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Middle schools with a majority of students living at or near the poverty line could apply for financial support to add computer science courses.

Project Lead the Way and Verizon announced this week that they are offering $20,000 grants to help some schools fund “high-quality, hands-on computer science curriculum and teacher training,” according to a news release.

The project is a nonprofit that develops science, technology, engineering and math curriculum for schools and provides training for teachers. In recent years, several Montana schools have adopted courses created by the group to prepare high school students for health science careers.

“It’s all part of an $8 million commitment from Verizon to ensure students are developing the knowledge, skills, and career awareness for today’s technology-based economy,” Verizon said in a news release.

To qualify, schools must show that more than 70 percent of their students qualify for federally subsidized free or reduced-price lunch.

There are 419 K-12, elementary or high school school districts in Montana, but the Office of Public Instruction only provides data about free or reduced lunches for 295 of them. According to 2017 figures, 37 districts report that at least 70 percent of their students qualify, including Arlee, Alberton, Cardwell, Hardin and Victor. Some schools in larger communities also might qualify because they have a higher share of qualifying students than the district average.

Applications are due Dec. 15. The grants are open to public, private, charter and faith-based schools.

More information about this particular program and other grant opportunities can be found here: https://www.pltw.org/experience-pltw/funding-and-grant-opportunities

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