Community Investments

Through PG&E’s New Energy Academy program, students participate in a curriculum of science, technology, engineering and mathematic classes.

Through its community in­vest­ments, PG&E engages, supports and improves the neighborhoods where our customers and em­ploy­ees live and work. Whether we are helping local communities launch new school programs for students interested in the energy industry or providing clean en­er­gy alternatives to underserved neighborhoods, PG&E is working to make a difference.

About our Community Investments

In 2011, PG&E donated $23.2 million to charitable organizations, representing an increase of 20 percent over the prior year’s contributions of $19.3 million. This met our target of 1.1 percent of our pre-tax earnings from operations from the prior year and included more than 1,400 grants to nonprofits. PG&E’s community investment program is funded entirely by shareholders and has no impact on our customers’ electricity or natural gas rates. Most of these contributions were made to nonprofit organizations in Northern and Central California. PG&E also makes in-kind contributions and provides other forms of support to community groups.

Employee Perspectives

Construction Specialist Norman Soares talks about employee involvement in PG&E’s community outreach efforts.

PG&E is an active participant in the lives of the communities we serve, supporting the good work of hundreds of local civic organizations. Here are some of the community awards we received for our work in 2011:

  • National Career Academy Coalition—Henk Koning Exemplary Partnership Award for PG&E’s New Energy Academy as a best in class public/private partnership
  • San Francisco Business Times—Top Bay Area Corporate Philanthropists
  • Sacramento Business Journal—Partners in Philanthropy Award

Community Investment Focus Areas

To achieve maximum impact in helping to address the needs of our communities, our community investment program focuses on three areas: Education, Environmental Stewardship, and Economic and Community Vitality. The chart below shows the breakdown across these areas.



Education

Over the last decade, PG&E has provided about $40 million toward educational initiatives. We support innovative programs that give students and teachers more opportunities to learn and prepare for their future, while also improving the future of California and the energy industry. Here's an example from 2011:

New Energy Academy

To help address the growing need for skill­ed trade crafts and “green” tech­no­lo­gy skills and to prepare students for success upon graduation, PG&E created the New Energy Academy program at five high schools in our service area in partnership with the California De­part­ment of Edu­ca­tion. By focusing on a specific career theme, the academy creates a school within a school. Once committed to the program, students participate in a curriculum comprised of relevant science, technology, engineering and mathematic classes.

Representing California’s first immersive energy training program of its kind for high school students, the academy’s nearly 350 students are located in select schools across the state: Berkeley High School of Berkeley, Foothill High School of Sacramento, Edison High School of Fresno, Independence High School of Bakersfield and Venture Academy of Stockton.

PG&E committed $1 million in 2011 toward classroom enhancements, equipment and supplies and a $1,000 scholarship for each student of the inaugural class graduating in 2013. Pacific Gas and Electric Company President Chris Johns visited Independence High School in Bakersfield to announce this commitment and meet program participants. Additionally, Edison High School celebrated a successful first year of the New Energy Academy.

Environmental Stewardship

PG&E understands the importance of supporting energy sustainability, environmental education and stewardship of our land and waters. We support partnerships that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as local Earth Day projects that benefit our neighborhoods, parks and recreation areas.

PG&E’s Bright Ideas Grants

Recognizing that public schools are facing hard economic times, PG&E’s Bright Ideas Grants give teachers and schools the fi­nan­cial support and re­sour­ces they need to help implement their in­no­va­tive environmental and energy projects. In 2011, this program donated about $420,000 to more than 60 schools in grants of up to $10,000 each. Projects ranged from “green” campus upgrades to providing unique environmental learning opportunities for students.

One recipient was Natoma Station Elementary in Folsom, which received a $10,000 grant from PG&E. The school will use the money to develop a garden that will be used as an outdoor learning space for the students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

PG&E’s Nature Restoration Trust

To help protect Ca­li­for­nia’s diverse wildlife, we established the PG&E Nature Re­sto­ration Trust with the National Fish and Wild­life Foundation. In part­ner­ship, the or­ga­ni­za­tions provide matching grants to projects that benefit wildlife, fish and plant species in Nor­thern and Central California. Major funding for the program comes from PG&E, which has committed more than $2 million since 2000 to support projects throughout our service area.

The Trust seeks to fund projects that offer educational opportunities and encourage community involvement in conservation efforts. For example, students from Davis High School traveled to the town of Winters last year to help transform six miles of Dry Creek into a wildlife habitat. Working in coordination with Audubon California, the students planted trees and shrubs and installed irrigation systems. They also built and installed bird boxes to attract western bluebirds and tree swallows and added boxes for burrowing owls.

Economic and Community Vitality

PG&E is committed to invigorating the neighborhoods where our customers live and work. We focus on projects where we can leverage our expertise. These efforts include providing assistance to low-income families with their utility bills, partnering with local organizations to support emergency preparedness efforts, investing in local economic and energy-related workforce development initiatives and supporting civic projects that vitalize the community.

Ready Neighborhoods Program

As a longtime partner of the Red Cross, PG&E understands the vital nature of disaster preparedness. In 2011, we renewed our support with a $1 million pledge to the American Red Cross Ready Neighborhoods program. The program focuses on the most vulnerable communities across Northern and Central California, setting up disaster-preparedness resources by engaging community groups to help in the effort, identifying shelter locations, participating in response training and distributing free emergency kits.

The program focuses on communities across our service area with a special emphasis on those with high levels of poverty, where residents often don’t speak English or where residents have other potential difficulties in responding to a disaster. In its first year, the initiative was implemented in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Fresno area and Greater Sacramento area.

Learn more about the Red Cross “Prep Rally,” where PG&E made a $1 million pledge to support vulnerable communities.

PG&E Playgrounds

Studies show that access to play builds skills that foster happier, healthier children who perform better in school. So PG&E is investing in the PG&E Playgrounds program—helping to build playgrounds in at-risk and underserved areas we serve.

Partnering with KaBOOM!, a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play, and with local community partners, we are bringing playgrounds and the related benefits to children who need it most. Community members and children participate in the playground-design process, and then each site is built in a single day, all by PG&E and community volunteers. The KaBOOM! community-build model is designed to help a community not only construct a playground, but strengthen existing coordination and resources, while building the skills needed to undertake future community improvements.

Watch a video showing how hundreds of volunteers built a playground in Santa Rosa in six hours.

 

Helping Underserved Communities

During 2011, more than 70 percent of PG&E’s community investments provided assistance to underserved communities. This funding supported projects and organizations assisting people with low incomes, communities of color, women and girls, veterans, senior citizens, people with disabilities and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

We continue to give priority to viable local partners whose projects address recognized community needs, link to our key focus areas, provide an opportunity for employee volunteerism and are located within our service area.

In 2012, PG&E expects to again provide more than $23 million in charitable funding, with an overarching emphasis on supporting underserved communities.

2012 Employee Giving Program

PG&E’s Campaign for the Community is an annual employee and retiree giving campaign. Money raised from the campaign is used to support schools and other nonprofit organizations.

Campaign for the Community logo

In our 2012 Campaign for the Community, employees pledged more than $5.3 million— exceeding our $5 million goal and setting a new record. The money raised for the campaign will be distributed throughout 2012 to 5,000 schools and nonprofit organizations—environmental groups, hospitals, community centers, food banks and many others—to help keep important programs and services alive in our communities. Pledges were made by 41 percent of employees and more than 400 retirees. Since 2000, PG&E’s employee giving program has raised more than $40 million for communities primarily within Northern and Central California.