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By Billings Gazette


Thirteen nonprofit organizations, most of them in Montana, were recently awarded grants totaling $100,000 from the Margaret V. Ping Foundation.

The foundation was founded in 2009 by Margaret Ping who died in 2016 in Billings at the age of 103. Ping worked for the YWCA for many years, on the local, national and international levels, and she helped start Habitat for Humanity in Billings.

In 1994, she became the second recipient of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Award from Rocky Mountain College’s Peace Institute, and in 2014 she received the YWCA of Billings’ first Meritorious Service Award. She was also instrumental in developing the Big Horn County Historical Museum, built on land donated by Ping’s family.

She started the Margaret V. Ping Foundation to support organizations offering both direct services and long-term solutions to problems related to peace and justice, hunger and protecting the environment. As its mission statement says, the “Foundation is organized for charitable, educational, and religious purposes related to peace and justice, combating hunger, and addressing environmental concerns.”

This year’s grant recipients help promote that mission through a wide variety of means. Soft Landing, in Missoula, for instance, assists refugees and immigrants to integrate and thrive in their new home. Family Service, in Billings, works to prevent and alleviate hunger, homelessness and poverty in Yellowstone County and surrounding areas through community involvement.

It was also Ping’s intention that the foundation would support not only well-established organizations, but smaller groups that might not have easy access to funding, either because of their size or because their work might be considered controversial. Most of the annual grants — ranging this year from $1,000 to $10,000 — are awarded to Montana organizations, but regional groups are also considered.

In addition to Soft Landing and Family Service, grant recipients this year were Angela’s Piazza, Alternatives to Violence, Helping Hands, Crow Language Consortium, National Forest Foundation, Missoula Aging Services, Montana Environmental Information Center, Montana Audubon Center, Mountain Home, Northern Plains Resource Council, and the YWCA of Billings.

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