Montanan Receives National Award for Advocacy of Jobs for Montana’s Graduates

HELENA – The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) today announced that Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) presented the National Above and Beyond Award to Montanan Andy Shirtliff for his continued advocacy and support of the Jobs for Montana’s Graduates (JMG) program.

Andy Shirtliff

Shirtliff, an Outreach Specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration, was presented with the award on Thursday, December 3. He was recognized for his role in educating businesses, entrepreneurs, educators, peers and governmental entities about JAG’s mission and the positive impacts the state JMG program has had on students and graduates across Montana.

“Andy has been a strong advocate for JAG and the Jobs for Montana’s Graduates program,” JMG Director Erica Swanson said. “I’m proud to have him as an ally as we further JMG’s mission to equip Montana students with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue further education or begin a career.”

Shirtliff’s advocacy led to JMG establishing a partnership with One Montana and Youth Entrepreneurs-Montana to provide additional resources for JMG students to learn about entrepreneurship, project-based learning, and business engagement. Shirtliff received a plaque presented by the JAG Board of Directors during a virtual meeting, highlighting his support of Montana students. Thirty-seven JAG state affiliates nominated an advocate or supporter for consideration, with 12 of those selected to receive the national award. JMG nominated Shirtliff in October.


"Montana is known as the Last Best Place and I believe that our young people are our nation's last best hope, they are our future. Montana's businesses and communities are in need of a trained and educated workforce; and to help fill that need, the Jobs for Montana's Graduates program has helped tens of thousands of students build their confidence, find job opportunities, and develop the skills needed for success,” Shirtliff said. “It was truly an honor to have been selected for this award, thank you to the folks at JMG and the JMG career counselors who've done great work with students all across the state for the last 30 years."


JMG, administered by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, is a state chapter of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national organization dedicated to improving outcomes among students with serious hurdles to graduating or employment. The program received its fourteenth “5-of-5” award earlier this year, the highest recognition presented to state chapters by JAG, honoring states who achieve or surpass a series of graduation rate, job placement and positive outcome standards.


About Jobs for Montana’s Graduates


Jobs for Montana’s Graduates provides students an opportunity to practice decision-making, critical thinking, and leadership skills; while learning the essential professional skills needed for career readiness to gain employment in Montana’s workforce. The program started as a JAG chapter 30 years ago to serve middle and high school students. 


JMG encourages Montana students to stay in school, graduate, and successfully transition from school to the workforce, college, apprenticeships, or military service. The program has positively affected over 22,000 students across Montana and currently serves approximately 1,100 youth across 50 educational facilities. To learn more about JMG, visit


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