Two people carrying a solar panel for installation

Community Investments

As a business partner and community member, we start with the simple belief that we are better together. Throughout the year, PG&E and our employees strengthen the communities where we live and work—providing educational opportunities, protecting and conserving the environment, advancing emergency preparedness and supporting local economic vitality.

Our Approach

2015 Charitable Contributions
Category Percentage
Education 32%
Economic and Community Vitality 42%
Environment 17%
Emergency Preparedness 9%
The Civic 50 logo

For the fourth year in a row, Pacific Gas and Electric Company earned a spot on the Civic 50 as one of America’s most community-minded companies. The list highlighted the S&P 500 corporations that best use their time, talent and resources to improve the quality of life in the communities where they do business.

As part of our ongoing commitment to local communities, PG&E provides grants that support 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, schools and local governments across Northern and Central California every year. Our Better Together Giving Program focuses on four areas: education, economic and community vitality, the environment, and emergency preparedness.

In 2015, we provided more than 1,600 grants in these areas, with a special focus on supporting underserved communities. We also prioritize partnerships that provide volunteer opportunities for our employees, and often make in-kind contributions to organizations such as vehicle donations and surplus equipment and tools.

PG&E’s community investment program is funded entirely by shareholders and has no impact on our customers’ electric or natural gas rates.

PG&E also offers several ways for employees to direct the community investment process on a local level:

  • Our Community Service Award program allows employees who log more than 25 volunteer hours to direct $350 to the qualifying nonprofit organization of their choice.
  • Each of PG&E’s 10 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—representing PG&E’s diverse workforce—is given the opportunity to direct $10,000 to community groups and activities.
  • Our Matching Gifts Program enables PG&E to match eligible gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000 per calendar year per employee, retiree or current member of the PG&E Corporation Board of Directors.

2015 Milestones

Our Better Together Giving Program is making a difference in the lives of our customers and in the communities we serve. Here are highlights from our focus areas in 2015.

Education

Students and teachers in Kenya with solar suitcase

Students act locally, think globally with solar suitcases

Through PG&E’s Solar Suitcase program, several students and teachers delivered solar kits to communities in Kenya and taught them how to use them. Solar Suitcases are small, portable photovoltaic lighting systems, powerful enough to illuminate a small room.

To give the current and next generation of Californians more opportunities to learn and succeed, PG&E awards scholarships and grants to help further studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Highlights from 2015 include:

  • Better Together STEM Scholarships. We awarded 10 students with a $100,000 scholarship (up to $20,000 per year for five years), and 90 students with a one-time $2,000 scholarship. Since its inception, PG&E’s Better Together STEM Scholarships have committed $3 million in scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 to 400 students throughout Northern and Central California.
  • Solar Suitcase. A total of 19 Northern and Central California schools were selected to participate in the inaugural year of the PG&E Solar Suitcase program, part of our Better Together Classroom Grants. Under the program, students built portable solar units, participated in local sustainability projects and shared the solar suitcases with students in Kenya. Our program partner, We Share Solar, trained teachers on how to assemble the suitcases so that students can learn the basic principles of clean energy technical education.
  • Better Together Energy Academy. More than 100 high school students successfully graduated from a Better Together Energy Academy, with nearly 80 percent planning to attend a community college or four-year university. In 2015, PG&E introduced a bridge option for Sacramento-based Energy Academy students to attend PowerPathway™, serving as the next step in creating a true workforce development pipeline for PG&E’s future employment needs. Participants enrolled in a 16-week pre-apprenticeship program in partnership with American River Community College and the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency. Students received career support counseling services and were paid a weekly stipend by PG&E.

Economic and Community Vitality

PG&E donates $1 million toward Oakland Promise education initiative

To promote education in a community where more than 70 percent of students come from low-income families, PG&E announced a donation of $1 million in college scholarships over the next five years. The scholarships will be awarded annually to high-performing high school students who seek to go to college at any level.

To help create safe and thriving communities throughout our service area, we provide career training opportunities, support local businesses and offer energy assistance to low-income families. Highlights include:

  • Better Together Economic Vitality Grants. As part of our broader charitable commitment to economic development initiatives, PG&E’s Better Together Economic Vitality Grants invested $200,000 in programs designed to boost local job creation and promote economic opportunity throughout our service area. Grants of up to $20,000 were awarded for programs ranging from business development to workforce training.
  • Better Together Summer Jobs. We committed over $900,000 to PG&E’s Better Together Summer Jobs, which we offer in partnership with local Boys & Girls Club chapters in Fresno, Sacramento and Bakersfield. In 2015, PG&E provided 210 youth with paid summer jobs and approximately 850 youth with workforce training. Since its inception in 2012, nearly 900 youth have received summer jobs and nearly 3,500 have received job training through the program.
  • REACH: PG&E provided over $1.7 million to help more than 6,300 customers through REACH™ in 2015. REACH (Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help) provides emergency energy assistance of up to $300 to low-income customers experiencing a crisis that prevents them from paying their gas or electric bill. This one-time assistance program, funded in part with charitable dollars from PG&E’s shareholders, is administered by The Salvation Army.

