2023 Jacket Giving Day Project Descriptions

Reminder:  Any and all funds raised more than the required amount to complete the listed projects below will be used to enhance the Yellowjacket student experience.

To give to a project below click on the "Give Now"  button above and then select the specific areas you'd like to support from the "Designations"  drop-down menu.


Chancellor's Excellence Award:  Since 2002, the Chancellor’s Excellence Awards have been awarded annually to incoming Montana State University Billings first-year students who exemplify the institution’s core values of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership, and service to others — skills necessary to impact an evolving global community. Students are selected based on their academic merit, leadership, and community service. In 2021, 48 students applied. Of them, a dozen finalists were invited to participate in video interviews. Only three students were granted a place among the Chancellor’s Scholars.

Yellowjacket Access Scholarship:  The Yellowjacket Access Scholarship is a retention initiative that strategically targets students whose persistence is most impacted by financial need. We want to raise $200,000 — that’s 200 students who will be $1,000 closer to crossing the finish line, diploma in hand.

The award will be $1,000 ($500 per semester) to students who meet the following criteria:

Finish Line Scholarship:  Too many students drop out for lack of financial support, leaving our institution with student debt and without a degree. The Finish Line Scholarship honors their determination while removing that last financial hurdle between an MSU Billings student and their commencement ceremony. The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships manages this scholarship because they are the ones who often encounter the most needful students and puts the Finish Line Scholarship in the hands of administrators who can apply the award where it’s needed when it’s needed.

The award will be to students who meet the following criteria:

MSUB Student Crisis Fund:  Started on August 23, 2021, the MSUB Student Crisis fund is designed to help our most vulnerable students overcome financial challenges by providing the emergency funds they need to get them back on their feet.  That is where the MSUB Student Crisis Fund comes into play. We have story after story of how circumstances beyond a student’s control, put them in a situation where they just needed a little help to get back on track to continue on their academic journey. Awards typically are a few hundred dollars, but the impact is worth far more. Often, it is difference between continuing their education or having to withdraw from school. With a little help, we can make a world of difference for our students.

General Athletic Scholarships:  Yellowjacket Athletics serves over 230+ student-athletes from around Montana, the United States, and even the world. A donation to support General Athletic Scholarships helps to provide the needed financial stability for the department in the ever-changing world of college athletics. This fund is designed to allow our Athletic Director to help supplement those programs where scholarship support is most needed and ensure a championship experience for all Yellowjacket athletes on the field of play and in the classroom.


Yellowstone Building Outdoor Learning Space: Dr. Norm Schoenthal was a professor at MSU Billings and was instrumental in creating the Yellowstone River Parks Association which owns and maintains over 1,000 acres of land along the Yellowstone River. To pay tribute to Dr. Norm Schoenthal for his dedication to MSU Billings and community, as well as provide ample learning space for College of Health Professions & Science students, MSUB would like to establish the MSUB Outdoor Learning Space in Memory of Norm Schoenthal outside of the newly rennovated Yellowstone Science and Health Building. The landscaping will include a memorial that will commemorate Schoenthal’s impactful contributions made to the sciences at MSUB and alumni. The landscape will speak to native Montana plants and the land that Schoenthal loved. We envision the space will include specific planting and a sitting area, such as a bench or two. Any additional funds raised will be used to support our Botany program in his memory.

MSUB Honors Research Experiences:  The Honors Program at MSU Billings expands student learning opportunities with immersive experiential learning and service leadership. Jacket Giving Day funds support programming outside of the classroom where students build directly transferable skills for careers and graduate programs. The Honors Program sponsors attendance to national conferences, provides leadership opportunities, research and field experiences, and facilitates networking with local community leaders through events and speakers. Through this work, we open doors to opportunities during college and after graduation, helping seed the future leaders of our Billings community.

Artist Residency Program: An Artist in Residency Program brings artists, art professionals, and scholars to campus to make art, present talks, conduct workshops and hands-on demonstrations.  We want to continue to see our programming grow on the campus of MSUB. We request funding to build connections with local, national, international artists to exhibit their work and stay here in Billings. We want to nurture these relationships with artists who will work alongside our students as they learn to recognize their own potential while sharing in the professional practices of another.  

Institute for Neurodiversity playground: The Institute for Neurodiversity is appealing for funds to create a playground at the MSU Billings Institute for Neurodiversity. Our playground space will include sensory playground equipment and activities to provide children with the opportunity to practice important play skills such as cooperation, motor skills, and imaginative play. Our goal is to create a safe and inviting environment for our children at the Institute in addition to children in the community.  Play is critical for children to develop the emotional, social, and creative thinking they’ll need as adults. Playgrounds offer unique challenges and opportunities to foster a child’s self-esteem, social skills, and critical thinking skills. Additionally, access to outdoor play spaces can provide numerous physical benefits to children including strengthening immune systems, lowering anxiety, and helping with sleep.

