HDR Foundation awards $1.32m in grants in employee-sponsored scheme

Mike Walters, HDR compliance manager, presents a HDR Foundation grant cheque for $212,374 to Oklahoma Connections Academy staff members, Kristen Whitmer, Kaleb Parmen, Cassie Umbarger, Rae Schroeder and Janie Schatz, as a surprise at OKCA’s holiday party.

A record number of organisations are set to benefit from HDR Foundation’s largest grant cycle to date.

The HDR Foundation has announced 23 grants totaling $1.32m, the foundation’s largest slate of grants since its inception.

Each grant is sponsored by an HDR employee with a personal connection to the non-profit and the current slate includes a $212,374 grant to Oklahoma Connections Academy, the largest employee-sponsored grant awarded to date.

“When the science team at Oklahoma Connections Academy (OKCA) approached me with an idea to help provide statewide STEM exposure to a large number of children, I recognised an extremely worthy cause for the HDR Foundation to support,” said Mike Walters, HDR compliance manager and grant sponsor.

“Numerous children in rural Oklahoma have very little introduction to STEM activities and the mobile STEM lab will help OKCA inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, innovators and more to solve local and global challenges of today and the future,” Walters said.

Other grants reflect employees’ commitment to causes related to their professional expertise. “We have several HDR staff volunteering their time and talents to partner with Surge for Water and advance their critical mission around the globe,” said Scott Todd, southeast regional client development leader, who sponsored a grant for new drinking water wells, school toilet blocks with hand-washing stations and hygiene supplies in Kaberamaido and Kalaki, Uganda. “Through this partnership, we will transform individual lives and whole communities in ways we could never imagine alone,” Todd said.

Often, a HDR employee is paying forward the support they’ve received as a means of giving back. “Mentor For Change has touched the lives of many students and mentors like me over the past ten years,” said Christine Choi, transportation communication specialist at HDR, whose grant will fund a passenger van to transport youth to mentoring, STEAM and personal development activities.

“This mentorship programme has flourished due to the invaluable support I’ve received from remarkably compassionate and honest mentors who stood by me in both the best and worst of times. I wholeheartedly aspire to continue this journey of mentorship with many others whose lives I may touch,” Choi said.

The HDR Foundation provides grants to qualified organisations that align with HDR’s areas of expertise of education, healthy communities and environmental stewardship. As an employee-funded and employee-driven foundation, preference is given to organisations located in communities in which HDR employees live and work and those with strong employee involvement. Since its inception, the HDR Foundation has provided more than $9m in grants to over 350 organisations.

Mike Walters, HDR compliance manager, presents an HDR Foundation grant check for $212,374 to Oklahoma Connections Academy staff members Kristen Whitmer, Kaleb Parmen, Cassie Umbarger, Rae Schroeder and Janie Schatz as a surprise at OKCA’s holiday party.