Lacey Peterson
The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County students are getting much needed supplemental classroom materials and funding thanks to mini-grants offered by Front Porch, Inc. Internet company.

"Being in the high tech industry we decided we'd focus our efforts on math and science," explained Holly Britton, Front Porch director of community giving.

Front Porch Inc. specializes in customer messaging and advertising for

Internet providers. Its systems allow clients to communicate with

customers, generate advertising revenue, and streamline processes like

alerts, auto-payments and surveys.

The company funded week-long math and science camps over the summer

at Columbia College and will sponsor Dinner with a Scientist at the end

of November. It also donates to performing arts and fine arts, Britton


"The program is called the 'Make it Happen,' program. We wanted the

teachers who are excited, inspired and motivated but don't have the

money. We wanted the money to be in their hands, to motivate the kids,"

Britton said.

Grants from $100 to $1,000 have been used to refurbish musical

instruments, start gardens and at Mother Lode Christian School, the

creation of a science lab.

Front Porch grants enabled the school to get a new skeleton model

for the lab, a globe with constellations, new microscopes and boxes of

slides, two laptops and printing station, an experiment table, rocks

and beakers, said Kim Hartsell, Mother Lode Christian School secretary.

Students will soon dissect sharks in the new lab, Hartsell said.

"What's really neat is our kids love the lab. They're so much more

excited about class because it's so much more hands on," Hartsell said.

Indeed the grants have augmented programs at other area schools,

like Jamestown School, where several teachers received mini-grants in


Some teachers will use the funding for science camp, while others

will use it for art instruction or to offset costs for visiting the

elderly, said Diane Dotson, Jamestown School District superintendent.

"We know there are teachers who are excited and want to do

something. We want to hand them the money and say make it happen,"

Britton said.

Front Porch in 2010 has given $110,000 to local education, including scholarships.

Teachers can apply online and Britton says she'll be going around to schools discussing grant criteria.

"We hope to be a help. The economy is so tenuous … whether Front

Porch will be around … While we can we really want to be a part of

educating kids in our community," Britton said.

For more information on Front Porch education grants visit

Contact Lacey Peterson at or 588-4529.