Montana Nonprofit Wins Emmy for Outstanding Accomplishments

MISSOULA, Mont. — A Montana nonprofit recently earned national honors for its outstanding and unique accomplishments.

MAPS Media Institute received the prestigious Governors’ Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest. The academy’s president recognized MAPS for “helping young people find their voice through storytelling in a unique and powerful way.” The nonprofit media arts program offers year-round training in fields like graphic design, music production, photojournalism and more. Its Media Lab provides professional instruction to rural and first nation communities around the state.

MAPS Media Institute released the following information:

On June 3rd, 2023, during the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Northwest (NATAS NW) 60th annual ceremony in Seattle, Washington, MAPS Media Institute, received the Governors’ Award. The Governors’ Award is the highest Award a local chapter can bestow and is given for truly outstanding and unique accomplishments or for achievements of some duration and durability. For this an Emmy™ Statuette is given.

MAPS Media Institute’s Executive Director Clare Ann Harff, Communications & Marketing Director Janna Williams, and MAPS Fort Belknap student Amilia Blackcrow accepted the Award.

“Receiving the 2023 NATAS NW Governors’ Award is humbling. There are 19 years of people, places, experiences, stories, and supporters packed into our Emmy™!” said Harff after delivering her acceptance speech – words that expressed MAPS mission, vision, and values.

As a statewide Montana nonprofit, MAPS empowers, inspires, and prepares future generations for success through professional media arts instruction, engaging community service, and compassionate mentoring. Established in 2004 as a free-of-charge after-school media arts program, MAPS Media Institute began teaching only twenty 20 eager filmmaking students. Today, MAPS offers year-round programming in 2 brick-and-mortar Montana locations (Hamilton and Helena) and classes in all media arts mediums, including graphic design, music production, new technologies, podcast, photojournalism, and more.

To create greater access, In 2017, MAPS started the MAPS Media Lab – their statewide educational outreach program that brings industry-level equipment and professional instruction to rural and First Nation communities across Montana. Because of this, MAPS Media Institute is also NATAS NW’s 2023 “Trailblazer in Diversity” for Montana.

The “Trailblazers in Diversity” video project was created and led by the NATAS NW diversity committee in the Spring of 2023 to highlight professionals who faced and overcame obstacles. A video was produced for each of their five state regions which include Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

“We are excited to recognize the incredible work MAPS Media Institute is doing throughout Montana,” said Nicole Sanchez, NATAS NW president. “This nonprofit is truly helping young people find their voice through storytelling in a unique and powerful way.”

MAPS Media Institute and Media Lab have established foundational connections that elevate student voices to new heights. Through MAPS, students have started community conversations to better understand the world around them.

While this is acknowledgment enough, MAPS has received multiple awards including the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award given by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services in cooperation with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Since 2015 MAPS student films have been nominated for and won nearly thirty awards.

Among them are:

  • 3 NATAS NW Awards of Excellence;
  • 8 Short Form Nonfiction Regional Student Production NATAS NW Awards;
  • 2 Long Form Nonfiction Regional Student Production NATAS NW Awards;
  • and 2 National NATAS Awards for both Short and Long Form Nonfiction.

To provide free-of-charge and professionally taught programming to students, MAPS funding comes from federal and state agencies, private foundation contributions, and client-based projects.

Watch MAPS Media Institute’s acceptance speech, Montana “Trailblazers in Diversity” tribute video, and learn more about them at

Read this article on the NBC Montana Website