Local Communities

Why It Matters

Customers are the center of everything we do, so we go the extra mile for the communities we serve. Water is inherently local and we believe that helping our communities thrive is a business imperative. By understanding the needs of each community we serve, we can better serve neighbors and customers. It is vital for us to maintain strong partnerships with local communities, promote public outreach and consultation and provide financial support to local communities. To support our mission and stay true to our values, we also provide opportunities for employee volunteerism.

We understand and demonstrate the importance of remaining a valued community partner through contributions of dollars, time, energy and resources. These contributions help enhance our reputation, maintain a successful business and enable our social license to operate.

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Our Approach

We continue to build on our existing communication programs to advance public awareness of American Water’s strategy to be purpose-driven, people-powered, customer-obsessed and the trusted source of everything water. Led by our Vice President of Communications and Federal Affairs, this effort includes leveraging technology, customer research, industry coalition efforts, public policy and four External Affairs Directors, who report to their state presidents, and about 25 local External Affairs Managers who also work directly with our local communities.

We focus our efforts in the communities where we provide water and/or wastewater services. In fact, we often select our office locations alongside our operations where we can maximize positive impact on local communities. We always work to ensure the communities we serve are better because of our presence there. We built our new headquarters at One Water Street in Camden, NJ, with this in mind. Relocating even more of our employees to the city allows us to enhance our support in Camden, a historically financially distressed city, and continue to grow our roots in our new home. It enables us to form new partnerships and expand existing ones with local organizations that continue to improve the quality of life in the City of Camden, just like us.

We also build community trust by informing neighbors about the life-sustaining services we provide. We know it is important for customers to know about the significant investments we make to help ensure clean, safe, reliable and affordable water services. Our customers are also interested in our efforts to protect the environment whether it is watershed protection, reducing greenhouse gases or pharmaceutical drop-off programs to avoid contaminating water supplies.

Community members and customers can contact us through various channels, including social media, town hall meetings, community meetings and events. Our Customer Experience Department and an online “Neighborhood” review feedback drive business practice changes such as bill layout improvements and more. Please see Customer Experience for more information.

Employee Volunteerism

We enhance the lives of those we serve by supporting our employees in giving back to organizations they care about. Encouraging employee volunteerism creates a more engaged workforce and generates positive returns to the communities we serve. Our employees are Little League coaches, emergency medical technicians, volunteer firefighters and environmental leaders. We enable our operations to choose which local efforts, important to our local people, to support.

AWCF has matched more than 28,000 hours of volunteer service by our employees in the past six years, and during 2018, our employees volunteered more than 5,000 hours in just one month with AmerICANs in Action!


AmeriCANs in Action! Month of Service Volunteer Hours

Encouraging employee volunteerism creates a more engaged workforce and generates positive returns to the communities we serve.

Angelita Fasnacht & Water for People

Angelita Fasnacht

Our employees are committed to bringing clean, safe water to everyone. We are proud of employees like Angelita Fasnacht, a Senior Project Manager for Water Quality and Environmental Compliance, who grew up in Colombia and became president of a water company. Within two years, she and her organization brought clean, safe water to 50,000 people in rural Colombia. However, the terrorist group FARC kidnapped Angelita because they saw her as a threat to the communities’ dependency on them. They released her after 32 days, only after she agreed to leave the country and never return to that job, in order to save her life and that of her family. She came to the U.S. with $2,500 and did not speak English. Today she is a research scientist at our headquarters in New Jersey, finishing her Ph.D. and still leading international efforts for clean water around the world. In 2018, Angelita won an award from Water For People in recognition of her contributions to their mission and the Living Water Award In 2018.

Water for people

American Water Charitable Foundation

We have long believed in the importance of being a good neighbor and good steward of the environment. The primary focus of the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) is to support employees in their own charitable endeavors, provide stronger support for disaster relief efforts and to provide funding for higher-level initiatives related to clean water, conservation, education and community sustainability. Since its inception, the AWCF has invested more than $4 million in programs and organizations that are important to our employees and our communities.

Through our Employee Volunteer and Matching Gift Program, Employee Crisis Fund, Disaster Relief Program, Keep Communities Flowing Grant Program and our Signature Program, Building Better Communities, the AWCF is making a difference every day in diverse communities throughout the country.

  • Since 2012, AWCF has provided over $1 million in matching gifts to public charities that are important to our employees, increasing year over year. This includes more than 28,000 hours of volunteer time, provided by employees, outside of regular work hours.
  • In 2018, in partnership with the Community Foundation of New Jersey, we established the American Water Employee Crisis Fund to provide confidential emergency financial assistance to employees during times of need, such as when impacted by a natural disaster or family emergency. Created for employees, by employees, funding comes from the AWCF and employee donations. For more information, visit the AWCF website.
  • AWCF’s newest annual grant program, Keep Communities Flowing, provides grants up to $20,000 each to support 501(c)(3) public charities that connect with one or more of AWCF’s core focus areaangelas: Water and the Environment, Water and Healthy Living, Environmental Education and Community Sustainability. In the program’s inaugural year, 2019, AWCF awarded 11 projects in seven states totaling $150,000.
  • The Building Better Communities Grant Program helps communities we serve enhance or create public park spaces or programs that encourage the community to engage in water, nature-inspired play and environmental education. We offer opportunities to learn, interact and appreciate water, a critical natural resource, in a fun and engaging way.

    During the last five years, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, AWCF awarded $2 million to 14 projects in communities where our employees and our customers live, work and play.

  • In partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, we focus on pairing USA’s all-volunteer Work Boots on the Ground program with employees to volunteer their time and skills on water-related conservation projects and improving public access to water-based recreation. Project examples include ADA accessible fishing piers, boat docks and kayak and canoe trails.

The AWCF continually strives to further its charitable purpose, supporting employees and the communities we serve, to become stronger, more vibrant, healthier and environmentally friendly.

AWCF Matched Funds for Employees

Corporate Giving

We sponsor workplace-giving campaigns for two organizations focused on helping communities around the world: United Way and Water For People. Our employees contribute to these giving campaigns because they care deeply about our local and global communities.

In 2017 and 2018, our annual United Way giving campaign raised nearly $816,000. During the last 10 years, the campaign generated approximately $5 million in donations to United Way efforts across the country.

In the developing world, we support Water For People, an international non-profit organization working across nine countries to bring safe water and sanitation to four million people. In 2018, our partnership raised more than $200,000, and donated a total of $2.5 million in the last decade.

To further our employee’s charitable efforts, the American Water Charitable Foundation also provides annual donations of $50,000 to both the United Way and Water For People.