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10/16/2014 12:00 AM

Exelon focuses its charitable giving on groups and projects relating to education, arts and culture, neighborhood development and the environment.

OVERVIEW

Exelon is one of the country’s leading energy providers, with more than 35,000 megawatts of owned capacity comprising one of the nation’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets. The company’s Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to about 100,000 business and public-sector customers and more than 1 million residential customers. Meanwhile, its subsidiary utilities deliver electricity and natural gas to more than 7.8 million customers in central Maryland through Baltimore Gas and Electric; northern Illinois through ComEd; and southeastern Pennsylvania through PECO. In 2013, Exelon reported sales of about $24.9 billion and employed roughly 25,900 workers.

GIVING

Exelon’s charitable giving is focused on efforts to enhance the quality of life in the many communities served by its generating stations. The company provides a mix of cash grants, employee volunteerism and in-kind donations for energy assistance programs to a host of nonprofit groups and projects in its communities.

The company’s core giving areas include:

  • Education. The company supports programs that encourage students to stay in school and develop their full potential; promote math and science; improve workforce skills; and encourage personal development through scholarships, mentoring and internships.
  • Environment. Support in this area goes to programs that improve the health of the local environment; promote environmental education, conservation and preservation; develop cleaner sources of energy; protect endangered species; and beautify neighborhoods in communities served by the company.
  • Arts and culture. The company provides cash support to cultural institutions with broad public exposure and programs designed to make arts and culture more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Neighborhood development. Exelon supports a wide range of community and neighborhood development groups—from health and human services providers to after-school programming. It contributes to many of these organizations through the Exelon Employee United Way Campaign—which combined employee contributions and company matches—but it also makes a limited amount of grants directly to local nonprofit organizations.

Some examples of the company’s recent charitable support include:

  • Stay in School. The ComEd and Exelon-United Way Stay in School Initiative provides valuable after-school programming to help middle school and high school students with the support they need to advance to the next grade level and graduate. In addition to yielding higher graduation rates, Stay in School improves students’ grades, attendance rates and prosocial behaviors.
  • The Illinois Holocaust Museum. With support from Exelon, the Illinois Holocaust Museum launched its Anti-Bullying Initiative, which encompasses existing museum anti-bullying programming, as well as new opportunities for education and partnerships. The Illinois Holocaust Museum uses a focused approach to address this issue and educate young people, capitalizing on its distinctive public space and historical lens, Exelon says.
  • The Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy. Building on Exelon’s existing education initiatives, the company, the Rowe Family Charitable Trust, and Frank and Vera Clark contributed $4.2 million to open the Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy charter school in 2007. Operated by Noble Network of Charter Schools and located in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, the school currently serves more than 600 students in grades 9 through 12. In June 2010, the first class of seniors graduated with 100 percent of the class accepted into college. In the years since, the campus has graduated more than 300 students. Exelon provides summer internship opportunities for students to receive meaningful work experience and gain a broader understanding of potential careers in the energy industry.
  • Fishing for a Cure. Since 2002, Exelon’s Braidwood Generating Station has hosted its Fishing for a Cure fundraising event. Each year, Braidwood employees choose a different charity to benefit from the event. In May 2011, in a fitting celebration of Armed Services Day, the tournament raised a record $38,000 for the Wounded Heroes Foundation. Since its beginning, Fishing for a Cure has raised more than $200,000 for charity.
  • The University of Delaware. Exelon donated $500,000 to the University of Delaware to create an on-campus simulated trading floor. The program allows university students to get real-world training in the field of energy trading without leaving campus.
  • The Wharton Energy Conference. Since 2005, Exelon has been a lead sponsor of the Wharton Energy Conference, an annual event sponsored by the Wharton Energy Club, an independent, student-run organization at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The event brings together more than 200 energy industry thought leaders and business school students for a meaningful discussion about the future of energy each year.
  • Electrical safety. Exelon distributes brochures containing details about emergency warning systems, evacuation routes and other safety issues to residents living near each of its nuclear generating stations. The company also holds Community Information Nights for local residents and sponsors a variety of other energy-related safety workshops in its local communities.

The company also offers several programs that encourage and reward the charitable endeavors of its employees. In 2013, more than 3,700 employees served more than 96,000 hours as volunteers at various organizations in Exelon service areas.

Exelon’s employee volunteer engagement program is called Energy for the Community. This program is designed to help employees practice the company’s community service values through volunteerism. Employees can easily find and sign up for service projects in their area of interest or near where they live.

The company encourages volunteerism among its employees throughout National Volunteer Week, an annual, nationwide observance of individuals’ and organizations’ contributions to their communities. The company’s 2013 National Volunteer Week program empowered employee volunteers to design their own service projects and recruit colleagues. Employees from every Exelon operating company participated in more than 160 community service projects, choosing to concentrate on environmental projects that support the company’s carbon-reduction strategy and goals and opportunities to support the company’s diversity-related initiatives.

