McCrory Foundation awards immediate grants to 3 county school districts

Michael D. Smith

An area philanthropic organization has helped some of the smallest school districts in Carter County manage their pandemic responses. The McCrory Foundation last week awarded $40,000 worth of grants to Springer, Wilson and Zaneis schools for immediate help with financial burdens associated with COVID-19.

The McCrory Foundation had already provided about $400,000 worth of grants through July and expects to provide more than $1 million throughout 2020, according to a statement. 

“The foundation recently became aware of the fact that a number of smaller schools in Carter County were in need of additional funding to cover expenses related to the COVID-19 epidemic,” read the statement.

So the foundation invited six of the smallest school districts in the county to submit a grant request in August. Last week, the foundation either delivered or mailed checks to Springer, Zaneis and Wilson. 

Wilson Public Schools will complete a planned upgrade of 14 drinking fountains across the entire campus. Superintendent Tonya Finnerty said the school had long-term plans of replacing fountains with water bottle filling stations, but the pandemic put a priority on minimizing health risks.

Donations from American Nation Bank and Toyota of Ardmore helped secure three systems, and a $12,000 grant from McCrory Foundation allowed the district to complete the upgrades. Finnerty said they have all been ordered and are expected to arrive sometime this month.

“With these donations, it gave us the opportunity to do those a little bit quicker,” Finnerty said by phone on Tuesday.

Students in Springer will benefit from an electrostatic sprayer and 40 tablet computers for early childhood. Superintendent Cynthia Hunter said she was thankful for the $13,000 grant to provide tools needed to serve students. 

"The grant fulfilled an immediate need due to difficulties of trying to educate students appropriately and safely during our current response to Covid-19," Hunter said in an email.

Last week, Zaneis Public School announced they were awarded $10,000 for extra costs associated with cleaning supplies. Zaneis schools last year sanitized at the end of each day but has since moved to sanitizing between each class change.

The McCrory Foundation was established in 1993 in memory of the McCrory family, who owned a ranch and mineral interests west of Springer, according to the foundation’s website. The foundation focuses its support primarily for humanitarian projects in Carter County and distributed nearly $1.1 million last year to groups and organizations across southern Oklahoma.