FOREST CITY-- Facebook, Inc. recently announced the recipients of its sixth annual local grants program. Organizations in Rutherford, Cleveland, Polk and McDowell counties were eligible to apply for grants, and more than 40 applications were submitted.

The 17 selected nonprofits and organizations will receive grants for specific projects that use technology for community benefit; connect people online or off; improve education; or promote local economic benefit. This year, the focus has been primarily on education — specifically STEM and literacy programs. To date, the Forest City data center has contributed more than $890,000 through the Community Action Grants program. Media Coordinators Vickie Blankenship of East McDowell Middle School and Julie McKinney of Old Fort Elementary both received grants from this program. EMMS received $13,498 to purchase Google Expeditions Kids for 40 students.

“The Google Expedition Kit is virtual reality goggles that allow students to visit numerous places around the world past and present such the trenches of World War I, the International Space Station, tour colleges and universities and much more,” said Blankenship.

Old Fort Elementary received $13,000 and will use this money to update the schools Makerspace.

“We’re committed to playing a positive role in the community and helping people in western North Carolina put the power of technology to work for them,” said Gayden Pack, Forest City site manager at Facebook. “We’re fortunate to be in Forest City, and we’re especially proud this year for the opportunity to help strengthen young minds through STEM and literacy programs.”

Information on the next cycle of Facebook community grants will be announced in summer 2018. All eligible organizations are welcome to apply, regardless of if they received grants in this round. For more information, visit