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Community Investments

2012 Corporate Responsibility Report

Our community investments align with our business strategy. We take an active role in maintaining and improving the vitality of the communities we serve.  In 2011, Progress Energy and its foundation made nearly $9 million in investments to support a variety of local nonprofit organizations and initiatives, adding to the overall quality of life in its service area.

Progress Energy Community Investment chart

The Progress Energy Foundation partners with nonprofits in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida to help our communities by supporting a variety of local charities by matching contributions to our Employee Giving Campaign and Energy Neighbor Fund.

Grants made from the foundation align with the company’s strategic plan in four targeted areas – economic vitality and community support, education, environment and workforce development.

Economic vitality and community support

The Progress Energy Foundation provided $3.3 million in 2011 for economic vitality and community support, including:

  • More than $1 million to match employee contributions to the annual employee giving campaign, supporting 1,100 nonprofits throughout our service territory.
  • More than $800,000 to match customer and employee donations to the Energy Neighbor Fund, a low-income energy assistance program for customers in need.
  • Support for “Rembrandt in America,” the largest exhibit of Rembrandt paintings from American collections, at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The exhibit attracted more than 150,000 visitors from all 100 N.C. counties, all 50 states and 42 foreign countries, resulting in a local economic impact of more than $13 million.
  • $1.5 million in a multi-year grant to performing arts organizations headquartered at the Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh, N.C., to develop various programs and create an annual community arts festival called ARTStober. Organizations receiving funding include the Carolina Ballet; the North Carolina Opera; the North Carolina Symphony; the North Carolina Theatre; and Pinecone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music.
  • Support for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) for an economic development project and expansion project. CMA is the home of Winter the dolphin, whose story was depicted in the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale and filmed onsite. The grant funded the creation of the visitor experience program at the CMA in anticipation of the increased attendance upon the movie’s release. 
  • Support for the Florida Orchestra at the Mahaffey Theater’s Progress Energy Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg. Funds help with the orchestra’s Community Accessibility Initiative, the goal of which is to significantly reduce barriers to participation through lower prices and a greater variety of performance options. In 2011, Progress Energy provided a grant to underwrite the Masterworks Matinee Series, which offers free tickets to underserved public school students in grades 7-12. 


The Progress Energy Foundation provided $1 million in 2011 to support education, including:

  • Support for DonorsChoose and local education foundations to develop energy curricula, provide hands-on learning opportunities and build teacher capacity to educate students in energy and energy-related careers. Through these opportunities, students master basic energy concepts, discover energy-related career opportunities and learn about the complex issues the energy industry currently faces.
  • A partnership with the NC New Schools Project to create a network of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) secondary schools with a focus on energy and sustainability. The network includes Wake NC State University STEM Early College High School, Avery County High School STEM Academy and Edgecombe Early College High School. High-quality STEM education prepares students to compete in the 21st century economy.
  • Funding for Wayne Community College’s Camp Kilowatt, a summer day camp for high school and middle school students who are interested in alternative energy.  Students have the opportunity to build wind turbines, solar-powered boats and cars, hydrogen fuel cell cars and sterling engines. Through Camp Kilowatt, Wayne Community College and Progress Energy are able to increase students’ interest in developing the skills and competencies demanded by the energy industry, as well as recruit underrepresented groups into science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) fields. 
  • Support for more than 3,500 fifth-grade students in Marion County to learn about electricity in conjunction with Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for Science. In addition, high school students at Dunnellon High School (DHS) were able to participate in the DHS Power Generation Academy and have hands-on experiences working side by side with industry mentors. 
  • Support for Junior Achievement of West Central Florida’s STEM-TEC Summer Career Institute, which serves low-income middle school and high school students. During these summer workshops, students learn about energy-related careers – such as electrical engineers, power plant operators, pipe layers and linemen – as well as renewable energy resources. In addition to the summer workshops, the Progress Energy grant funds year-round employability skills workshops available to all students in Pinellas County Centers of Excellence. 

Workforce development

The Progress Energy Foundation provided $1 million in 2011 to support workforce development, including:

  • Support for programs at NC State University’s College of Engineering that attract and retain women and underrepresented populations. Funding was also used to establish a new dual-degree engineering program between Meredith College and NC State University.
  • Creation of a Center for Electric Utility Substations and Relay Systems at Richmond Community College (RCC). Progress Energy not only provided funding but was also instrumental in developing the curriculum and providing in-kind equipment donations. Nationwide, the utility workforce is aging, and RCC’s program will help fill that gap in substation and relay technology.
  • Establishing a Pipe Line Welding Academy and Pipe Fitting Program at Florence-Darlington Technical College. These programs are crucial to the operation of nuclear and fossil facilities, and they require in-depth knowledge of safety and problem-solving skills to succeed in these programs. In particular, the pipe fitting program is one of a few in the country and the demand for these skilled workers is great.
  • Funding for The Engineering Leadership Institute (ELI2) at the University of Central Florida (UCF), which provides the academic foundation for future engineers and the leadership and critical thinking skills needed to become a successful professional in our industry. ELI2’s Leadership Seminar Series features high-level professionals from the industry who share practical professional development opportunities with junior and senior students. Each speaker in the series addresses one or more of the core skills UCF has identified to augment the core engineering curriculum including solution delivery, values and passion, professionalism in the global company, and the power of critical thinking. 
  • Funding to the University of Florida to help female students achieve their goals of working in the engineering and energy industries. Research shows that female students are more successful when they are surrounded by other female students and have a female instructor. Our grant funds female engineering teaching assistants for female-only sections in the major freshman science courses. Previously funded projects reveal that more than 30 percent of the participating students found the all-female sections to be encouraging, and they were more likely to pursue a career in STEM-related fields after their experience. 

The Progress Energy Foundation provided $500,000 in 2011 to support the environment, including:

  • Funding for the University of South Florida‘s Center for Science and Policy Applications for the Coastal Environment (C-SPACE). C-SPACE is a watershed approach to exploring connections between aquatic and terrestrial habitats within the Tampa Bay region, and throughout coastal Florida. Research teams will investigate the persistence of chemical contaminants, such as pesticides, in the environment. 
  • The Institute for Environment at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economic Development (SEEED) program. SEEED has created a vibrant group of UNC faculty and students focused on the interrelation of energy, economic vitality and sustainability. The 2011 grant supports an integrated program of energy research and public outreach through K-12 teacher workshops, public seminars and graduate research.
  • Partnering with NC State University in the Advanced Transportation Energy Center (ATEC), a public/private collaborative research partnership seeking to advance the widespread societal use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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