Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds has been among the top recommendations to combat the spread of COVID-19. But what if clean, running water wasn’t available? No water to drink, shower, or do laundry. No water to combat a contagious virus or fast-spreading wildfires. No water for livestock or irrigation of crops.
As our firm participates in Imagine a Day Without Water today, we realize the national educational campaign sheds a different light on the essential, valuable resource this year. So many Americans take for granted the ability to turn the tap and immediately have access to quality water. Ten years ago, we established the Woodard & Curran Foundation to support environmental nonprofit organizations across the country, including those dedicated to preserving water resources and improving water infrastructure. The experts at Woodard & Curran are uniquely positioned to identify, evaluate, and support projects focused on solving problems that impact our water and environment.
A Decade of Doing Good
The Foundation was born out of the idea that we could leverage our expertise as a public non-profit supporting other non-profit organizations with an aligned mission. Within the first four years, generous funding support from Woodard & Curran employees, corporate matching, and private donors allowed our giving to double annually. In the past decade, the Foundation’s grant giving has increased ten-fold. In total, we have dedicated nearly $750,000 in the form of “Giving While Living” grants and Impact Grants nationwide. In addition to issuing our fifth Impact Grant this year, we are also marking our tenth anniversary by distributing ten $10,000 “Giving While Living Grants” to organizations nominated by Woodard & Curran employee donors.
We are also excited to announce a one-time $10,000 birthday celebration grant to the Blue Sky Fund based in Richmond, Virginia, an organization chosen by the Foundation’s Advancement Committee for its dedication to environmental justice issues. “The events of 2020 have invigorated interest in environmental and racial justice and in the organizations working in these fields,” said Colvin Hedgepeth, Blue Sky Fund’s Development and Communications Director. “Woodard & Curran Foundation has been doing amazing work for ten years and Blue Sky Fund is over the moon to be selected as the recipient of this grant.”
Each Giving While Living grant allows like-minded organizations to immediately make an impact in their community. Connecticut-based SoundWaters used their $1,800 grant earlier this year to quickly transition their education programs into an online science distance-learning library as a resource for teachers. The organization focused on eight key topics regarding Long Island Sound, producing and distributing 85 lessons to 600 schools at no cost. In 2018, a $1,300 grant to Engineers Without Borders/UCLA Chapter helped students travel to Arizona and create an off-grid running water system for residents of a Navajo reservation. The system delivers clean running water to homes alleviating the burden of hauling water or unsanitary storage methods. A $1,500 grant sponsored the 18th annual Sacramento Area Creek Council Creek Week, which educates the public about urban creeks as a valuable water resource to people and animals in the region.
In 2016, we awarded the first Impact Grant to the University of Rhode Island Foundation on behalf of the URI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The $100,000 over the course of three years funded the design of sustainable water systems for climate change adaptation and mitigation and implementation of the system for a new school in Cumayasa, Dominican Republic. The next grant recipient, San Francisco-based Literacy for Environmental Justice, used the grant funds to build a water-harvesting/storage/distribution system designed to supply 16,000 gallons of water annually for irrigation at an on-site nursery and community garden in the city’s marginalized Candlestick Park neighborhood. The third Impact Grant recipient, Change is Simple, dedicated the funds to constructing an environmental educational trailer designed to visit schools in and around Boston. In 2019, Friends of Casco Bay in Portland, Maine was awarded the next Impact Grant. The funds are being leveraged to collect hourly data year-round throughout the bay by deploying three high-tech continuous monitoring stations in an estuarine, near-shore environment, and communicate to the community about the changing conditions of the bay. Our most recent grant recipient, Ridge to Reefs, is developing an affordable, sustainable transition from cesspools to proper wastewater treatment to protect public health and the surrounding ecosystem in Hawaii.
Committed to the Future
Our employees make all these grants possible by donating to the Foundation through payroll deduction and other means. Woodard & Curran has consistently matched a percentage of amount contributed based on employee participation. Importantly and generously, the firm recently announced it will increase its match to 100 percent of dollar-for-dollar employee donations. “Ten years ago, when we formed the Foundation, we had a dream of developing something that was self-sustaining through employee funding and leadership, which would make a difference in the world around environmental health issues,” said CEO Doug McKeown. “It has grown as we hoped with strong support from our employees, so at this 10-year milestone, increasing the Company match to 100 percent of our employee donations is a reflection of the pride we have in our employees for making our Woodard & Curran Foundation what it is today.”
Our donors have always been generous with their wisdom, wealth, and work. Employee participation through both donations and volunteer hours has consistently grown over the past ten years. This increased corporate match will ensure the Foundation’s ability to give generously to deliver on its mission of protecting water and the environment for decades to come, hoping that no one will have to know what a day without water is truly like.