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Matthew Shepard Foundation chosen for $1 Mil "American Giving Awards" contest
Program Awards Grants Based on Online Voting by Public<

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From a News Release

CASPER, WYO. --- The Matthew Shepard Foundation is among only 25 U.S. charities chosen to compete for grants ranging from $125,000 to $1 million through the American Giving Awards, presented by Chase. Winners will be selected based on the public's votes on Facebook and .

The Foundation, founded by the parents of 1998 Laramie, Wyoming hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, works to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion and Acceptance" through community outreach, advocacy and by providing educational resources. Its aim is to promote equality for all Americans regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, and support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered young people who face bias in their daily lives.

The charity is among 25 past winners of grants from the online Chase Community Giving program, which awards grants based on the public's votes on Facebook. The Foundation won two grants totaling $62,000 in early 2010, which at the time funded major expansions of its online resources.

"The Foundation is incredibly honored to be among this group of extraordinary charities," said Judy Shepard, president of the Foundation board and its co-founder, along with her husband Dennis. "Even a $125,000 grant would be an incredible boost to our ability to support school and workplace diversity programs, and provide information and inspiration to young people who are bullied, discriminated against and made to feel alone because their peers see them as different."

Five categories of five charities are competing in the first round of voting; the top vote-getter from each category will compete in round two in December for grants of $125,000 to $1 million. The grants will be dedicated directly to the winning groups' proposed new charitable projects. The Foundation is seeking funding to develop online educational exercises to combat bullying and help victims develop skills to cope with and avoid harassment.

With offices in Casper and Denver, the Foundation, established in 1998, has reached several million people through school assemblies, media interviews, support of productions of "The Laramie Project," its youth-oriented online community, and other outreach programs.

Voting in the current round begins Sept. 28 and ends at noon Eastern time Wednesday, October 5.

For more information, visit the "American Giving Awards" page on Facebook. A direct link is available at and Chase customers may also cast an additional vote at .

The Foundation's programs and history can be found at .

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