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Gallatin and Park nonprofits benefit from $6.5 million grant distribution

Numerous local organizations received grants from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation as part of a $6.5 million distribution to those benefiting social good in Montana.

The foundation, started by the co-founder of The Home Depot, provided almost $1 million to Montana State University and $875,000 to organizations benefiting Gallatin and Park counties, including $150,000 to fund a Park County Housing Coalition Manager for the Human Resources Development Council.

“It was one of the most critical pieces of funding to move the work of the Park County Housing Coalition forward,” said Heather Grenier, the chief executive director of HRDC, of the program — which seeks to provide more local housing opportunities.

And (it) wouldn’t happen without that investment from the Blank Foundation… We think (the coalition) will have a real actual impact on the number of housing units throughout Park County that are affordable,” she added.

HRDC and 28 other organizations received grants from the foundation’s AMB West Community Fund, including Rural Resilience, a group that provides mental health support to Park County rural schools, Bridger Ski Foundation, the Big Sky Youth Empowerment Project and Thrive.

MSU received $20,000 from AMB West for its Healing through Education and Art for Resiliency Teaching (HEART) project in the Fort Peck Reservation.

Additionally, MSU received $919,000 to help launch MSU’s one-year pilot program for a Hospitality Management Certificate.

“We are pleased to expand our giving in Montana to include these new areas of focus,” Fay Twersky, president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, stated in a press release. “We will continue to invest locally in Park and Gallatin Counties while also looking for opportunities to have statewide or regional impact across the Intermountain West. We look forward to working with nonprofit partners and other funders to make a positive difference in the lives of Montana residents.”

Over the years, the foundation has donated over $1 billion.

It was started by its namesake and billionaire, Arthur M. Blank, the co-founder of The Home Depot and current owner of the Atlanta Falcons, in 1995 and began providing grants to nonprofits in Montana in 2001.

Blank owns of a significant amount of land in Paradise Valley such as the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, West Creek Ranch and the Paradise Valley Ranch.

This past April, Blank placed the 8,800-acre Paradise Valley Ranch into a conservation easement through the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

“It was very important to us when we purchased Paradise Valley Ranch that the land was conserved and managed in a thoughtful, responsible way and could serve as a resource for the community,” Blank said in a press release at the time.

Other local grants included $23,000 for the Livingston Food Pantry, $15,000 for the Verge’s Teen Theatre and $10,000 for the Montana Wilderness School.

The Montana Legal Services Association, which assists households facing evictions across the state, received $10,000 to aid local families. Recently, it was reported that since the end of the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program, local organizations in Gallatin Valley have seen an uptick in demand for assistance regarding eviction prevention.

“Support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation helps MLSA provide civil legal services to families with children in Park and Gallatin Counties,” Michelle Potts, MLSA’s development director, said via email. “Civil legal aid creates long-term solutions for Park and Gallatin County’s most vulnerable kids, helping their parents reduce toxic stress and their families overcome legal barriers to achieving economic and familial stability.”

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