Roberta Stewart Scholarship Endowment: Roberta Stewart, an advisor, friend, and the face or voice of the COB for students, passed away Sept. 15, 2021, after a courageous battle with cancer. The Roberta Stewart Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established in 2021 by her friends, family, and colleagues to honor her memory and carry on her work of getting students across the finish line, diploma in hand. This scholarship will provide encouragement and financial support to degree-seeking students who are pursuing a Bachelors degree in Marketing, Management, or General Business from the College of Business with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

International Student Emergency Fund: International students have always faced tremendous challenges while studying at MSUB far from their homes, but in the recent period, world events--outside of the students’ control--have caused undue hardship to many MSUB students. The worldwide pandemic has affected all students, but the recent wars, conflicts and civil unrest in Europe, and the Middle East and elsewhere have had a direct affect on our international students’ well-being.  Climate catastrophe has wreaked havoc on our students’ families’ homes, farms, and businesses. Global economic challenges have affected the value of their home currency and their financial support from back home. MSUB and International Studies have a long history of supporting students in extreme circumstances and ensuring they are taken care of and continue to have academic success. Due to recent world events, our students’ need for emergency support has increased immensely. Money raised for this campaign will go toward supporting high-need international students with purchasing food, accommodation fees during university breaks, winter clothing, and other emergency needs as they arise.

Textbooks for Students Fund:  The TRIO SSS program (on both the University and City College campuses) assists income eligible students. They provide a free textbook "rental" program for students. Funds donated toward the Textbook Program would allow students access to textbooks for their classes who oftentimes cannot afford the cost – helping with retention and graduation initiatives. Without textbooks, students cannot be successful in classes where they are required.

MSU Billings 53rd Annual Powwow: The MSU Billings Powwow provides an authentic Native American cultural event for the region, our city, and the campus community as well as an opportunity for Native American youth to perform their tribal dances that are critical to maintaining an active connection to their culture. MSUB provides the only free intertribal powwow available in the 50-mile radius around the city of Billings. The MSUB powwow hosts 2,800 people for two days encompassing 23 event hours and provides a rare opportunity for Native children and their families in the Billings region to engage in tribal dancing that empowers their cultural identity, strengthens their emotional wellbeing, and builds their confidence. Support of the MSUB powwow is an investment in the cultural resiliencies of Native youth who are under-represented in college, as it provides them an opportunity to have a highly successful experience in a college setting where they will witness Native college students working diligently in hosting this important event.

Equine Assisted Services: MSU Billings offers MSUB students equine assisted services (EAS) as an additional method for counseling at no additional cost. This pilot program is shared through Riverstone Health’s Department of Public Health and Human Services Suicide Prevention Grant. Sessions will take place at Horses Spirits Healing, Inc., an equestrian center located off Highway 3 in Billings. The EAS student program is eight weeks long. Students will be evaluated periodically by their counselor for therapy efficacy. Funding will be available during the pilot project for a limited number of students per semester.


Department Wide Projects

Yellowjacket Athletic Excellence:  Our Athletic Excellence fund is designed to provide the greatest flexibility of all of our fundraised dollars. It can be used at our Athletic Director's discretion to support virtually any aspect of departmental operations. Ultimately all funds raised will go toward helping to enhance the student-athlete experience across our department.

Yellowjacket Athletic Scholarships:  Funds raised thru this Jacket Giving Day project will immediately impact the student-athlete experience for our Yellowjacket athletes by helping increase the available athletic aid for all our student-athletes regardless of team. Your support will help us ensure we are continuing to accomplish our mission to "facilitate positive, competitive and successful academic and athletic experiences for each student-athlete."

Yellowjacket Athletic Sports Performance:  *NEW THIS YEAR*  Funds raised thru this Jacket Giving Day project will immediately impact the student-athlete experience for our Yellowjacket athletes by helping to supplement the new and exciting partnership between Yellowjacket Athletics and Beartooth Performance here in Billings. This partnership has given our athletes access to NCAA D1-level strength & conditioning plus nutrition coaching. All funds raised thru this project on Jacket Giving Day will be used to help supplement and grow this partnership.

Yellowjacket Athletic Training: A crucial part of Yellowjacket Athletics' ability to facilitate our mission is our athletic training staff, who keep our athletes healthy and ensure they receive the best care possible. They (our trainers) not only care for our athletes at home contests but also typically make most away road trips where they spend time away from their friends and family for weeks at a time. This year's Jacket Giving Day project will be designed to help supplement an upcoming remodel of the Athletic Training facility on campus to ensure that we will continue to be able to offer the best standard of care in the GNAC.