The company also provides grants to the nonprofit organizations supported by its employees through a Dollars for Doers program.

In addition, Exelon’s senior management team and other employees serve on the boards of more than 500 nonprofit organizations throughout the Chicago and Philadelphia areas. And Exelon employees pledge millions of dollars annually through the company’s annual United Way workplace giving campaign.

The company shines a spotlight on the philanthropic commitments of its employees through the Energy for the Community Employee Volunteer Awards, which rewards Exelon employees for outstanding dedication and commitment to community service. Exelon provides a total of $140,000 in grants to 18 organizations each year to honor employees who have demonstrated exceptional community service by volunteering at least 50 hours with a nonprofit charitable partner over the course of a year. The winners are announced and honored during a special celebration during National Volunteer Week.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

Best Practices
9/26/2014 12:00 AM

Doing a materiality assessment can help companies identify which areas and social issues to focus philanthropic resources on.

For some companies, choosing where to focus their philanthropic investments can be a challenge. Some industries have it easier than others in this regard, as evidenced by the comparably high giving budgets (especially for in-kind donations) of pharmaceutical firms, computer hardware and software companies, financial services firms and others whose products and services are easily leveraged on behalf of charitable groups and social causes.

For companies whose products aren’t directly tied to a specific and obvious social cause, there is an exercise that can help evaluate various options and identify which areas and issues fit best. The concept of materiality originates from the world of financial accounting and refers to the kinds of information that companies should include in financial statements to ensure that investors and other stakeholders have all of the truly relevant information they need to make informed decisions. In the world of corporate social responsibility, the concept has been adapted to include all of the vital information about a company’s performance and impact on society—at all levels—so that management, investors and stakeholders can make similarly informed decisions.

“By soliciting input from internal and external stakeholders, a materiality exercise can assist a company not only in finding the basis from which to develop their corporate citizenship program, but also to ensure they will receive the support of those individuals who matter most to the company,” said Elizabeth Rogers of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.

In a blog post on the subject, Rogers cited the work of CSR consulting group AccountAbility, which argues that if companies want to remain competitive, they need to develop new approaches and processes for determining materiality that include the ability to:

  • Discern which issues are most material to the company, its stakeholders, industry and the wider operating environment.
  • Develop appropriate mechanisms and processes that enable continual learning and assessment of material priorities, and how performance improvements can occur.
  • Manage materiality, based on these insights, in ways that anchor sustainability issues at the heart of a company’s operating system.

In the group’s 2012 report, Redefining Materiality II: Why It Matters, Who’s Involved and What It Means for Corporate Leaders and Boards, AccountAbility identified a framework for determining materiality that includes two main components:

  • Issue identification. According to the group, companies must identify the widest possible selection of environmental, social and economic issues that are or might be relevant to the business and to its stakeholders by doing the following:
    • Identify a long list of issues relevant to direct short-term financial performance, ability to deliver on strategy and policies, best practice norms exhibited by peers, stakeholder behavior and concerns, and societal norms.
    • Enable all significant stakeholders’ viewpoints to feed into the analysis.
    • Draw on internal and external sources of information.
  • Issue prioritization. This next step, AccountAbility says, is needed in order to sift out the issues according to how significant they are to the company and its stakeholders. Specifically, companies need to:
    • Choose internal and external criteria to identify those issues relevant to drivers of business strategy and performances, and those issues that are most important to the stakeholders.
    • Decide on thresholds on the internal and external axis to determine materiality. This may be a simple division into material/not material categories or it could be more sophisticated, indicating a scale of levels of materiality, the group says.

By going through these exercises—identifying the material information about the company and its interplay and impact on society—firms will likely find the most significant social issues that they have a hand in and can play a role in addressing, and revise their philanthropic strategies accordingly.

For more information, visit the group’s website at www.accountability.org.

9/23/2014 12:00 AM

The Allstate Foundation supports charitable groups focused on teen safety, economic empowerment and literacy, domestic violence, diversity, and disaster response.

OVERVIEW

Known for its “You’re in good hands” slogan, Allstate is the nation’s second-largest personal lines insurer, protecting approximately 16 million households through its various subsidiaries. The company offers homeowners and property/casualty insurance, as well as auto coverage, through its flagship Allstate Protection and Esurance segments, and life insurance through its Allstate Life and American Heritage Life brands. The company also sells annuities and other investment products through its Allstate Financial subsidiary. In 2013, the company reported sales of about $34.5 billion and employed about 39,400 workers.

