American Water, the largest publicly-traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, and the American Water Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with The Story Family Fund, announced today a new partnership with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation to expand Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s Winning in Life® program. The combined grant of $1 million will expand the program to five economically distressed communities served by American Water.
“American Water is extremely proud to work with an inspiring hero like Jackie,” said Walter Lynch, President & CEO. “This partnership, along with many other efforts, reflect our long-term commitment to make the communities we serve stronger. This commitment of purpose is shared by all of our employees and we are honored to partner with Jackie to expand her program to positively impact youth across the U.S.”
The JJK Winning in Life program focuses on bringing leadership skills to at-risk youth in underserved communities by teaching personal and social responsibility through physical activity. Due to COVID-19, the new expansion programs will be announced individually in the selected communities when it can be done safely in the future.
“We truly appreciate our continued strong relationship with American Water. Their support has been invaluable as we continue to develop and expand our programs for underserved youth,” said Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Founder and CEO of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and six-time Olympic medalist. “Our JJK Winning in Life programs champion tomorrow’s role models, citizens and community leaders by empowering children and youth to succeed through believing in themselves, character and leadership development.”
Largely committed in 2019, the grant funding, includes $500,000 from The Story Family Fund, $250,000 from American Water and $250,000 from the American Water Charitable Foundation.
“Everyone is aware of Jackie’s amazing athletic accomplishments, but less well known are her tireless efforts and remarkable accomplishments off the field as a philanthropist and an advocate for youth education, health issues, racial equality, social reform and women’s rights,” said Susan Story of The Story Family Charitable Fund and former president and CEO of American Water. “These are issues which are very important to me personally, and Jackie’s Winning in Life program is an exciting way to make a long-term investment in communities and leaders for today and the future.”
In addition to today’s announcement, American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation have contributed more than $400,000 over the past three months to help local communities served by American Water mitigate impacts of COVID-19 and help foster change to a more just, inclusive and diverse society.
The American Water COVID-19 Response Fund recently provided over $300,000 in grants to 84 communities served by American Water throughout the United States. These grants supported COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts, with many focused-on hunger, youth and social services.
Additional COVID-19 relief efforts included a $100,000 donation from American Water and American Water Charitable Foundation to Feeding America to support its network of 200 foodbanks and 60,000 partner agencies’ meal assistance programs for the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Finally, to inspire and support American Water employees who want to give back to organizations focused on racial injustice, inclusion and diversity, American Water Charitable Foundation established the “Giving Back is Beautifully Different” campaign, where the Foundation provided every employee with $10 to donate to an organization meaningful to them. Ten employees also were randomly selected and given $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.
To kick-start the campaign and celebrate the American Water Charitable Foundation’s 10-year anniversary, the Foundation also announced a $10,000 donation to the Equal Justice Initiative.
“Providing American Water employees with an opportunity to give back to organizations they care about is a primary focus of our foundation,” said Carrie Williams, president of the American Water Charitable Foundation. “The Foundation is pleased to recognize and emphasize that giving back is beautifully different.”