Continuing to improve the Alterowitz Experience: The home of Yellowjacket Athletics since 1961, and a recognizable roofline in Billings, has seen many (if not all) historic moments in the history of Yellowjacket Athletics. Starting last year the department has made it a priority to identify aspects of the building that we can "freshen up"  so the building will look as good as it did in 1961 when we begin the second 100 years of MSUB in 2027. All funds raised for this project will be dedicated to identified department physical priorities around the building that will increase the visitor, coach and student experience. 

This year's area of focus will be the entrance to the Athletic Department and branding the entry so you know you're walking into the home of Yellowjacket Athletics. 

Sport Specific Projects (by season)


Yellowjacket Soccer:  This year both the men's and women's soccer programs will be working together again to continue to improve the student-athlete experience at Yellowjacket Soccer Field.   Our project's focus this year will be to replace and upgrade the field sound system to provide the best game day experience for both our student-athletes as well as our fans. This is yet another step in Yellowjacket Athletics' efforts to make Yellowjacket Soccer Field one of the best fields in Billings but also the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Yellowjacket Volleyball:  This year Yellowjacket Volleyball will be raising money to purchase an additional competition and practice net set. With the growth in popularity of volleyball recently in the state of Montana and Billings specifically Yellowjacket Volleyball has hosted multiple maximum capacity camps for local youth, as well as (Alterowitz Gym) serving as the host for multiple high school and other local/regional competitions. The additional net sets allow the program to have the resources to continue to serve as an asset to the local volleyball community while also ensuring that they have a resources of their own to use only for program needs and competition.

Yellowjacket Golf:  This year Yellowjacket Golf will be raising funds to support enhanced program travel for both squads in the ultra-competitive Great Northwest Athletic Conference and NCAA West Region. Funds raised from this Jacket Giving Day project will be used to help support program travel above and beyond the available budget. With a majority of our regional competitions taking place on the west coast the expense of travel (in today's environment) can be a financial strain and potentially limiting to our athletes ability to compete. This campaign will ensure that our golfers not only have the ability to compete - but compete on the best and biggest stages possible in order to return to the West Regional in 2023.

Yellowjacket Triathlon:  The Yellowjacket Triathlon Championship fund is designed to provide the greatest flexibility for Coach Bjerke the help to continue to provide a high quality student-athlete experience for his players and to continue Yellowjacket Triathlons trajectory towards become a championship level program.

Yellowjacket Cross Country & Track and Field:  This year Yellowjacket Cross Country & Track and Field will be raising money to purchase the necessary supplies to have their own dedicated space during events. Typically when Cross Country and/or Track and Field teams travel they bring with them tents, tables and other supplies that allow them to have a dedicated space for just our athletes that is out of the elements and not in the stadium grandstands (or other communal area.) Funds raised by this Jacket Giving Day campaign will give the Cross Country & Track and Field team the ability to purchase these supplies and drastically increase the student-athlete experience for this sport while on the road.


Yellowjacket Men's Basketball:  The 2022-2023 season was the most successful year for the Yellowjackets since joining the GNAC in 2006. To celebrate that success, and as with all athletic programs across the country, upgrading facilities is key to maintaining a championship level of excellence. Our current men's basketball locker room was last remodeled over 10+ years ago and this year for Jacket Giving Day our men's basketball program will be raising funds to start the remodel process this summer. Your support of this project will directly impact and increase the student-athlete experience for our men's basketball players while giving them a locker room they will be proud to call home.  

This Jacket Giving Day campaign will not completely fund the remodel - so if you're interested in this project further please contact Asst. AD for External Relations Nick Schmidt at:  nick.schmidt@msubfoundation.com OR  406.657.2253

Yellowjacket Spirit Squad:  After a two-year hiatus the Yellowjacket Spirit Squad was a welcomed addition back to the sidelines of Alterowitz Gym this season for Volleyball and Basketball season. Funds raised for this campaign during Jacket Giving Day will help continue to rebuild and recruit talent for this program heading into the 2023-2024 academic year to be better than ever and build back for long-term future success. 

Yellowjacket Women's Basketball:  The Yellowjacket Women's Basketball Championship fund is designed to provide the greatest flexibility for Coach Woodin and his staff to help to continue to provide a high quality student-athlete experience for his players and to maintain Yellowjacket Women's Basketball championship level expectations. Funds raised can be used at the Coach's discretion to support virtually any and all aspects of program operations. 


Yellowjacket Softball:  The Yellowjacket Softball Championship fund is designed to provide the greatest flexibility for Coach McKinney and her staff to help to continue to provide a high quality student-athlete experience for her players and to maintain Yellowjacket Softball's championship level expectations. Funds raised can be used at the Coach's discretion to support virtually any and all aspects of program operations.

Yellowjacket Baseball:  The Yellowjacket Baseball Championship fund is designed to provide the greatest flexibility for Coach Waddoups and his staff to help to continue to provide a high quality student-athlete experience for her players and to maintain Yellowjacket Baseball's championship level expectations. Funds raised can be used at the Coach's discretion to support virtually any and all aspects of program operations.