EEI > Delivering The Future
AEP: Powering the Next Generation of Success
March 2016
“As I look around our communities, it is clear that many children do not have the proper support, guidance, and opportunities they need to succeed. As an industry that must have skilled, innovative employees, it’s important for us to help make sure students have access to the type of education that will cultivate the reasoning and problem-solving skills they will need to be successful,” American Electric Power (AEP) Chairman, President, and CEO Nicholas K. Akins wrote in Electric Perspectives.
Akins is the driving force behind a creative middle and high school STEM program called Credits CountSM. Through Credits Count, the AEP Foundation is donating more than $11 million over five years as part of an intensive effort to improve STEM education in the public schools of Columbus, OH, where the company is headquartered and other areas where the company operates, such as Bossier City and Shreveport, Louisiana; Lawrence County, Kentucky; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Marion, Indiana. The Credits Count program started in 2013 in partnership with Columbus State Community College. 
The AEP Foundation awards grants to local community colleges that administer the Credits Count program in public school districts. Grants pay for tuition for dual enrollment at the college while students are still in high school. The program also covers STEM experiences for middle school students; cost of college readiness assessments; labs, books, and materials; tutors; professional development for teachers; summer remediation; college readiness assessments; and support to overcome other obstacles that may stand in the way of STEM success. Credits Count might even help provide transportation for students to get to a college prep boot camp.  
“The program targets young people who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to pursue college or a career,” said Akins, who also serves as chair of the AEP Foundation. “We want young minds to believe in the possibilities of college at the middle school level, then prepare to study in STEM and, finally, pursue the dual-enrollment program.” 
The Credits Count program allows students at 13 high schools to dual-enroll at community colleges, helping them graduate high school with at least 12 college credits in STEM-related fields such as engineering, information technology, and other STEM disciplines. At middle schools that feed students into participating high schools, students get introduced to STEM at an even earlier age.
The AEP Foundation has spent more than $30 million on education over the years. Akins notes that other energy companies are focused on investing in the next generation workforce, too. “Collectively, we can make a meaningful impact on young people’s lives in communities across our country.”