Consumers energy, employees give back to communities

ceMichigan’s nonprofit organizations made a significant impact on communities around the state in 2014, helped by $10 million in contributions from Consumers Energy and its employees.
“These contributions fund United Ways, keep families warm, feed children and plant the seeds for our state to continue to grow,” said David Mengebier, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of governmental and public affairs and president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We’re committed to working with Michigan’s nonprofit organizations to make our state a better place.”
The $10 million figure represents contributions from Consumers Energy, its employees, retirees, Foundation and parent company CMS Energy. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy, providing funds for education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.
Four million dollars of the contributions helped organizations that provide direct energy assistance to those in need, including The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), TrueNorth Community Services, The Salvation Army and Michigan Community Action. Those organizations will match $2 for every $1 that Consumers Energy is contributing.
United Ways received $1.7 million. Of that, $1.1 million was contributed by employee and retiree contributions to 57 United Ways.
More than 450 nonprofit organizations received $230,000 on behalf of 556 employees and retirees through the Volunteer Investment Program (VIP). Organizations supported by employees and retirees with volunteer time may receive grants of $100 to $500 or more through this program.
Another $105,000 went to 115 higher education institutions, community foundations, food banks, food pantries and homeless shelters across the through the Foundation’s Matching Gifts program, which matched employee and retiree donations.
The Caring for Our Community grant program provided $32,000 to 129 nonprofit organizations on behalf of 1,010 employees. The program recognizes the efforts of teams of employees volunteering for a nonprofit organization or event.
“There’s really no single way that our employees give back,” Mengebier said. “They donate money and time to a variety of causes, in all parts of the state. What unifies their giving is a desire to leave their communities better.”
Other highlights of the 2014 contributions:

  • $800,000 to support Detroit’s “grand bargain,” helping protect pensions for Detroit’s retirees and preserving public art at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
  • Nearly $800,000 for early childhood initiatives and basic needs programs from a CMS Energy donor-advised fund.
  • More than $300,000 to provide energy assistance to Michigan residents through Walks for Warmth.
  • $250,000 for the Detroit Zoo, for its new Polk Penguin Conservation Center.
  • $200,000 to support FIRST Robotics, including funding to help start new middle school and high school teams across the state.
  • $200,000 for Grand Valley State University’s Student Academic Success Center and the Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy.
  • $100,000 to the Cranbrook Institute of Science, for its Water on the Go! program, providing watershed education to upper elementary and middle school students in Midland, Bay City, Saginaw and Genesee counties.
  • $100,000 to Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, for its “Center of Hope” campaign, to create a one-stop service center for human services organizations.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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