness at their annual fall Leadership Rally held at MSU. The grant supported the training and implementation of a Financial Fitness project with the potential to reach up to 225 middle and high school students.
MSU Extension – Lewis and Clark County – Helena
This grant funded two projects: Money Habitudes and Solid Finances, with the potential to reach up to 80 low-income residents. Money Habitudes allowed participants to explore their spending habits and move in the direction of improving their financial behaviors. Solid Finances offered “Cool Your Spending: Financial Education Webinar Series” at libraries over the noon hour during the summer.
MSU Extension – Richland County – Sidney
The grant funded a one-day estate planning workshop that helped residents address financial and family issues surrounding estate planning. The workshop reached about 20 Richland County residents.
Montana Youth Homes – Helena
This grant provided basic budgeting skills and other financial life-skills to eight residents of Montana Youth Homes. The training provided practical financial skills the residents can use to help them live independently when they leave the youth home.
Park City School District 5 – Laurel
Park City School offered a Personal Finance Presentation Day for 26 senior class students. The presentation consisted of eight speakers and focused on personal financial topics for students preparing to leave home. One presentation was held in the evening and open to the public, with the potential to reach up to 50 people.