Giving back to our communities is fundamental 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. As 2020 brought many unexpected challenges, our support of our local communities became a lifeline for many. In 2020, AEP and the American Electric Power Foundation donated nearly $38.5 million to support more than 1,200 community organizations.
Supporting Our Communities During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted our customers and communities. The AEP Foundation donated nearly $4 million in emergency funds to support basic human needs during the pandemic. Grants were made across our service territory to nonprofit organizations addressing hardships faced by customers and communities. As the pandemic and its effects linger on, we will continue to support our local communities through direct financial support and employee volunteerism. Learn more about our efforts to support our employees, customers and communities in the COVID-19 section.
Social and Racial Justice Grants
The social and racial unrest that swept across the country led to a nationwide call for race education and awareness but also for dismantling 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.
Beginning in 2021, we are expanding the AEP Foundation’s philanthropic scope through the creation of a Social and Racial Justice grant program: “Delivering On the Dream.” The grants will play a pivotal role in addressing systemic racism by directing funds to support non-profits that are focused on outcomes that enhance social and racial justice. This new $5 million, multi-year program will provide funding to local and national organizations with operations and/or active programs within our footprint to embrace change and equity for neighbors of color, customers and employees. We also will encourage employees to make personal commitments as allies and advocates and support events that create greater collaboration within communities for equity and racial justice.
- Investing in Education
In 2020, 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. 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.
Credits CountSM, the signature program of the AEP Foundation, addresses the issues of college preparedness and affordability for underserved urban and rural students who seek to explore STEM careers and gain college credit toward a professional credential or an associate’s degree while still in high school. The Credits CountSM program, funded by the AEP Foundation in partnership with local community colleges and public school districts, operates in all seven AEP operating companies.
Since the program’s creation in 2014, the AEP Foundation has committed nearly $16.7 million to the program across our service territory. The program supports students through college readiness testing, middle school STEM exploration opportunities, summer and in-school support to enhance science, math and language proficiency; tuition and materials, as well as earned credits toward college and college scholarship awards for those who continue in a degree or credentialed field of study. We recently renewed our program partnership with Columbus State Community College for another five years and will evaluate future funding with our other current partners.
- Nine Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters in eastern Oklahoma are receiving a share of a $25,000 grant after being named recipients of this year’s AEP Foundation FFA STEM After-School grants. These grants go to programs that help advance agricultural education, foster innovation and inspire success. The AEP Foundation recently announced a $200,000 grant to fund the grant program for another five years.
- The AEP Foundation awarded the West Liberty University Foundation with a $25,000 grant to assist in its distance-learning project. This project will greatly advance the school’s ability to provide distance-learning opportunities for students and recruit faculty from a larger talent pool. Distance learning is critical due to the pandemic and the necessity of remote instruction.
- In January 2020, the AEP Foundation donated $100,000 to the Texarkana College Betty and Buddy Ludwell Workforce Training Center. The funding will support the purchase of advanced manufacturing training equipment to train students in electrical technology, instrumentation and industrial technology programs. Students trained on the new equipment will develop applied skills for equipment that was previously taught in theory.
- AEP supported hands-on STEM education for elementary through high school students with a total of $197,750 in FIRST robotics grants to 152 teams in 10 states. FIRST is a global organization inspiring students to be science and technology leaders through robotics competitions at various grade levels.
- Supporting Basic Human Needs
Community organizations play a pivotal role in enhancing the well-being of their citizens as well as the social fabric of their communities. These organizations provide assistance for housing, food, education, skills training and more. Community organizations help bridge the gap between the potential of an individual to be independent and the obstacles to success that person might face. In 2020, through corporate giving and the AEP Foundation, we contributed nearly $5.5 million toward hunger, housing and food insecurity.
- In December 2020, Appalachian Power donated $50,000 to food banks across West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. The donations helped 16 local food banks and feeding centers provide food during the high-use winter season.
- The AEP Foundation provided relief to Appalachian Power’s service area early in the pandemic through the donation of $288,000 to food pantries and similar organizations, $73,000 to create free Wi-Fi hotspots at schools and community centers, and $120,000 to United Way organizations to provide facemasks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff, volunteers and clients.
- As part of a $375,000 five-year pledge to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma’s Rural Produce Program, the AEP Foundation on behalf of Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), gave $75,000 in 2020 to help provide fresh produce to customers living in rural areas.
- After the restoration efforts of Hurricane Laura, utility crew base camps were demobilized leaving excess food behind. SWEPCO sent truckloads of frozen foods and dry goods from these camps to help restock depleted food supplies at the Natchitoches Parish Schools and the First United Pentecostal Church. SWEPCO made additional donations to Northwest Louisiana food banks and a Central Louisiana sheriff’s office after Hurricane Delta.
- In central Ohio, the Mid-Ohio Food Collective provides about 140,000 meals every day to help stabilize families, connect hungry neighbors with community services and work with communities to address the root causes of hunger. The COVID pandemic led to a 30% increase of people using their services for the first time. In 2020, the AEP Foundation made grants to the Collective totaling more than $1.2 million, including a $100,000 grant for emergency COVID relief. Additionally, the Foundation has committed $3 million to the agency’s three-year Campaign to Re-Imagine Ending Hunger.