Emergency Preparedness

PG&E responds to communities in need

Following the devastating Lake and Butte Fires, PG&E gave grants totaling $485,000 to 23 organizations, including the American Red Cross. In turn, the Red Cross was able to provide over 120,000 meals and snacks as well as 11,000 overnight stays in 12 local shelters. PG&E also distributed 750 relief kits that included items such as water, tents, toothpaste and more. Additionally, PG&E’s ERGs donated $14,000 to help PG&E employees impacted by the fires.

PG&E partners with first responders and community leaders to promote community readiness in the event of an emergency, such as a wildfire or earthquake. In 2015, our efforts included:

  • Partners in Preparedness. We launched a multiyear preparedness strategy that will transform disaster readiness levels in our communities in addition to supporting year-round disaster response efforts. The program is part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which aims to save lives lost due to a preventable cause: home fire.
  • Community Preparedness Support. PG&E’s financial support extended to numerous organizations, including local Fire Safe Councils, cities and school districts, disaster response agencies, police and fire departments, and neighborhood watch organizations. In all, PG&E donated more than $1.6 million to support emergency preparedness in 2015.

Environment

PG&E’s environmental commitment can be seen in our programs to promote renewable energy, foster energy efficiency and protect our parks, recreation areas and natural habitats. Recently offered programs include:

  • Better Together Solar Habitat. Through this program, PG&E fully funds the installation of solar panels on every new Habitat for Humanity-built home in our service area. The program saves each family approximately $500 a year on energy costs, avoids the emission of 132,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the 30-year life of the system, and provides popular volunteer opportunities for our employees. For 11 years, PG&E’s Better Together Solar Habitat has provided more than $10.6 million to help respond to housing needs and bring solar energy to hardworking families with limited incomes.
  • Better Together Nature Restoration Grants. Through our partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which supports community-based projects to restore natural habitats, we awarded over $95,000 in grants to support restoration projects within our service area. Grants went to:
    • Forebay Aquatic Center—a restoration and clean water science ambassador project (Butte County)
    • Waldo Holt Conservancy—enhancing nature and community through education and environmental monitoring (San Joaquin County)
    • Acterra—a San Francisco peninsula stewardship project (Santa Clara County)
    • EarthTeam—a sustainable youth program creating green infrastructure through community-based urban forestry (Contra Costa County)

Measuring Progress

Total Charitable Contributions
Year Charitable Contributions (millions)
2009 $19.2
2010 $19.3
2011 $23.2
2012 $23.2
2013 $23.2
2014 $23.2
2015 $25.0

In 2015, PG&E contributed $25 million to charitable organizations, representing 1.3 percent of our pretax earnings from operations from the prior year. This exceeded our 1.1 percent target and the benchmark of 0.93 percent based on the median percentage of total giving from Fortune 500 companies.

PG&E’s community investments are focused on providing assistance to underserved communities, such as low-income individuals, communities of color, the long-term unemployed, women and girls, veterans, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2015, approximately 82 percent of PG&E’s community investments were directed toward these groups.

Looking Ahead

In 2016, PG&E expects to invest more than $28 million in charitable funding to support underserved communities, with a particular focus on STEM education and support. This will include a new robotics program in partnership with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to support, develop and engage students in hands-on STEM learning opportunities. We will also continue to strengthen the links between our community investments and our future workforce needs by partnering to provide students with internships and job-shadowing opportunities.

Tony Earley speaking at podium.

PG&E, environmental leaders support ‘Yes On Measure AA for a Clean and Healthy Bay’

As part of our commitment to public safety, the environment and serving the community, PG&E Corporation made a $250,000 shareholder-funded commitment to the People for a Clean and Healthy Bay Coalition. With this contribution, PG&E joined a growing list of local leaders in support of a successful measure to advance environmental restoration, pollution reduction and critical flood protection around the San Francisco Bay.

PG&E Corporation Chairman and CEO Tony Earley joined local leaders in support of environmental restoration, pollution reduction and critical flood protection around the San Francisco Bay.

Photo by Phillip Desmangles

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