Giving back to our communities is a fundamental component of our company vision of powering a new and brighter future for our customers and communities. Through volunteerism and corporate giving, AEP is proud to support the vibrancy and resilience of the communities that we serve – as an energy company, as a utility and as a system of community support. In 2017, AEP and the American Electric Power Foundation donated approximately $16.8 million to support more than 1,520 community organizations.
A significant focus of our philanthropic giving is on education, especially STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, and basic human needs, such as hunger and housing. Focusing on STEM provides a pathway out of poverty for urban and rural youth. Many 21st century jobs will require proficiency in STEM courses, and these jobs have a high likelihood of delivering a living wage. Complementing the focus on education is a commitment to work with the public and private sectors to help those students, and their families, have access to nutritious food and a secure, safe place to live. We also support many cultural and community initiatives important to our customers.
Investing in Our Future through Education
AEP’s most significant area of philanthropic investment is STEM education. Credits CountSM, the signature program of the AEP Foundation, addresses the issues of college preparedness and affordability for underserved urban and rural students who wish to seek STEM-related career opportunities. In December 2017, the AEP Foundation awarded a $1.58 million Credits CountSM grant to reach approximately 2,200 students in Kanawha County, West Virginia, through partnership with BridgeValley Community and Technical College. AEP’s total commitment to the program to $14.2 million ($5.3 million paid through 2017) across seven states within AEP’s service territory.
Credits CountSM, the signature program of the AEP Foundation, addresses the issues of college preparedness and affordability for underserved urban and rural students who wish to seek STEM-related career opportunities.
Nitro High School and Riverside High School, as well as their respective feeder middle schools, will work with BridgeValley to support students in pursuing college-level STEM education while completing their high school diplomas. At the end of the program, students will graduate from high school with at least 12 credit hours toward a career-ready certificate or towards an associate’s degree in a STEM field. BridgeValley is the seventh recipient of the AEP Foundation’s Credits CountSM program.
Lynchburg Beacon of Hope, an organization focused on providing resources and tools for post-secondary educations to public school students in Lynchburg, Virginia, was awarded a $20,000 grant from the AEP Foundation in December 2017. Beacon of Hope aims to empower students by building pathways between high school and higher education, subsequently addressing barriers that prevent students from accessing opportunities of higher education. This grant will fund the Future Centers program, which provides resources that support financial aid, college admissions, and after school technical training programs to public high school students.
The Boys & Girls Club of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is an organization that enables young people, especially those who are most in need, to reach their full potential. In August 2017, the AEP Foundation granted $75,000 in support of the organization’s new Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Laboratory, which opened in December of 2017. This facility features computers for academic research, robotic coursework, and hands on experimentation through STEAM programming. With this resource, the Boys & Girls Club will be better equipped to help students tap into their full potential, especially as demand for this programming grows.
AEP established the Teacher Vision Grant program in 2003 to provide better opportunities for student academic achievement and creativity. Teachers of pre-K through grade 12 receive funding to help implement classroom projects that enable students to achieve these goals. For example, in May 2017, 199 teachers received a total of $69,000, including 15 teachers who received grants totaling $7,500 from AEP’s Southwestern Electric Power Company throughout its three state service area. Specifically, these teachers are implementing projects that focus on science, mathematics, technology, electrical safety, energy efficiency, and the balanced study of energy and the environment.
Investing in Basic Human Needs
Community organizations play a pivotal role in the well-being of individual community members, as well as the social fabric of the community itself. These organizations provide assistance for shelter, food, education, skills training, and more. We realize that investing in the resources of community organizations bridges the gap between the potential of an individual to be independent and the obstacles to success that they might face. When we elevate and invest in our communities, we are helping to build a brighter future.
In December 2017, the AEP Foundation awarded $50,000 to initiate a workforce development and housing opportunity program run through the organization MOSAIC, which serves the community of Benton Harbor and Berrien County, Michigan. This program, called MOSAIC Develop, will connect individuals in its workforce development programs to home renovation projects in the community. Six to 10 homes per year will be renovated, providing affordable housing options and investments for local low income residents. The program is expected to be 80 percent self-supporting within the first three years.
The YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, Indiana, accepted a $100,000 grant from the AEP Foundation in November 2017 to build a new facility. The facility is specifically focused on promoting wellness for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These resources provide recreational and social opportunities for people with disabilities that are not traditionally available in community wellness activities.