Corporate philanthropy is one way we support our local communities. Another is through our work force, many of whom selflessly serve on local boards and commissions, coach Little League teams, lead Parent-Teacher Associations or volunteer at local homeless shelters and food banks.
Nearly 315 Appalachian Power employees and retirees fanned out across three states to read to schoolchildren on Read to Me Day 2013.
In 2014, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union (IBEW), Local 1466 United Way Campaign, a partnership between AEP, AEP Ohio, the IBEW and our retirees, raised more than $1.53 million to help those in need in Central Ohio in 2014. AEP Chairman Nick Akins and his wife, Donna, chaired the 2014 community-wide campaign. The community campaign featured an annual Community Care Day, where more than 100 employees volunteered their time and labor to support local schools and non-profit organizations.
This campaign gives central Ohio residents pathways out of poverty. The AEP-IBEW Local 1466 campaign has been recognized several times for their active and sustained engagement.
United Way of Central Ohio is one of the largest United Ways in the country, bringing together more than 80,000 donors, advocates and volunteers to improve the lives of in areas of education, income, health and home.
Appalachian Power also took part in a similar effort through their United Way Day of Caring, lending a hand in local communities across Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.
The United Way of Northwest Louisiana recognized the IBEW Local 329 with its LIVE United Award in March 2015. They were recognized for their long-term commitment to the United Way. During its first campaign in 2004, employees from our Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCo) donated more than $18,500. In 2013, employee contributions rose to more than $39,000, a 210 percent increase over its first campaign, bringing the total contribution to United Way during the 11-year partnership to more than $308,000.
According to the pro-literacy organization Reading is Fundamental (RIF), nearly 40 percent of fourth grade public school students in America do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. Two-thirds of children living in poverty in this country have no books at home. Literacy, the ability to read and write, is essential to developing a sense of self-worth and to be productive citizens. There are proven links between literacy and poverty, according to the National Education Association. In Appalachia, where poverty is particularly severe, AEP’s Appalachian Power Company (APCo) is committed to changing lives by improving literacy.
Every year, APCo sponsors “Read To Me Day” where employees and retirees fan out across Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee to read to elementary school classes. In 2014, more than 300 volunteers visited classrooms where they reached a record of nearly 445 elementary schools. The company began its “Read to Me Day” program in West Virginia in 2001, expanding to Virginia and Tennessee in 2012. In addition to classroom visits, APCo has donated nearly 5,000 books to school libraries while employees and retirees have read aloud to nearly 200,000 students since the program began.
Another social issue with significant impact in our service territory is hunger. According to Feeding America, the country’s leading hunger relief organization, the number of people needing charitable assistance to access nutritious food for themselves and their families is growing at an alarming rate. Poverty, unemployment and income, along with other demographic factors, are key drivers of hunger. In its “Hunger in America 2014” report, Feeding America found that people are often forced to choose between buying food and paying for medicine, housing or utilities.
Due to the demographic make-up of AEP’s service territory, hunger is an important issue that impacts many of the communities we serve. Consequently, we are tackling hunger on several fronts. For example, we work with LifeCare Alliance’s (LCA) Meals-on-Wheels program. Approximately 100 AEP employees in Central Ohio deliver meals five days a week during their lunch hour as part of LCA’s Corporate Route program. LCA is a non-profit organization that provides health and nutrition services to the homes of aged and chronically ill individuals. AEP has participated in the Corporate Route program for 11 years.
AEP and the IBEW Local 1466 donated a record-breaking 675,000 meals to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank during our annual Operation Feed Campaign in 2014. This was a 15 percent increase from the 2013 record of 405,000 meals. The Mid-Ohio Foodbank works with grocers, food companies, Ohio farmers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and community partners to obtain and distribute food to more than 550 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs, and senior housing sites across central and eastern Ohio. AEP has participated in the Operation Feed Campaign since 1982.
Other community commitments made in 2014
- AEP Texas announced a three-year grant totaling $54,000 to help fund an initiative to revise and update the Wildlife in Focus Kritters 4 Kids wildlife education program. This initiative will help modernize the initial program to bring it into the digital age.
- A $150,000 AEP Foundation grant to Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County over the next three years will focus on deconstruction of vacant and abandoned homes in South Bend, Ind., through a job training program. Habitat will partner with Goodwill and other agencies to train individuals to serve on deconstruction teams. Salvaged items from the vacant homes will be sold through the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and material not fit for resale will be recycled. Funds from sales and recycling will be used to build future Habitat home builds and rehabs that revitalize neighborhoods.
- More than $62,500 was awarded through 175 AEP Teacher Vision Grants to pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educators across 10 states, including a $498 grant to Phelps Elementary School in Phelps, Ky., to enable students to design, edit and publish digital public service announcements about energy usage and conservation. Each year, grants ranging from $100 to $500 are awarded to support projects with an academic focus and a goal to improve student achievement.
- AEP employees helped coordinate and conduct 23 community service projects in Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia in October 2014 in conjunction with the Make a Difference Day nationwide initiative. In Anacoco, La., Southwestern Electric Power Company employees worked with the local Boy Scout chapter and community residents to build a flower bed and beautify the town park. Each year, AEP provides grants of up to $300 to projects involving at least five active or retired AEP employees in partnership with a local community group, non-profit or school to meet needs in education, the environment, health and safety, hunger and housing, youth or other basic community needs.