Many Southeast Polk students finished the school year benefiting from technology investments made possible by grant funding from Facebook. The company, which broke ground on its Altoona Data Center in 2013, and continues to build out its data center campus, provided a $220,000 donation to support our district’s rapid switch to online and remote learning due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. 

“Providing grant funds to our local school districts is a way to support the community that has been a great partner and is home to our employees,” said Matt Sexton, Community Development Regional Manager for Facebook. “The school administration and staff, the families, and students were all making big changes and we were thankful for the opportunity to help them with technology to assist learning both now and in the future.”

In April, every Southeast Polk teacher reached out to their students to see how they were doing during the time of closure. The teachers also asked a series of questions to determine any gaps in technology.  This information was used to assist our technology department to address connectivity challenges for households with no or limited internet services.

Internet connectivity for our students during the pandemic was just one solution that Facebook funds immediately aided the school district with. Facebook funds are also being used to help purchase initial technology devices in the form of Chromebooks for all kindergarten, first, and second graders this fall. With these new Chromebooks, all students in the school district will be equipped to learn in a 1:1 environment.

Jason Kurth, Southeast Polk’s Director of Technology, shared, “ Our partnership with Facebook has positively impacted many of our students during a time of unexpected challenges.  In the early weeks of COVID-19, Facebook reached out to the district with an offer to help and within weeks of the offer, they announced the $220,000.00 gift. The funds allowed us to respond to the current crisis, and will also allow us to be better prepared for the 2020-2021 school year.”

“Our district maintained our continuous learning plan through the COVID-19 pandemic and we know that this grant and previous grants from Facebook and other partners are important to our success,” said Dr. Dirk Halupnik, superintendent of Southeast Polk Community School District. “Having the right tools and resources helps us engage students at every level, especially for STEM learning and programs like Project Lead The Way. We are grateful to have companies like Facebook and its employees investing in our community, our schools, and our students. In the middle of this pandemic, this generous action by Facebook demonstrates their commitment to our community and to our students.”

Facebook has proven to be an essential business partner to the Southeast Polk Community School District. Over the past six years, the Altoona Data Center’s Community Action Grant program and this recent COVID-19 gift have provided nearly $600,000 for STEM and connected digital learning to our district. In addition to our school district, Bondurant-Farrar Community School District has received grants from Facebook as well. As nonprofit organizations and schools are diligently managing tight budgets, grant programs like this allow our teachers and students opportunities that might not otherwise be possible. Facebook is providing grants for East Polk small businesses, nonprofits, schools, and others in need during the COVID-19 pandemic totaling more than $900,000.

At Southeast Polk, we create curriculum and learning opportunities centered on the latest guidance in theory and education with the mission to prepare our students for success in college, career, and civic life. Community grants and partnerships like these provide the support needed to allow us to continue to put our students first and aid them in meeting high standards of academic achievement. We are very thankful for our partnership with Facebook.