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Giving back to the community is in ORAU’s DNA

CEO Andy Page talks about our history of ‘paying it forward’

ORAU President and CEO Andy Page

Paying it forward for our community

From Extreme Classroom Makeovers to summer STEM activities for students, ORAU President and CEO Andy Page talks about the importance of giving back to the community. Hear it all on the Further Together podcast.

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“ORAU has been an instrumental, critical part of this community since 1946,” said Andy Page, president and CEO. “We have an historical presence in this community and have been part of this community all the way back to the Second World War. You can’t forget your history and you can’t forget the community you serve.”

Supporting the community we serve helps keep the community vibrant and strengthens the workforce that ultimately comes to work for ORAU.

“Our workforce comes from this community, and from the East Tennessee region,” he said. “What’s unique about this organization is that we find people who have worked here for 25, 30 or 35 years. You don’t find that in most companies.”

Among the many ways ORAU has supported the community includes a $100,000 pledge to help fund the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science at the Hardin Valley campus of Pellissippi State Community College. ORAU has supported Pellissippi State for many years through a wide range of programs, including sponsorship of the community college’s Middle School Mathematics Contest for more than 15 years. In 2018, more than 500 students participated in the program at no cost to them.

Because of ORAU’s support of Pellissippi State, the Tennessee Board of Regents recently honored ORAU with its Award of Excellence for Philanthropy, an award bestowed on individuals, companies and organizations that continue donate their resources, finances and personal time to Tennessee Board of Regents Institutions.

“Community colleges are so important in terms of advancing science and education in the workforce, and bringing in the talented workforce that Oak Ridge is going to need in the next 10 to 15 years,” Page said. “I think we're privileged to be a member of the community, and we have to be able to pay that back.”

ORAU specifically supports STEM education in a number of ways, including offering free professional development programs for educators and educational opportunities for students from kindergarten through high school.

ORAU directly supports the schools in our own backyard by offering education grants to Anderson County educators. Since 2002, ORAU has funded more than $500,000 in grants to area schools for projects that complement ORAU’s mission of enriching STEM education programs. Educational materials and equipment purchased with the grants—such as iPads, computer software, robotics kits and more—help teachers continue to meet statewide curriculum standards and enhance the learning experience of students in STEM subjects.

Paying it back is important to Page and to the community, which contributes more than $300,000 annually to community organizations like the Habitat for Humanity, the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, the American Museum of Science and Energy, The Oak Ridge Peace Pavilion and many others.

For the eleventh consecutive year, ORAU exceeded its goal of raising more than $100,000 in donations as part of its employee annual giving campaign that benefits the United Way and Community Shares, making total donations more than $1 million for the timeframe.

Additionally, a number of employees provide individual support and volunteer for organizations like the Helping Paws Animal Network, a non-profit organization started by a group of ORAU employees that assists animals in crisis; the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Alzheimer’s Association, Medic Samaritan and numerous others.

Page hopes ORAU’s history of community support will continue for decades to come.

“Seventy-five years ago the government attracted the best and brightest scientists and engineers to come to Oak Ridge to work on a very secret Manhattan Project that helped successfully conclude the Second World War,” he said. “What about the next 75 years? That's what I'm looking for.”

  • Group of volunteers cleaning roadway

    United Way and Community Shares

    For the tenth consecutive year, ORAU exceeded its goal of raising $100,000 in donations as part of its internal annual giving campaign that benefits the United Way and Community Shares, making total donations more than $1 million for the timeframe.

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  • second-harvest.jpg

    Second Harvest Food Bank

    Thanks to the generosity of ORAU employees, 52 children will be sponsored for a school year through the Food for Kids program of Second Harvest Food Bank, which sends backpacks full of nutritious food home with children every weekend.

  • Adult reading book with child

    Imagination Library

    As an original corporate sponsor of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in Anderson County, Tenn., ORAU has provided more than 428,800 books to area children from birth to age five since 2001. For more information, contact April Hackler at 865.241.4339.

  • Volunteers from helping paws animal network with puppy

    Helping Paws Animal Network

    Helping Paws Animal Network, a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports 30 animal rescue groups in the East Tennessee area, started in 2011, consists of 87 ORAU members and has donated a total of $175,000 to animals in need of food, vet services and homes.

  • project-grad-telethon-2019.jpg

    Project Grad Laptop Telethon

    Eric Abelquist, executive vice president and chief research officer, presented a check for the second annual WATE-TV Project Grad laptop telethon. The telethon helps ensure Project Grad seniors receive a laptop for college.

  • Hands raised in classroom

    Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties

    For more than 20 years, ORAU has participated in the Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties school supply program. In 2017, ORAU employees contributed approximately $2,100 in cash donations.

  • ORAU volunteers helping build Habitat for Humanity House

    Habitat for Humanity

    Recently, ORAU celebrated the completion of the newest Habitat for Humanity home in Anderson County. In addition to the financial support totaling $25,000, many ORAU employees, along with their families and friends, volunteered to help build the new home. All skill levels, from those adept at hand tools to those who could help pick up debris, were welcomed. The home’s completion was celebrated with a dedication event for the new owner and her family in June.

  • ORAU volunteers at the Holiday Bureau in Oak Ridge

    Holiday Bureau’s Holiday Toy Distribution

    Always mindful of the need to strengthen the research and education enterprise of our nation, ORAU never loses sight of the importance to also invest at the local level. ORAU’s outreach activities are evidence of our mission to advance science and education, starting with our own community and reaching out from there.

    Employees took turns playing the role of elves at the Holiday Bureau’s Toy Distribution during the holidays as they helped parents in need in the community find the perfect presents for their children.

  • ORAU employee Sheila Johnson and mats made from grocery bags

    Helping the Homeless

    ORAU employee Shelia Johnson and other members of Oak Valley Baptist Church recycle grocery bags by cutting them into strips and weaving sleeping mats for the homeless. Each mat takes about 10 hours to produce, and the plastic bags they’re made of provide insulation against moisture and cold. Many ORAU employees keep Shelia supplied with the bags to support her in her personal mission to help the homeless.