We encourage our employees to engage with the communities in which they live and work, and to play an active role in global initiatives.
Employees participate enthusiastically in the ERM Foundation and its Low Carbon Enterprise Fund, local office initiatives and a range of global organizations.
ERM support for communities comes through financial contributions, allocation of pro bono time for technical and business advice and support for employee initiatives. In FY14, ERM contributed more than $1.4 million, which represents 1.4 percent of prior year profits towards global sustainability initiatives, primarily through The ERM Foundation and its programs.
This year, the Foundation's Regional Flagship project for EMEA continued with the support of elephant conservation in Tanzania. We also selected a new Americas project, which will focus on sustainable fisheries and local livelihoods for remote communities in the Canadian Arctic.
The Low Carbon Enterprise Fund (LCEF) is an important program of the Foundation, and this year invested $200,000 in businesses in Cambodia and Indonesia to bring our total funds committed since 2008 to $1.3 million. We also established an Incubator Fund to support start-up ventures and initiated our first such project, a locally solar energy provider in South Africa.
In addition to the work of the Foundation, ERM employees identify local projects or initiatives and participate in community activities. As a company, ERM supports these activities by encouraging employee participation, providing basic supplies when needed and publicizing the results of such events throughout the relevant region.
Providing Environmental Education in Our Local Communities
More than US $150,000 in grants were disbursed in FY14 globally to support environmental education initiatives that impacted more than 110,000 community members, many of them children.
One such project was supported by ERM's Richmond, Virginia office in the United States. The Blue Sky Fund helps low-income children from Richmond improve academic achievement, especially in the environmental sciences, through active outdoor education. Blue Sky provides much-needed, but very rare, opportunities for at-risk urban students to travel to diverse natural environments in order to learn hands-on about earth science concepts. In 2013, Blue Sky Fund programs reached over 1,200 children, enhancing their environmental awareness, as measured by pre- and post-evaluations. Around 67 percent of student participants improved and maintained science grades. Every Richmond office employee volunteers his or her own time to teach a class, including a hands-on activity, at least once per year. The experience has been rewarding and impactful personally for Bernly Bressler, Richmond Branch Manager and volunteer Blue Sky Board member, who said, "Every time I leave a teaching session, I feel invigorated and excited as I have done something personally to change a child's life. Something as simple as bringing the experience of something (we all take for granted) was quite powerful for me."