Former RightNow Technologies CEO Greg Gianforte and his family are donating over $4 million in scholarships to help low and moderate income families afford private schools.
After his company was recently acquired by Oracle, Gianforte has focused his attention on private education and helping send students to private schools that their families otherwise might not have been able to afford.
"Unfortunately, Montana is not a state that has school choice legislation. So people that have means have school choice, they can afford to pay to go to private school and the whole purpose of this program is to kind of give back and help people of low and moderate income be able to have some of the same blessing that we had," Gianforte said.
Thirty-five private schools across the state will benefit from the $4.6 million pledge. The ACE Scholarship program will handle the money and the schools themselves will award them to students.
Schools like Petra Academy in Bozeman say they are thrilled at the opportunity to bring in students who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to get a private school education.
"Our hope and goal is that the word gets out to families that think that private education is beyond their means that they realize no its not, there are those here who can help and so that will be seeing families that before though that private education wasn't an option for them," said Petra Academy Headmaster Todd Hicks.
Gianforte says the ACE program showed major success in Colorado, and that's what encouraged him to bring it to Montana.
"They successfully took high school graduation rates from 59% to 81% and 100% of their scholarship recipients went onto college last year," he said.
Scholarships will be for up to $2,000 per year in kindergarten through 8th grade and $3,000 a year for high school. To qualify, a family must earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $41,348 for a family of four.
Those in the program say the goal is award 500 scholarships by the fall. If you would like to learn more about the scholarship program or apply for a scholarship click here.