Giving back to our communities is fundamental to our 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 we serve – as an energy provider and a system of community support. In 2018, AEP and the American Electric Power Foundation donated approximately $25.5 million to support more than 1,800 community organizations. Since 2016, we have donated more than $63 million through our philanthropic giving efforts.
For more information, see AEP’s Community Impact Report.
Investing in Education
A significant focus of our corporate giving is on education, especially STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, and basic human needs, such as hunger and housing. Complementing the focus on education is a commitment to work 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.
AEP’s most significant area of philanthropic giving is STEM 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 want to seek STEM-related career opportunities. Since the program’s creation in 2014, the AEP Foundation has committed $14.2 million to the program across our service territory.
The Credits Count program, funded by the AEP Foundation and carried out in partnership with local community colleges and public school districts, now operates in all seven AEP operating companies:
- AEP Ohio - Columbus State Community College and Columbus City Schools, launched in 2014
- AEP Texas - Laredo Community College and Laredo Independent School District, launched in 2017
- Appalachian Power – BridgeValley Community & Technical College and Kanawha County Schools, launched in 2017
- Indiana Michigan Power – IVY Tech and Marion Community Schools, launched in 2016
- Kentucky Power – Ashland Community and Technical College and Lawrence County Schools, launched in 2015
- PSO – Tulsa Community College and Tulsa Public Schools, launched in 2015
- SWEPCO – Bossier Parish Community College and Bossier Parish and Caddo Parish school districts, launched in 2014
In conjunction with state and higher education institutions, AEP Transmission launched the AEP Opportunities iN Energy (ONE) career-readiness program in 2018. The program offers high school students a 10-week internship and mentorship. Interns participating in AEP’s ONE program can earn the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal from the State of Ohio, a formal designation on their high school diploma and transcript indicating that they have the personal strengths, strong work ethic and professional experience that businesses need. Students who complete the program and their technical degree will be qualified to apply for permanent positions with AEP and other energy companies. 2018 marked the pilot year in central Ohio. In the future, we hope to expand the program to other areas and business units.
Having a strong higher education system directly supports economic development and growth of the local economy. In West Virginia, this is especially important in the wake of coal plant retirements and coal mine closures in the state. In 2018, the AEP Foundation awarded West Virginia State University (WVSU) a $250,000 grant to equip laboratories in its new chemical engineering program. West Liberty University (WLU) also received a $25,000 grant from the AEP Foundation for its STEM lab, which serves more than 200 students per semester in courses such as physiology, histology and anatomy.
The Energizing STEM Initiative – a partnership between The Education Alliance and Imagine Learning – received a $450,000 grant from the AEP Foundation to help young students in West Virginia build a strong foundation in math. The grant provides more than 2,200 elementary students in Lincoln and Logan counties with an effective computer-based supplemental curriculum to improve math outcomes over a three-year period. West Virginia is projected to have over 25,000 jobs in STEM-related fields in the next several years, and this initiative helps ensure students are ready with the knowledge and skills they will need.
More than 1,000 students from Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Nevada and Sevier counties in southwest Arkansas attended Explore Success, a youth manufacturing conference intended to introduce career opportunities in manufacturing in the region. SWEPCO and our John W. Turk, Jr., Power Plant supported the event. This conference is another example of our commitment to investing in and educating students at a young age about future career opportunities with our local industries, which is key to maintaining the region’s vitality.
In 2018, the AEP Foundation awarded Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana (JANI) a $300,000 grant for a new facility to provide localized career development programs and an entrepreneurial center that can meet the needs of a younger, savvier generation of entrepreneurs. During the 2017-18 school year, JANI reached more than 142,000 students in 30 counties and has the greatest market share of any Junior Achievement chapter in the nation.
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. 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.
Being a good neighbor means helping others in need:
- In 2018, SWEPCO responded to two local Arkansas fire departments in need of equipment and land to bolster their public safety services. We provided a decommissioned truck from AEP’s fleet to the Gillham volunteer fire department. The fire station needed the truck to help extinguish wildland fires that larger firefighting equipment cannot easily reach. In Gentry, SWEPCO donated land near the Flint Creek Power Plant for a new fire department helipad. The donation gives the fire department a safe and readily accessible landing and loading location for air ambulances.
- In 2018, Mountain Mission School, a century-old southwest Virginia resident school for children in need, received a $1 million grant from the AEP Foundation. The boys’ residence was damaged by a fire in April 2018, and its more than 100 disadvantaged young men were being temporarily housed in the school gymnasium and chapel while the school was being refurbished. The AEP Foundation’s grant allowed the school to substantially upgrade the residence hall.
- Pelotonia is a bike ride in Ohio that raises funds for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. The AEP Foundation is a major funding partner with Pelotonia and announced in 2018 that its donations will double to $500,000 a year for three years. Because of the AEP Foundation’s increased contributions, Pelotonia will be able to magnify its impact in raising funds for research to end cancer.
- The Rescue Mission is a nonprofit organization that provides restorative care to those facing homelessness in Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, and their nine surrounding counties. The AEP Foundation awarded a $300,000 grant to its City on a Hill campaign to help the organization relocate to a larger facility and expand its women’s and children’s ministry. AEP supports the Rescue Mission with additional donations, including a $50,000 AEP Foundation grant for the mission’s Learning Center and volunteer work provided by Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) employees.