Uplifting communities is one of the things I’m most passionate about. While there are plenty of ways to make an impact, having a job that incorporates this passion and purpose is a special opportunity. Even more, working for an organization that prioritizes initiatives that positively impact communities and offers me resources to serve others more powerfully than I could on my own is a game changer. I knew I wanted to be part of a company that was a good corporate citizen, and that’s what led me to DTE 18 years ago.
It’s not just about providing energy, it’s about serving with energy. That’s what has made DTE a leader in corporate citizenship, as recognized by one of the nation’s most prominent nonprofit organizations Points of Light for six years running. I’m grateful to have played a small role in that movement during my tenure by leading projects within state government affairs and community engagement, and now leading our corporate citizenship work.
Our commitment to being a force for good within the communities we live and serve has not only been a priority, but it’s also been a humbling experience in many ways. I’ve seen team members uplift vulnerable customers when they need it most, especially through our Community Network program that drives partnerships with community-based organizations, like Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels (YMOW).
We launched the Community Network program in 2022 as a way to mobilize DTE leaders to connect with local organizations so we can serve as a resource to groups making a real difference in our state. We wanted to immerse ourselves more deeply within these communities and offer stronger support through customer service, volunteerism and corporate philanthropy.
After partnering with YMOW in February 2022, not only were we able to deliver more meals to underserved neighborhoods throughout Ypsilanti, but we helped power their residents as well. Our team added energy efficiency kits to meal packages as cost savings options and delivered them to customers. We’ve also supported activations through sponsorships and volunteered at various community events.
It has been a little over a year since we implemented the Community Network program, and we’ve had the opportunity to sponsor 21 community events, organize 11 volunteer activities and reach more than 64,000 community members. These are the types of initiatives that make me proud to show up to work every day, and just one of the many programs that earned us the Civic 50 Corporate Citizenship Leader award this year and five years prior by Points of Light.
Our mission of serving with energy has led us to many communities across Michigan through projects similar to the Corporate Network program. Our Your Cause Your Choice program drove grant and volunteerism support to non-profits voted on by residents. The Tree Trim Academy is working to close the gap of inequity and unemployment through inclusive recruitment efforts, and our partnership with the license restoration project “Road to Restoration” has helped over 4,000 Michiganders and counting regain driving credentials.
There’s no higher honor than serving others, and I’m grateful to work for a company that leads with community driven values. Because of this, we’re able to partner with grassroots organizations that have long served their communities and give back on a scale much greater than any one person or organization could on their own.
Rodney Cole, president of the DTE Foundation and DTE Corporate Citizenship