The social network company gave more than 20 grants to multiple local groups

by: JASON CHANEY - Crook County High School students Brick Woodward (LEFT) and Kody Kuk work with some physics equipment purchased with money from a 2013 Facebook Community Action grant. The high school science department received another $8,000 grant this year.

Facebook recently announced the recipients of its fourth round of Community Action Grants, and several local agencies benefitted from the more than 20 grants awarded.

The awards went to a variety of applicants in Crook County from Advantage Smiles for Kids, which received $3,000 to provide orthodontic treatment for low-income residents, and Christmas in the Pines, which will receive $5,000 to add an ice-skating rink, bazaar community crafters, and local vendors to its holiday display.

“It is awesome, because a lot of work went into this,” said Christmas in the Pines committee member Kathy Gaillard. “Everything from last year was donated.”

The Humane Society of the Ochoco was also given $5,000 to help launch a microchip program for local cats and dogs that will help local law enforcement return runaway pets to their owners and keep them out of the animal shelter.

“We have been looking at trying to do a snip to chip program for quite a while,” said HSO board member Bill Zelenka. “The initial plan was to microchip 1,200 pets this year. The grant we got won’t let us do that, but it will allow us to hopefully microchip 400 animals, register them, and provide a scanner to the (Crook County) Sheriff’s Office.”

Public education earned the most number of grants this year as the Crook County School District was awarded grants for 11 programs. Of those, Crook County High School received money for five programs, and the middle school was granted funds for two others.

“The high school is very excited,” said CCHS Principal Michelle Jonas. “We have always appreciated the support that Facebook gives us. We are excited to see these new projects.”

In addition to a track and field grant they are sharing with the middle school ($1,500), another for the youth transition program ($3,500), and money for the senior all-night party ($2,500), the high school was awarded money for its new tech club as well as its science department.

“This is going to expand some of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) money we received from Facebook before,” Jonas said of an $8,000 grant awarded to the high school science department. She added that the $8,000 going to the computer science department will help them expand their new tech club as well.

Facebook spokesman Lee Weinstein said that the tech company received many applications for its grant program this year. With the number approaching 60, it far exceeds the number of applicants in prior years.

“There were terrific applications,” he said. “It took a great deal of time and focus to review all of those.”

To meet the eligibility requirements for the Community Action grants, applicants had to request funding for a project to be completed in the next 12 month, and only nonprofits and public agencies could apply.

Weinstein said their choices focus on projects that help bring people together either in person or electronically, much the same way the Facebook site is designed. Beyond that, they seek to reward projects that emphasize economic development and education.

The grant recipient representatives were invited to a reception at the Facebook data center today where they were given a tour of the facility and received their grant certificates.

“It has been really rewarding for everybody who has been involved in it,” Weinstein said of the grant program. “We were really pleased with the interest this year.”

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