AEP Sustainability - Community Impact

Community

Giving back to our communities is fundamental to our vision of powering a new and brighter future. Through volunteerism and corporate giving, AEP proudly supports the vibrancy and resilience of the communities we serve – as an energy provider and a system of community support. In 2019, AEP and the American Electric Power Foundation donated nearly $30 million to support more than 1,800 community organizations.

We focus our corporate giving on education, especially STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, and basic human needs, such as the elimination of hunger, emergency shelter and affordable housing. We are committed to working with the public and private sectors to help those students and their families gain access to nutritious food and a secure, safe place to live. We also support many cultural and community initiatives important to our customers.

The need to support our local communities was never more prevalent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the AEP Foundation committed to donating $3 million in emergency funds to support basic human needs and address the hardships faced by customers and communities. Grants have been made to nonprofit organizations across the AEP service area. We recognized the importance of providing our local communities with these additional funds to support their efforts in providing food and shelter to families in need.

AEP’s most significant area of philanthropic giving is STEM education, with programs ranging from pre-kindergarten through higher education. 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 Count program, funded by the AEP Foundation in partnership with local community colleges and public school districts, now operates in all seven AEP operating companies. Since the program’s creation in 2014, the AEP Foundation has committed more than $14 million across our service territory. It has reached more than 56,000 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.

Youmna Yasser (on the left), a 2018 graduate from Whetstone High School (Columbus, OH).

Credits Count Student Success

“The AEP Credits Count Program helped accelerate my education and gave me a huge advantage that I am thankful for now more than ever.”

Christopher Gardner, a 2018 graduate of both Northwood High School and Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Louisiana. He earned 42 BPCC college credits—all of which transferred to Louisiana Tech University, where he enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program.

“Credits Count gave me confidence to take college classes.”

Youmna Yasser graduated from Whetstone High School (Columbus, OH) in 2018 with 21 college credits from Columbus State Community College. She plans to study Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University.

A $450,000 grant from the AEP Foundation targeted two county school systems in rural West Virginia with a comprehensive STEM learning program and outreach plan to engage families. One element was a computer-based supplemental math curriculum provided to all elementary students in Lincoln and Logan counties. Over the first two years of the program, the number of Logan County students scoring at the “proficient” math performance level increased by 18%, and the number of Lincoln County students scoring at the “far below basic” math performance level decreased by 21%.

Gathering Place is a nearly 100-acre waterfront park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, designed to be a welcoming, natural space where a diverse community can come together to explore, learn and play. In 2019, the AEP Foundation provided a five-year, $1.25 million grant to provide resources for field trip programs at Gathering Place. Each school year, more than 15,000 students will participate in experiential learning through this grant. The funding supports curriculum that is dedicated primarily for students in low-income communities and Title I schools.

In 2019, The AEP Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to the Power and Energy Center (PEC) at The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at Virginia Tech. PEC is important because of its dedicated work in the engineering field of electric power systems. The power industry in the U.S. is undergoing an unprecedented transformation to integrate distributed energy resources, including renewable energy, microgrids and advanced technologies. This grant helps advance technology for the future power grid while developing the next generation of power engineers.

Additional Educational Investments

  • The AEP Foundation awarded Texas A&M University – Kingsville’s Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering a $100,000 grant in 2019 to enhance and expand instructional and research laboratory facilities.
  • In 2019, the AEP Foundation awarded the Potawatomi Zoological Society in South Bend, Indiana a $216,000 grant to provide camps, classes and scout activities to students.
  • A $100,000 grant to Northwest Arkansas Community College for their Improving Lives and Community Landscapes through Skilled Trades’ Workforce Training, Safety, Resources, and Placement program. The program creates opportunities for safe, well-trained workers to enter skilled trades in the state and beyond.
  • Virginia ED Strategies received a $25,000 grant to fund the Rural Math Innovation Network, which will help prepare 4,500 rural Virginia students for STEM careers, including increasing success on college and career math readiness tests and reducing achievement gaps among rural students.

Community organizations play a pivotal role in the well-being of individual community members as well as the social fabric of the community. These organizations provide assistance for housing, food, education, skills training and more. Investing in the resources of community organizations helps to bridge the gap between the potential of an individual to be independent and the obstacles to success that person might face. When we elevate and invest in our communities, we are helping to build a brighter future.

For example, the AEP Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to Foster Angels of South Texas. Foster Angels meets the needs of foster children in emergency housing when traditional resources have been exhausted. The organization provides support through educational assistance, help acquiring adoption certificates, transportation and food.

In 2019, Appalachian Power provided $50,000 to food banks across West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. In addition, the AEP Foundation provided a $25,000 grant to the Mountaineer Food Bank for its program providing fresh fruits and vegetables throughout southern West Virginia, along with a $15,000 grant to Kanawha Valley Senior Services in West Virginia to support its meal delivery program.