Facebook presents $125,000 in community grants

Dec. 01, 2013 @ 05:09 AM

Fifteen nonprofit and community organizations were awarded a total of $125,000 in grants as part of the third annual Facebook Community Action Grant program.

The recipients, including educators, town officials, law enforcement and emergency personnel, were officially recognized and presented checks during the Christmas lighting ceremony in downtown Forest City on Thursday evening.

"Over the last three years we have presented nearly $300,00 in donations and grant money through the program in Rutherford County," said Keven McCammon, manager at Forest City Facebook Data Center. "A lot of organizations are struggling and for us to be able to do this and give this money to them is an awesome feeling."

Grant recipients will be using the money for specific projects that utilize technology for community benefit, connect people online or offline, improve education or promote local economic benefit.

One grant recipient was R-S Middle School, which will use the funds for the purchase of three Apple iPads to evaluate the school's instructional practices through online tools.

"Our administration will be using the iPads for feedback as we conduct walkthroughs and observe teacher instruction," said Assistant Principal Sherri Blanton. "The iPads will really facilitate with helping teachers to teach better."

Mount Vernon-Ruth Elementary School also received a grant for the purchase of 15 MacBook Air laptops for classroom instruction.

"The MacBooks are going to give our younger students the same opportunities that our sixth through twelfth graders do," said Principal Keith Ezell.

Another school receiving a grant was Pinnacle Elementary School for the purchase of six iPad minis to assist with multimedia activities led by the 4-H program.

"The grant money will have a three-fold purpose for our 4-H groups. We're super excited and the kids will be, too," said Sharon Jacob, the librarian at Pinnacle who also assists with the school's 4-H program. "We have close to 70 students in the program and we needed more technology for the students' multimedia presentations. Secondly, we will use the iPads for our parent resource room to allow parents to check them out to help their children. Finally, teachers will be able to use the iPads for presentations and teaching purposes."

Isothermal Community College (ICC) was another grant recipient, intending to use the funds for the installation and management of an NC ECONet station, a climate and weather database system across North Carolina.

"We are very appreciative of this grant and are excited about our partnership with the National Climate Data Center in Asheville," said ICC President Walter Dalton. "The name 'Isothermal' is a weather term. This grant will allow us to not only collect climate data in the area, but also provide more opportunities for students in the sciences and help create new weather courses."

In conjunction with ICC, East Rutherford High School received a grant for the funding of professional training sessions to equip teachers, and subsequently students, with resources on climate change, resource management and sustainability.

"East Rutherford will be partnering with ICC and will be a pilot school for the growing area of climate sciences," said Principal Brad Teague. "Teachers will receive training that they will be able to pass onto their students."

Another recipient of a Facebook Community Action Grant was Family Resources of Rutherford County, Inc., which will use the money to purchase a copier, printer and scanner for Noah's House.

"These items will assist the kids staying at the shelter. They already knew about the grant and are very excited," said Sherry Bright with Family Resources.

The organization also received an in-kind award of three Windows laptops to be used by the shelter's school-aged residents.

Among the emergency personnel receiving grants was Rutherford County Life Saving & First Aid Crew, Inc. for the purchase of StreetWise CADlink software that will provide patient information in the field and enable faster response times.

"We will be able to pull up directions while we are on the way to our location," said Captain Mike Souther. "We'll also see the dispatch information before we get to the scene."

Rutherford County EMS was the other emergency organization presented with a grant for the purchase of five stair chair lifts to assist in the transport of patients.

"These lifts will help us bring patients down steps and will be safer for them as well as paramedics," said Operation Manager Terry Baynard.

One of the towns in Rutherford County awarded a grant was Spindale for the purchase of services to connect public works and the wastewater treatment plant into the fiber-optic network.

"We appreciate Facebook presenting the town with this grant, and Commissioner Tom Roberson for suggesting this idea," said Mayor Mickey Bland. "This will help the town attract future industries to the area."

Additional nonprofit and community organizations that received grants include R-S Youth Football & CheerleadingRutherfordton Small Town Economic Project (STEP) to assist in bringing Wi-Fi access to downtown Rutherfordton; Lake Lure Police Department for the purchase of three mobile data terminals, specialized devices to be used in patrol vehicles; and the Town of Forest City for the purchase of digital radios, monitor pages and an outdoor emergency call box as well as an in-kind award of 10 Windows laptops for the Mooneyham Public Library. Association for the purchase of new football equipment to accommodate the increasing number of participants; Youth Empowerment Inc. for the purchase of fiber-optic services as well as an in-kind award of five Windows laptops to increase Internet connectivity; Rutherford Opportunity Center for the purchase of tablets, cameras and projectors for classroom instruction;

"Forest City and the surrounding Rutherford County have welcomed us with open arms, and we're committed to investing in its residents through our local grants program," McCammon said. "We're thrilled to work with these organizations to help make a real impact in the community and meet critical needs here."