In preparation for the back-to-school season, U.S. Cellular is extending its Community Connections program and providing additional sponsorship opportunities for local youth organizations. Academic and athletic groups in grades kindergarten through 12 in Maine can sign up at to receive sponsorship from the company to go toward the needs of their group.

Through the Community Connections program, U.S. Cellular sponsors hundreds of local youth groups, school programs and sports teams, such as Little Leagues, youth soccer clubs, school dance teams and bands. Once an interested group signs up at the website, it has 10 days to generate support from neighbors, friends, family and community to earn points by completing simple tasks such as visiting U.S. Cellular’s website, following U.S. Cellular on its social channels or answering a short survey. Points are then converted into dollars that go directly to the organization or group, and each group can earn up to $1,000 to be used toward uniforms, equipment or other program needs.

This year, U.S. Cellular has already provided $300,000 to youth organizations and school groups through this program and is committing an additional $300,000 to the program, for a total investment of $600,000 in 2016.