GIVING

Allstate conducts its philanthropy primarily through the Allstate Foundation, which supports a range of charitable groups and programs at the national, state and local levels. Key giving areas for the foundation are as follows:

  • Teen Safe Driving. The foundation supports numerous programs aimed at saving young lives and instilling safe driving attitudes and behaviors. The Teen Safe Driving program includes the following components:
    • Keep the Drive, a national teen-led smart driving movement that educates teens about the issues, impacts the way they think and act in the car, and empowers them to become smart driving activists in their schools and communities.
    • Community outreach to surround teens with smart driving messages and involve key teen influencers, including parents, in reinforcing smart driving behaviors.
    • Leadership and advocacy education to advance public understanding of this issue and inform public policy decision-makers about the value and importance of graduated driver licensing laws on the state and national levels.
    • Public awareness to elevate teen driving as a chronic public health issue through targeted social marketing and public relations campaigns.
  • Economic empowerment. The foundation seeks to empower Americans with the economic resources and knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their financial future. The foundation’s funding priorities in this area are:
    • Domestic violence. In 2005, the foundation joined with the National Network to End Domestic Violence to bring financial education, matched savings programs, job readiness and job training, and microenterprise opportunities to survivors of domestic violence.
    • Financial and economic literacy. The foundation supports various programs focused on helping Americans build a more secure financial future.
  • Inclusion and diversity. The foundation supports programs that bring tolerance, inclusion and value to people of all backgrounds regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age or physical challenges. This includes fostering a generation free of bias and intolerance through youth education programs and supporting other efforts to encourage communities to be free of prejudice and discrimination.
  • Disaster response. The foundation supports various efforts to rebuild lives after a natural disaster strikes. The most recent example of this is the $1 million Good Hands Fund, which the foundation established to assist local nonprofit organizations with their recovery from Superstorm Sandy and meet the increased need for services. In addition, the foundation matches dollar-for-dollar employee and agency owner donations of up to $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund through the company’s annual Employee Giving Campaign.

Additionally, the foundation offers several grant programs to support charitable organizations where Allstate employees, agency owners and personal financial representatives volunteer. These include:

  • Helping Hands Grants and Allstate Agency Hands in the Community Grants. Through these programs, the foundation awards $500 and $1,000 grants, respectively, to nonprofit organizations where Allstate employees, agency owners and financial representatives volunteer.
  • Matching Gifts for Higher Education. Through this program, the foundation doubles the personal contributions that Allstate employees, agency owners and personal financial representatives make to eligible institutions of higher education, up to $5,000 per year. Funds are directed toward the school’s general scholarship fund.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

News Briefs
10/14/2014 12:00 AM

The GE Foundation has pledged $20 million for programs aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health in Africa.

The GE Foundation has pledged $20 million to advance health care in Africa through the extension of programs focused on the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5: to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health, respectively. The foundation’s Developing Health Globally program is already working with hospitals and health centers in Africa, providing training and mentoring for practitioners and clinicians, as well as the necessary equipment needed by maternity, labor and delivery, and postpartum units of district hospitals. With this new five-year commitment, the foundation said it will continue working with its partners to develop and extend programs that test innovative, simple solutions and technologies for low-resource settings.

News Briefs
10/2/2014 12:00 AM

Toyota Motor North America has pledged $1 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of a “grand bargain” to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy.

Toyota Motor North America has pledged $1 million toward the Detroit Institute of Arts’ commitment to raise $100 million as part of a “grand bargain” that will help the city of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, support city pensioners and protect the museum’s art collection for the public. According to the DIA, the “grand bargain” will provide Detroit’s pensioners more than $800 million from the DIA, local and national foundations and the state of Michigan over a 20-year period. The funds will be directed to a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and then disbursed for city pension payments over the next 20 years. As part of the agreement, the city of Detroit will transfer ownership of the DIA’s art collection, building and related assets to the private nonprofit corporation that currently operates the museum, Detroit Institute of Arts Inc.

News Briefs
9/22/2014 12:00 AM

Costco Wholesale Corp. has pledged $10 million to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to support health care for children in Southern California.

Costco Wholesale Corp. has pledged $10 million to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in support of the hospital’s mission of delivering high-quality patient care to children in Southern California. Since 1983, Costco has donated more than $16 million to CHLA. Costco club members contribute at the registers each May as part of the company’s monthlong fundraising campaign; Costco employees volunteer their time to lead such efforts and engage the members; Costco business partners fundraise for the hospital at various charity events; and the corporation matches all the gifts raised by each of these activities. The latest commitment will support CHLA’s Children’s Fund, which is dedicated to the hospital’s research and clinical care programs.

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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King
    Editor

    Nicholas King has served as editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report since 2007, and he continues to be impressed with the philanthropic efforts of the nation’s business sector.

    Drawing on an educational background in English and environmental policy, Nicholas began his journalism career in 2000 when he was brought on as editor of Environmental Laboratory Washington Report, a niche-market subscription-based newsletter serving the environmental testing industry. After seven years of honing his craft, Nicholas expanded his writing/editing portfolio to an entirely new field of interest - corporate philanthropy. As editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report, he stays abreast of the latest developments affecting corporate giving—and the charitable/nonprofit sector more broadly—providing his readers the “need to know” information vital for making the best use of their limited charitable dollars.

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