Supporting Our Communities
Giving back to our communities is foundational to our vision of powering a brighter future. Through volunteerism and corporate giving, we proudly support the vibrancy and resilience of the communities we serve – as an energy provider and a system of community support. We have a keen focus on promoting diverse organizations as communities work to rebuild with a new sense of normalcy. In 2021, AEP and the American Electric Power Foundation donated approximately $35.1 million to support more than 1,500 community organizations.
Social and Racial Justice Efforts
The social and racial unrest that swept across the country led to a nationwide call not only for race education and awareness but also for the dismantling of barriers and policies that contribute to systemic and structural racism. We are committed to fostering a culture where differences are valued and recognized as a significant positive influence on our ability to serve our employees, customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders. We want to match our desire to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion in our local communities with visible actions.
Delivering On the Dream
One way we’re doing this is through the AEP Foundation’s Social and Racial Justice grant program, Delivering On the Dream. This program began in 2021 and is a five-year, $5 million investment that funds organizations with programs dedicated to advancing social and racial justice in the communities we serve. In the initiative’s first year, the AEP Foundation approved over $3.5 million in contributions. This included a $1 million, multi-year grant to the YWCA in Columbus and donations totaling $1 million made to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Southern University in Shreveport, La.; Wiley College in Marshall, Texas; Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas; and Bluefield State College in Bluefield, W.Va. AEP and its Foundation are proud to partner with these organizations dedicated to empowering equity for our customers, neighbors and employees of color.
With a $500,000 grant announced by the AEP Foundation and Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Greenwood Rising opened its doors to visitors from around the world in 2021. Greenwood Rising, the flagship project of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, is a world-class history center located at the gateway to Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District. Greenwood Rising honors the icons of Black Wall Street, memorializes the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and examines lessons of the past to inspire meaningful, sustainable action in the present.
In 2021, we made a significant portion of our philanthropic giving to education programs from pre-kindergarten through higher education with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 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. Some of AEP’s educational contributions include:
- In partnership with NAACP Muncie Branch and Ivy Tech Community College, the AEP Foundation pledged $225,000 over three years to support the Ivy Tech Muncie Youth Empowerment Program, providing leadership development and educational programming for minority high school students.
- Public Service Company of Oklahoma announced an AEP Foundation pledge of $1.25 million over five years to support the Gathering Place Explore & Imagine program, which offers a wide variety of free educational opportunities for students, educators and families to increase equity and access to engaging educational experiences for the community. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Explore & Imagine at the Gathering Place served over 60,000 individuals and over 100 Title I schools in 2021.
- During 2021, the AEP Foundation continued a three-year $100,000 grant to the Radford University Summer Bridge Program to offer hands-on STEM-learning college prep mentoring.
- The AEP Foundation’s Teacher Vision Grants program helps remove funding barriers to innovative learning by offering grants of between $100 and $500 to educators. The grants support teachers from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 who live or teach in the AEP service area or in communities with major AEP facilities. In 2021, AEP provided grants to teachers and schools in nine of 11 states served. Projects included 107 grants totaling $50,580 for the purchase of engineering and Electrical STEM Lab Kits, STEM-related books, and TI Innovator Hubs to assist students in learning about computer programing.
Ball State University Foundation’s Corporate Partner of the Year
Ball State University Foundation recognized Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) and American Electric Power (AEP), I&M’s parent company, as its 2021 Corporate Partner of the Year. Ball State recognized I&M and AEP because of a focus on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and by meeting basic needs for emergency shelter, affordable housing and the elimination of hunger.
Supporting community projects and programs requires more than financial support. It requires time and labor to make progress possible. Every year, AEP employees from around our service territory give their time, talent and financial donations to a variety of organizations in the communities where we live and work. Our employees are a consistent force making our communities stronger and better when times are good and when hardship strikes.
The AEP volunteer spirit prevailed even in the face of the pandemic. Employees from across the system applied for and received AEP Making a Difference grants to help local nonprofit organizations or schools in their service territory. From Longview, Texas, to St. Joseph, Michigan, and points in between, 33 organizations received grants of up to $300 each. These grants allowed teams of employee volunteers to conduct virtual or COVID-safe efforts including holiday toy drives, meal and care-package distributions, facility beautification projects and more.