By Tracy Warner—
2020 Grants Include $750,000+ for Pandemic Relief
Fort Wayne, IN – Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) demonstrated its commitment to the people and communities it serves by donating $1.4 million in support of charitable non-profits and economic development initiatives in 2020. In addition, the American Electric Power Foundation awarded more than $2.7 million to area non-profits on behalf of I&M.
“Indiana Michigan Power, along with the AEP Foundation, is proud to have donated more than $4 million in 2020 to improve the lives of our customers and communities we serve in Indiana and Michigan,” said Toby Thomas, I&M president and chief operating officer. “I&M’s commitment to helping was even more critical in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the lives and livelihoods of our customers.”
Assistance from I&M, an operating company of American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP), went to more than 200 agencies in multiple communities across its service territory, including Muncie, Marion, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Elkhart and Benton Harbor. Support also went to agencies in Rockport, Ind., and Bridgman, Mich., where I&M has generation facilities. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the lives and livelihoods of our customers and communities, the AEP Foundation gifts included more than $750,000 for food banks and social service agencies to assist the citizens they serve.
Despite the pandemic, I&M continued its long-tradition of helping agencies in other ways, in some cases adapting to achieve to serve the citizens of our communities while safely maintaining physical distancing and communicating virtually. For example, I&M adapted Energy Efficiency programs to provide more than 8,000 energy-saving LED bulbs for social service agencies to distribute in the two states and added reusable face coverings and hand sanitizer to 750 home energy kits sent to Michigan customers.
Here are highlights of some of the many ways I&M contributed to our communities in 2020:
In East Central Indiana:
• An AEP Foundation grant empowered the Muncie Mission to buy the first new box truck in its history in early 2020, just before the pandemic forced numerous closings. Throughout the year, the truck helped the mission feed 300-plus people per day.
• In Muncie, I&M convened a partnership with Ivy Tech, the NAACP and Forward Vision to provide scholarship funding that allowed a minority student to return to full-time status, and complete their degree.
• A regional healthcare coalition purchased PPE for healthcare workers and first responders across the Muncie/Marion district with a grant from the AEP Foundation on behalf of I&M. Another AEP Foundation grant helped the Marion Boys & Girls Club purchase PPE and materials to safely reopen.
• I&M was the presenting sponsor of Meridian Health Service’s Holiday’s at the Gresham, a physically distanced drive-thru light display that raised funds for their Child Advocacy Center.
In Northeast Indiana:
• I&M presented an AEP Foundation grant to the healthcare agency Visiting Nurse to better reach patients served in 11 counties by expanding telehealth capabilities and communication tools.
• The AEP Foundation also awarded a significant grant to Fort Wayne-based Community Harvest Food Bank to help meet nutrition needs during the pandemic.
• I&M was the presenting sponsor for the Future City Regional Competition hosted by Purdue Fort Wayne. The event engages middle school students in using math and science concepts for real-world issues, and helps them learn how to research and propose solutions to engineering challenges. Norwell High School won the regional event and went on to capture the nationwide 2020 championship.
• I&M supported the Embassy Theatre’s annual Festival of Trees by sponsoring four live fir trees which were decorated by local nonprofits. When the festival ended, the trees were donated to Fort Wayne Trails and planted at a trailhead on the north side of Fort Wayne.
In North Central Indiana:
• I&M partnered with ETHOS and the Elkhart Education Foundation to provide funds to offset the enrollment fees for EdCamp, which provides a safe, productive learning environment to support e-learning and enrichment classes in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM).
• I&M sponsored the YWCA North Central Indiana’s Tribute Live Broadcast Auction to help support and improve the lives of vulnerable women and children.
• Donations from I&M to the Salvation Army Kroc Center provided coats, boots, hats and gloves to area children.
• The AEP Foundation awarded a grant to Food Bank of Northern Indiana to provide food to those in need during the pandemic.
In Southwest Michigan:
• I&M sponsored the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor’s annual fundraiser to help provide programs that improve educational readiness and achievement.
• I&M donated funds to Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency Stuff-A-Truck event. The donation was used to purchase PPE and food for income-qualified seniors and vulnerable families.
• Helping Hands of Cass County, with a donation from I&M, purchased perishable and non-perishable food items as well as personal hygiene items for community members in need.
• I&M contributed to Red Bud Area Ministries to provide food, toiletries and cleaning products to those in need.
“We look forward to a brighter 2021,” Thomas said. “We have hope that our employees will be able to safely resume their robust volunteer activities alongside our customers, helping make communities stronger while keeping the lights on, enhancing our infrastructure and providing new technology to empower our customers.”