AEC firms always talk about how they want their work to “change the world.” One firm, AECOM, is taking corporate responsibility to another level by providing financial support that empowers its employees to tackle humanitarian, environmental, and infrastructure challenges around the world.
AECOM’s inaugural Blueprint Travel Grant program, which it launched last month, awarded 25 grants to support projects that range from the installation of solar-powered water purification systems, to the design and construction of educational facilities in rural communities. This impact initiative spans 15 countries, with the purpose of bringing lasting, scalable solutions to communities and people in need.
The countries include Cambodia, China, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, Panama, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda.
While AECOM did not disclose its financial commitment to this program, it did state that it is making donations directly to nonprofit partners, for specific campaigns or projects, “to champion our employees’ participation in a skills-based volunteer trip service,” says Brendan Ranson-Walsh, the firm’s Vice President of Global Communications and Corporate Responsibility.
Responding by email to BD+C’s questions, Ranson-Walsh says that this program is the “cornerstone” of AECOM’s corporate responsibility platform Blueprint for a Better World, which has three core pillars: opening doors, creating opportunity, and protecting tomorrow.
AECOM employees help load a section of pipe for transport to the work site in the nearby mountains in Chacayá, Guatemala, a small, Mayan village where coffee farming is the predominant industry. Weighing over 120 pounds each, the 100-meter rolls of pipe presented a significant challenge in hauling them up the steep mountain trail for installation. The community organized teams of 20 people to haul and install three-four rolls per day. Image: AECOM
Examples of the projects that AECOM’s employees are engaging, with the firm’s support, include:
•A team that’s partnering with Engineers Without Borders USA to design, engineer, plan, and construct a vehicular and pedestrian bridge for a Mayan community in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. The bridge would provide better access to the community, lower transportations costs, and improve medical response time for more than 1,200 residents.
•A team from 10 of AECOM’s offices in three countries is working with Building Humanity to construct a bakery for the Felix Family Village in Surat Thani, Thailand. That village supports orphaned and abandoned children, including those who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS. The bakery will provide food and extra income to the orphanage.
•Two AECOM employees are partnering with Engineers Without Borders Kenya to design and construct safe ecological sanitation facilities at the Inchuni Primary School in Kisii County, Kenya. The new facilities will address the school’s substandard and unhygienic sanitation infrastructure, and prevent the displacement of more than 500 students and faculty members.
“Through the transformational projects they deliver, our people are the driving force behind AECOM’s positive impact in communities around the world,” says Mike Burke, the firm’s Chairman and CEO.
Edmund “Eddie” Doku, Project Engineer II, Design & Consulting Services, at a water and sanitation project in Ghana. Eddie has been volunteering with Engineers Without Borders USA since 2011. Image: AECOM