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In 2022, Essential’s charitable giving to 501(c)(3) organizations totaled $3.9 million, supporting the mission work of more than 400 nonprofits.
Our philanthropic efforts are led by the Essential Foundation, which seeks to enhance the quality of life for our customers by engaging in collaborations that result in measurable success for the communities we serve and support the mission, vision and values of Essential Utilities.
Primary areas of giving include environmental initiatives, direct human services, emergency services, community economic growth, education, and employee support, including our matching gift program. A particular focus is given to projects that help a diverse customer base and further goals of equity and inclusion.
Employee Giving Campaign
Essential invites all its employees to take advantage of a gift-matching program. Essential matches 100%, up to a maximum of $500 per calendar year per employee, for personal contributions made by an employee or their spouse or domestic partner to qualifying nonprofit organizations.
For more than two decades, Essential’s partnership with the United Way has instilled a culture of giving among team members. Through its annual workplace giving campaigns, Essential builds collective impact while encouraging employees to donate in a way that is meaningful to them. Each year, Essential team members give to a variety of initiatives, including health and human services, education, housing and hunger relief, the environment and animal welfare. Each dollar raised through the United Way campaigns is matched by the Essential Foundation to maximize impact for each nonprofit.
During Essential’s 2022-2023 campaign, United for Our Communities, more than 1,860 employees pledged $362,985 to support nearly 500 community organizations across the company’s footprint. From 2020-2022, Essential and its employees raised more than $2.3 million through these campaigns and the company’s match.
Eat, Drink, Help
Since 2016, Essential Utilities, through our gas operations, has organized a dynamic and innovative program called Eat, Drink, Help to engage local businesses and support the community. Through this program, we partner with a local business and let that business choose a local charity to receive a donation from Essential for every customer purchase. By directly pairing up local businesses with local charities, our Eat, Drink, Help Program supports neighborhood small businesses, empowers charities and helps to build stronger communities. Over the years, dozens of businesses have been able to pay it forward to more local charities of their choosing. This type of personal, “local to local” partnership gives us a chance to get to know the businesses that make our neighborhood so special.
We recognize that volunteer service can be as meaningful to our employees as it is to the community organizations we serve. As a mission-based organization, volunteerism allows us to expand corporate social responsibility activities by enabling employees to attend company- sponsored volunteer events at local community organizations. It is an opportunity for employees from different sectors of the company to engage with one another and encourage conversation and dialogue. The ripple effect of volunteerism within our culture cultivates and encourages collaboration and teamwork and fosters an environment where employees feel inspired to play an integral role in making a positive impact in their region. Essential’s paid volunteer time supports food banks, shelters, environmental projects, youth mentoring programs, health-based initiatives and critical resources for low-income families. Employees report volunteer hours for tracking purposes throughout the organization.
In 2022, hundreds of Essential employees across corporate, water, wastewater and gas operations tracked more than 3,850 hours of paid volunteer time. Our employees came together to volunteer their time on a number of projects impacting their local communities.
We packed 2,500+ backpacks with school supplies for children in need, outfitted low- income individuals with warm clothes for winter, fed 3,000 families by supporting local food banks, collected vital items for refugee families, mentored dozens of students through our partnerships with schools and nonprofits, built infrastructure in developing countries through humanitarian programs and much more!
Essential Earth Day
In 2022, out of our deep commitment to natural resources, we created Essential Earth Day to support environmental initiatives and engage our employees in the effort. Throughout April, Essential team members participated in dozens of volunteer events across our footprint in partnership with local environmental organizations. The activities included cleaning up litter from streams, planting trees and gardens, marking storm drains and enhancing outdoor recreation sites.
In its first year, Essential Earth Day saw close to 400 volunteers participate to clean up more than 150 bags of litter and plant more than 1,000 trees and other greenery in our communities. In addition to volunteering, hundreds of team members attended educational presentations to learn about environmental topics and how to live more sustainably. Additionally, the Essential Foundation announced more than $500,000 in nonprofit grants for environmental causes.
Essential Earth Day has easily become a favorite for our team and our community partners, so we have made this an annual celebration with the goal of growing our impact each year.
Partnership with Villanova University
Since 2016, Essential Utilities, through our water and wastewater operations, has proudly partnered with Villanova University’s Center for Humanitarian Engineering and International Development. Essential employees have joined Villanova students to provide expertise, resources and hands-on support in international projects to address water supply issues in developing nations across South America and Africa. In 2019, the partnership-driven team traveled to Wacuco, Panama, in 2019 to work on several projects, including water quality testing, rehabbing water tanks and upgrading a steel bridge in the community. Although COVID-19 disrupted plans in 2020 to perform service work in Ghana, coordination between Essential and Villanova on other elements of the project continued weekly.
In 2022, Essential and Villanova organized a trip to Madagascar, and the partnership seeks further opportunities to take part in projects abroad. Water security and safe access are very personal issues for our team and critical for every human being. We are proud to support communities both inside and outside our operational footprint while supporting the next generation of engineers and scientists.