Southern Company system employees are inextricably woven into the communities we are privileged to serve. We maintain local offices in many towns. Our crews can be seen quickly restoring power in neighborhoods hit by storms. You'll find us at community events and our foundations in support of local charities. Our policy to be "a citizen wherever we serve" goes back to our earliest beginnings and can be summarized by this passage from Preston Arkwright, an early company leader:
"Our business is different from nearly all other businesses that I know. When we go to a place, we go not as tourists, not as transients, not as promoters and not as tenants. When and where we go, we build and construct a permanent character that can never be moved away. Our first act upon arrival constitutes that we have selected that particular place in which to become a citizen. Not for just an hour, not for just a day, but for always."
The Southern Company system and its employees actively engage in community service and philanthropy. We encourage volunteerism, take on leadership roles and apply our time and experience to furthering good causes.
Across the Southern Company system, we make direct corporate contributions and endow and fund independent, non-profit company foundations that contribute to arts and culture, health and human services, civic and community projects, safety, education and the environment. Total giving, including all Southern Company subsidiaries, exceeded $45 million in 2015.
Our employee service and charitable programs throughout our company raise more than $2 million annually from employees. The funds support United Way charities and other organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society, Salvation Army and Council for Aging, plus other causes listed below.
Additionally, company grants and employee donations make possible Family Services Assistance, an employee emergency fund. Family Services assists employees with significant damage to personal property from a storm so they can carry on restoration duties for the community.
In addition to grants and charitable donations, Southern Company subsidiaries offer opportunities for employees to volunteer for community outreach, including hurricane relief, Relay for Life and March of Dimes' WalkAmerica. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, employees participate in a company-sponsored program—to make it a "day on, not a day off"—and work with community groups in the spirit of service, activism, and diversity.
Community service groups for employees and retirees administered by Southern Company's subsidiaries include the Alabama Power Service Organization, Alabama Power Energizers, Georgia Power Ambassadors, Citizens of Georgia Power, Gulf Power Transformers, and the Mississippi Power Community Connection. These groups work on education, the environment, community and economic development, and they support hospitals, libraries, shelters, food banks, nursing homes, children's homes, and non-profit organizations. All told, thousands of our employees and retirees freely give more than 200,000 hours annually for positive works to improve the communities we serve.
Project SHARE provides emergency assistance to customers who need help with basic necessities—housing, food, medical care, and utility services. Project SHARE assists the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick, and others who are experiencing financial hardship. In some areas, Southern Company subsidiaries contribute directly to Project SHARE or match funds contributed by customers. We also promote Project SHARE in advertising and on customer websites and facilitate contributions by customers on their electricity bills and by employees through payroll deduction. The program is administered by The Salvation Army in Georgia and the American Red Cross in Alabama and Mississippi.
Payne Stewart Award
The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually by the PGA TOUR Policy Board and Southern Company to a PGA TOUR player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of golf and his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support. The $500,000 Payne Stewart Award Grant is awarded at THE TOUR Championship and supports the First Tee organization, the Stewart Family Foundation and charities named by the winner. First Tee helps young people of all backgrounds develop character through golf and scholarship. The Stewart Family Foundation aids less fortunate children.
Technical Education - Started in 2001 as a partnership with West Florida High School in Pensacola, Gulf Power Academy is a three-year curriculum, including traditional high school academic courses, that prepares students for a career with an electric utility. The academy was named the nation's premier model for small learning communities, and has achieved a "Distinguished" rating from a national evaluation. "Distinguished" is the highest possible rating, and being named a "premier model" means that Gulf Power Academy will act as the template for similar programs throughout the nation.