The MTN Montana Wildfire Relief Fund is starting to evaluate applications as it gets ready to award its first round of grants.
The fund is a partnership between the Montana Television Network and the Montana Community Foundation, designed to help organizations and communities affected by the 2017 wildfire season. It has raised about $525,000 so far. The most recent donation - $20,000 - came from the Foley Family Charitable Foundation, based in Whitefish.
“We’re pretty confident this money is going to make a very important positive impact on Montana and for those who kept us safe during this fire season,” said Riley Meredith, the foundation’s marketing and communications director.
About 60 organizations turned in grant applications ahead of the first deadline last week.
A grant committee has been established that includes representatives from MTN and the Community Foundation, fire professionals, and people from the communities affected by fires. The members will score each application, and that score will determine which organizations receive the first awards. For the first cycle of grants, the committee will give preference to rural volunteer fire departments and other first responders that fought this summer’s wildfires.
Meredith says the fund will likely award between $250,000 and $300,000 in the first round of grants, and that the awards could be decided as soon as next month. Applications also opened this weekend for the second round of grants, which will focus on groups that provided relief for people affected by the fires.
“There’s a lot of direct relief organizations out there who helped out, providing food and shelter and things like that,” Meredith said. “Then there are some organizations out there who are helping people rebuild houses and pay for things like that. That’s what this second round is really dedicated for.”
Organizations have until December 11 to apply for the second grant cycle.