Ameren pledges $2.5 million for Ferguson Commission priorities | St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren pledges $2.5 million for Ferguson Commission priorities

Oct 3, 2015

​Updated at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 with more detail on recipients - Ameren Corporation has pledged $2.5 million dollars to programs that support the Ferguson Commission’s priorities to reduce poverty and improve educational opportunities in St. Louis. The commission’s other priorities include justice and racial equity.

Ameren announced the funding Saturday during an employee festival celebrating diversity.

“Being a good corporate citizen is more than just providing a service. It’s giving back. Not only as a corporation but our coworkers, they give back each and every day thousands of hours of volunteerism. This is because they’re part of the community, they’re part of the fabric of the community and they’re going to continue to be,” said Ameren president Warner Baxter why his corporation was making the charitable donations.

Baxter said his company wants to support the Ferguson Commission because the commission is bringing the region together.

Ameren is dividing its donations into three categories, with a $1 million each going towards education and energy assistance. The final $500,000 is going towards job training.

Some of the funding continues existing partnerships, like the one between Ameren and Heat Up St. Louis.

Rev. Earl Nance Jr., chairman emeritus of Heat Up St. Louis, said the continued support highlight’s Ameren’s understanding that corporations have a responsibility to the community.

“Ameren is sensitive enough to know that (the poor, the disabled and seniors need help) and to try to provide assistance so people can stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer,” Nance said.

Other funding is being directed to new initiatives, like a Wyman Center program that expands the organization’s existing services from high school to the point where students begin their careers.

“We discovered in our work (that) young people, particularly from circumstances where they haven’t had a lot of supports and opportunities … were getting into college but not really sure what their path should be and therefore choosing majors and courses of study that really wouldn’t take them as far as they could possibly go,” said Wyman Center President Dave Hilliard.

Hilliard said a key part of the new program will be mentorships connecting Ameren employees with students. He also said Wyman Center will focus its efforts on north St. Louis County.

In all, Ameren is dividing it’s funding between eight programs:

$1 million for education:

-University of Missouri St. Louis for scholarships to underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math and to help students transition to college ($500,000)

-Wyman Center to expand it college-readiness mentorship program into the college years ($375,000)

-Child Care Aware to train early childhood teachers ($100,000)

A spokesperson for Ameren said the company has set aside another $100,000 for education but hasn't decided what program will receive the money. That brings the total funding allocated for education to $1,075,000.

$500,000 for job training:

-Urban League Save Our Sons program to help black men increase their marketable skills ($250,000)

-Concordance Academy of Leadership to help parolees find jobs ($150,000)

-Florissant Valley Community College for its energy industry pre-apprenticeship program ($100,000)

$1 million for energy assistance:

-Ameren’s Dollar More Assistance Program

-Heat Up St. Louis, which helps pay utility bills and provides air conditioners

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.