Commerce and AccelerateMT Certify 13 Native Citizens as Production Assistants through Training Program

PA Grant Program Image HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Department of Commerce, in partnership with AccelerateMT, recently granted and enrolled seven more Montana tribal members into the Production Assistant (PA) media training and certification program. The grant funding is through Commerce’s Office of Indian Country Economic Development (OICED) Tribal Tourism program.

“Commerce proudly supports programs that help create real-world job opportunities for tribal citizens in our state,” said Liane Taylor, administrator of the Business MT Division at the Montana Department of Commerce. “Since our partnership with AccelerateMT started in August, 13 tribal citizens have completed the course and are now certified PAs ready to work behind the scenes in film, commercials, live theater and concert productions. Additionally, knowledge gained through the training can be transferable and marketable skills for all who complete the course.”

Participants who complete the certification can opt-in to ready-to-work databases managed by AccelerateMT and the Montana Film Office, who respond to production companies seeking local PAs for projects. PAs can also travel out of state with their certifications, expanding their employment opportunities.

“This summer, I attended the production assistant two-day program in Polson; now I’m a certified PA,” said Leslie Belcourt, an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree tribe and a recent scholarship recipient. “Attending the PA program was a hands-on and eye-opening experience for me. I felt like I was in the movie business. A dream come true having grown up in Rocky Boy on a small cattle ranch, where opportunity was not always there if you had big dreams. This is a great opportunity to get started in the television or movie industry.”

The scholarships are exclusively for Montana’s enrolled tribal citizens aged 16 or older. Most scholarship recipients prefer the in-person training method; awardees who take the training course on-line have sixty days to complete it before it expires, with support from AccelerateMT to ensure their successful completion of the certification test.

The application period for the third round of scholarships begins December 15, 2023 and remains open until February 15, 2024. Up to five awards per tribe will be granted for a total of forty awards this round; some awards will be reserved for round four. Scholarship applicants will receive information about upcoming in-person 2024 training dates and locations.

There are 61 awards remaining; eight available to Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne and Chippewa Cree tribes of Rocky Boy’s; nine for the Little Shell tribe of Chippewa Indians; ten for Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes of Fort Belknap; seven for the Crow tribe; six for the Confederated Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’ Oreille tribes; and five for the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck.

Awardees will be notified on February 16, 2024. If the number of applicants from a tribe exceeds five, a random drawing will take place to select the five awardees for round three. Applicants not chosen in round three are automatically entered into the next award cycle. This process repeats until all scholarship awards have been granted and utilized. For more information, email Rachelle Brown, Tribal Tourism Officer at Commerce, or call 406.841.2734.

To establish a free Submittable account to use for the application process, click here.

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