Peter Rosten Wins National Award For MAPS Work

Peter Rosten, founder and president of the MAPS Media Institute, has been named a national 2013 Purpose Prize fellow by, a nonprofit organization that doles out large-scale investment awards for senior social entrepreneurs and creative problem solvers.

MAPS Media Institute is a Hamilton-based nonprofit afterschool media arts and sciences program for rural middle- and high-school students. Rosten was chosen as one of only 43 fellows from a pool of 1,000 nominees, and he is the only fellow chosen from Montana this year and only the second Montanan in Purpose Prize history.

Rosten was a longtime Hollywood film and television producer before relocating to Darby in 2002. He worked with the Corvallis School District in 2004 to start a digital media class with his own money, an old camera and a handful of low-tech computers, and established both the Irwin and Florence Rosten Foundation (a nonprofit named after his parents) and the Media Arts in the Public Schools (MAPS) program.

In 2005, MAPS became a state-endorsed and accredited class, and in 2009, due to student enthusiasm and parental and community demand, MAPS evolved and expanded into an after-school program and was renamed the MAPS Media Institute.

Now serving all five Ravalli County school districts, MAPS has developed its own state-of-the-art facility that offers free courses in filmmaking, design, music and computer science. A public/private partnership, the program has attracted local, statewide and national fee-based clients who compensate the program to produce award-winning commercials, PSAs, documentaries and short films.

“By combining our students’ arts education with the real world of business, MAPS provides an early window into the risks and rewards that awaits our pupils in the future,” Rosten said in a statement. “Although I had no experience as an educator, my years as an entertainment entrepreneur somehow transferred to the school environment.”

Rosten has won numerous other awards over the years, including “Volunteer of the Year” from the Corvallis School District in 2005), the “Award of Excellence” from the Society for New Communications Research in 2007, the “Community Asset Award” from the Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce in 2009 and the “Award of Excellence” from the Montana Office of the Governor in 2012.

Rosten said the most recent award is also a reflection of the great staff at the MAPS program.

“Although I’m greatly appreciative and honored to receive this fellowship, it is a reflection of our team’s collective effort,” he said. “Fortunately I’m the only one of our group over 60 that made me uniquely qualified.”

Also this year, MAPS received a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In the Academy’s 45-year history, MAPS is only the second Academy Educational Grant to be awarded in Montana. As a result of the honor, the NYU/Tisch School of the Arts called and requested a site visit to interview MAPS graduates.

MAPS places service learning high on its priority list. In 2011, the school instituted a “Give Back” program whereby students produce pro-bono projects for a wide variety of recipients. Most recently, the Montana Hope Project ( and the Bitterroot Youth Homes ( received these services.

To view MAPS students’ work, visit

Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or