Matching cooperative donations provide needed technology for Montana schools during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Student in desk
Students at Plentywood and Westby Schools in northeast Montana received Chromebooks for distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a donation from Sheridan Electric and Basin Electric. Students at both schools are back to learning in-person and have continued using the Chromebooks for their daily schoolwork. Shown in the photo are students at Westby School using their Chromebooks.

Cooperation among cooperatives, concern for community, and education are three of the seven principles Basin Electric and its members operate under the cooperative business model, and all were showcased in a recent donation made to two northeast Montana schools.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Class C member Sheridan Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Medicine Lake, Montana, was asked to support two area schools challenged with providing enough needed technology for students in the event they needed to continue their education at home.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, schools in our service territory were faced with the possibility of having to do distance learning,” says Josh Johnson, Sheridan Electric’s member service and marketing manager. “Plentywood and Westby Schools approached us to donate towards purchasing Chromebooks so that they would have enough for each of their students to use in the event that they had to go to distance learning.”

Sheridan Electric responded with a $2,500 donation to help fund the purchase of the Chromebooks. The cooperative’s donation doubled when it applied for Basin Electric matching funds, bringing the total to $5,000. Each year, Basin Electric allocates a portion of its Charitable Giving Program’s budget as matching funds for donations made by its member systems, allowing their donations to go even farther in their communities.

The funds helped purchase 40 Chromebooks for the schools. Along with other donations the schools received, this was enough to provide all students with a Chromebook.

“Sheridan Electric takes pride in donating to the education of the youth in our community, and greatly appreciates Basin Electric’s matching funds,” Johnson says.