Francisca Benitez

U.S. Cellular, the fifth largest telecommunication network in the nation, is offering youth groups an opportunity to fundraise that is much more high-tech than selling candy bars or collecting cans and bottles. Instead, groups can earn money by using social media.

The U.S. Cellular program, called Community Connections, began in 2015 and can sponsor youth organizations with up to $1,000 toward expenses.

According to U.S. Cellular’s website, many different types of groups, like sports teams and academic clubs, can apply to participate in the program,

and funding raised goes toward “uniforms, equipment, travel and other group expenses.”

“We encourage them to sign up on our website and see how easy it is to make money for their group,” said Tyler Botts, manager at the La Grande U.S. Cellular store.

The program has awarded more than $1.3 million since it was founded four years ago. Any group can apply online. If accepted they will have 14 days to earn points toward a goal. Tasks that earn the group points are things such as liking U.S. Cellular’s social media pages, watching U.S. Cellular advertisements and completing surveys. The groups will need to get as many people as possible to do the tasks to earn points before the end date. According to U.S. Cellular’s website, it takes the support of about 175 to 250 people to reach a goal and get full sponsorship. Since groups have only two weeks to reach the goal, U.S. Cellular suggested having a campaign ready to rally community support. It takes just a couple of minutes and is completely free to help groups earn points.

Anyone can sign up or support active campaigns at

There are five campaigns through the program in Oregon on U.S. Cellular’s website, three of which were completed without reaching a monetary goal. The highest Oregon earner is Culver High School’s men’s basketball, which earned $544 for summer basketball camps on university campuses.

More than 2,800 groups have received funding through the program, and applications can be submitted year round.

“As a dedicated member of the La Grande community, we as an organization are committed to these programs that have a positive impact on the lives of children,” Botts said.