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Montana's MAPS (Media Arts in the Public Schools) Media Institute Receives Top National Honor

November 9, 2017View for printing

Cited as one of the best creative youth development programs in the country

Representatives from the MAPS Media Institute --a rural, tuition free, media arts program based in Hamilton, MT--were in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to receive the nation's highest honor for creative youth development programs. Executive Director, Clare Ann Harff, and MAPS student, Myles Smith, accepted the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award on behalf of the MAPS organization.

MAPS Executive Director, Clare Ann Harff says: "We are incredibly honored to receive this award as it recognizes the dedicated work of the entire MAPS community: founders Peter & Susan Rosten, students and families - past and present, funders, clients and our community supporters. It reinforces MAPS core belief that investing in our youth is investing in our future. By creatively engaging students through relevant media arts, MAPS better prepares them for success in school, their careers and in their community."


Governor Steve Bullock Congratulates MAPS Media Institute



Chosen from a pool of 285 nominations, MAPS is one of only 12 creative youth development programs nationwide to be recognized at Thursday's ceremony.

The NAHYP Award honors engagement in the arts and the humanities to generate a wide range of positive outcomes for teens, including increased academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment, as well as improved literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness. Since 1998, these awards are presented through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Federal Arts and Culture Agencies Honor < the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in cooperation with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).

In 2014, and again in 2016, the MAPS Media Institute was among the top 50 finalists for this award. This year, MAPS was honored as a winner. In addition to this national recognition, MAPS will receive $10,000 to support its programming and to engage more young people from the community.

Founded in 2004, by retired Hollywood producer, Peter Rosten, MAPS programming encourages Montana students to develop creativity, communication skills and confidence through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) based media arts and service learning programs. MAPS' goal is to inspire and prepare Montana's rural, under-served, 8th - 12th grade students to succeed in the 21st Century. MAPS helps young people view their lives through a lens of possibility -- engaging with their communities as supportive citizens, while gaining real world experience through media arts.

MAPS free-of-charge program bridges filmmaking, graphic design, music production, computer science, entrepreneurship and community service. Students are mentored by professional teaching artists. Through project based instruction and access to industry standard equipment, students are introduced to the creative process and taught how to apply their skills for future success. MAPS creates life-long learners ready to engage with the modern world. The atmosphere at the MAPS Media Institute is electric and the results are remarkable.

As described by Cinda Holt, of the Montana Arts Council, "... the MAPS Media Institute has become not only an exemplary organization, but what we consider a Gold Standard of arts driven youth education in our state. Using relevant media tools, MAPS turns underserved students into capable media artists and communicators and is truly a life-changing program for its participants."

Currently, MAPS serves youth in Ravalli County and on three Montana Indian Reservations. MAPS recently received funding to develop a statewide educational outreach program, the MAPS Media Lab, a mobile unit outfitted with equipment, MAPS instructors and established curriculums.

MAPS founder Peter Rosten passed away last April, leaving an amazing legacy of curiosity and learning, humor and hope. Rosten retired to the Bitterroot Valley after a successful Hollywood career, and, according to his wife, Susan Rosten, "He was enamored at the honesty and sincerity of the people here, especially teenagers. MAPS is his proudest business accomplishment."

Along with many other honors, Peter Rosten was a 2016 Silver Circle inductee of the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. His vision and work for the rural youth of Montana was the subject of a 2015 New York Times article. It clearly anticipates how MAPS' prestigious 2017 NAHYP Award is a fitting testimony to his unique vision, dogged dedication, and infectious delight in the creative human spirit.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock shares that: "MAPS better prepares our Montana students for the jobs of the future while they explore their passion in the media arts. While this award is for everyone, without Peter Rosten, there would be no MAPS. Peter was always willing to share his talents and make the world around him a better place."

And Senator Jon Tester commented: "It was my pleasure to visit the MAPS program last year and I was impressed with both the high quality of their work and the enthusiasm of the students. Investing in the arts makes our communities stronger and more vibrant and it opens the doors to new ideas and innovation."

In closing, MAPS student Myles Smith adds: "MAPS is a place where I get to be creative and work on ideas with other students, students from all over the valley. We learn about making art, but we also learn how to communicate and gain confidence by bringing our ideas to life. All high school kids should have a place like MAPS."

Clare Ann Harff


For more information about the MAPS Media Institute, please visit

For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit


MAPS receives prestigious national award

Leaders of the Hamilton-based MAPS Media Institute are in Washington, D. C., today to be honored by federal arts and culture agencies as one of the best after-school and youth development programs in the nation.

The awards for MAPS effectiveness in engaging youth in the arts or humanities come from National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

MICHELLE MCCONNAHA ... me-featured
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