Responsibility plays a part in everything we do. Whether it's providing high-quality water and wastewater services to our customers, answering a customer concern at our call center, or helping to protect the environment, we are committed to operating our business in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Over the last two years, we have formalized our corporate responsibility
approach. We approach this not only as a business responsibility, but also as an opportunity to create a lasting impact. Here are a few of the ways we are working to make a difference:
We are committed to being responsible stewards and protectors of the environment. We recognize that our business has an impact on the environment and we strive to minimize that impact. We work very hard to protect and sustain the native environments of the communities in which we operate, and make every effort to make a difference for the better. Our annual environmental grant program
is one way we do that. Every year, we offer the opportunity to our service areas to apply for financial support for local environmental initiatives. The program began in 2006, and to date we have supplied almost half of a million dollars in awards to worthy projects.
We have a long history of giving back to the communities in which we operate
and we're proud to support the approximately 1,600 communities we serve. We actively support schools and local organizations in ways you'd expect, such as donating our time and providing monetary grants, but we've also contributed older equipment from our nationally-recognized Central Laboratory to local schools, and we've sponsored a team in the American Cancer Society's annual Bike-a-Thon for 21 years.
We provide a great deal of support for the environment at the local level through our state subsidiaries, but we also participate in a number of nationwide programs. As a company, American Water participates in industry-wide events such as World Water Day and Drinking Water Week.
Every year on March 22nd, organizations around the world celebrate World Water Day by addressing problems related to drinking water and raising awareness of the need to develop and preserve global water resources. We use this day every year as the kick-off to a week of events for our annual Water For People Campaign. Across the company, facilities host events and activities to engage employees and help encourage employee giving. Water For People helps people in developing countries improve their quality of live by supporting the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education. To date, American Water employees have donated about one million dollars to Water for People.
Drinking Water Week, an annual event created more than 30 years ago by the American Water Works Association is devoted to raising awareness of the vital role water plays in our daily lives. We participate each year by hosting events and outreach activities that teach wise water use and promote ways to help protect drinking water sources. This year's Drinking Water Week begins on Sunday, May 1st.