A Helping Hand for Nonprofits Working to Uplift Underserved Communities

Each year, Edison International funds thousands of nonprofits through charitable grants. The next grants cycle opens March 1 and a workshop will be held March 4 in El Monte.

February 24, 2014 | By Charles Isaac

When Jack Shaw and Ellen Shockro established the El Viento Foundation in 1996, their mission was to introduce students in the Oak View community of Huntington Beach to their greater role in the environment and provide them with the tools and skills they need to create their own opportunities in life. In a community with low graduation rates and high poverty, the El Viento program guides students through elementary, middle and high school.

“They start in fourth grade and they continue. That, I feel, is the biggest reason for the success of the program,” said Colleen Mensel, CEO of the El Viento Foundation. “We really intervene with the kids as soon as they receive a C in any course. We make sure they go to homework club or provide them small group and one-on-one tutoring.”

And their work would not be possible without the financial support of companies like Edison International.

Interested nonprofits can once again apply for Edison International grants up to $5,000 and applications can be filled out online. Grant Day workshops are also being held in various cities throughout the year to help nonprofits with their applications. The next workshop will be held at the El Monte Aquatic Center on March 4.

Edison International’s contributions to El Viento support the foundation’s efforts to close the minority and socio-economic gap in pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. These efforts include a one-week science camp for fourth graders, internships, mentoring by older students and a pilot program for high school freshmen to develop a once per month STEM curriculum.

“Last year, at our graduation ceremony, a dad came up to me and started to cry — he said he could never give his daughter what you guys did,” said Mensel. “She wound up getting a full scholarship to Chapman University.”

Last year, Edison International gave $19.7 million to thousands of nonprofits whose work is making a difference in the categories of education, public safety/preparedness, environment and civic engagement. Edison International’s support of charitable causes is funded entirely by its shareholders and is not charged to customers of its utility, Southern California Edison.

“We realize our community partners work tirelessly to provide programs and services that addresses the needs of underserved communities,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy & Community Investment. “We feel fortunate that we can help with that impact and encourage nonprofits in our service territory to learn about and apply for grants that are aligned with one or more of our four giving priorities.”

Not all grantees serve small communities. Since 1973, Olive Crest has worked tirelessly to meet the individual needs of kids in crisis by providing safe homes, counseling and education for both youth and parents.

Edison International gave $5,000 to Olive Crest’s residential program in Riverside County, which provides treatment for probation and foster children between the ages of 12 and 18 who have been removed from their biological families due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. In addition to independent living skills and job readiness training, youth residents receive nutritional counseling, health consultations and education.

“Family is very important to what we do at Olive Crest,” said Executive Director Pam Lee. “These kids often don’t have a support system, and we become that support system."

The next Edison International grants cycle will open on March 1 and close on March 31. For more information: www.edison.com/community or email edison.gifts@SCE.com.

Edison International Grant Workshop:

Date: March 4
Location: El Monte Aquatic Center, 11001 Mildred Street, El Monte, CA 91731
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (four sessions will take place, applicants can select one session)

Topics: People