$2.5 Million in Grants Awarded Through Operation Round up Program
Each year in October, the 30,000 cooperatives across the United States come together to celebrate National Cooperative Month. With apt timing, we are proud to announce that through the Operation Round Up (ORU) program, the Cass County Electric Cooperative Foundation (previously SERVE Foundation) has reached the $2.5 million milestone for grants awarded.
Cooperatives, unique businesses dedicated solely to the end-user of their products and services, create 2.1 million jobs and generate more than $650 billion in sales and other revenue annually. Excess revenues do not go to investors, they go right back to the end-users: the cooperative members.
A co-op’s focus on its members doesn’t end there. Cooperatives hold concern for their communities as a high priority – in fact, it’s actually a core principal of the cooperative business model. With this mindset, cooperatives support their communities in many ways, be it by creating jobs and providing top-notch service, or by volunteering in local projects. Cooperatives themselves make community issues a high priority, but it’s when cooperatives and their members come together through programs like Operation Round Up that a difference can really be made.
“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all CCEC members that participated in the Operation Round Up Program,” says JoAnn Jameson, chairman of Cass County Electric Cooperative Foundation ORU board of directors. “In September, we reached an incredible milestone of awarding $2.5 million through your contributions. These dollars have been donated to individuals, organizations, and charities over the past 20 years with far-reaching impact.”
The average CCEC member participating in Operation Round Up contributes just six dollars annually. For less than the price of a single meal over the course of a year, these contributions from CCEC members add up to benefit dozens of individuals and organizations, who in turn help others in our region.
The Operation Round Up program was born in the late-80s and it all started at, you guessed it, a cooperative. The idea came from Tom Upshaw, then-CEO of Palmetto Electric Cooperative in Hardeeville, S.C. In the face of aggressive actions by the local investor-owned utility, Upshaw sought a way to better reinforce the cooperative difference and support his community.
Operation Round Up works by rounding up the electric bills of participating cooperative members to the nearest dollar. These extra few cents from each month are placed into the care of the Cass County Electric Cooperative Foundation. An independent board of directors accepts applications and awards grants to individuals and nonprofit organizations in need. Today, more than 250 electric cooperatives across the U.S. participate in the Operation Round Up program.
Grants are issued only to nonprofits dedicated to improving the quality of life in our region. Individual grants are awarded on a case-by-case basis for emergencies and self-sufficiency needs. Recently, Operation Round Up grants have been used for purchases such as a thermal imaging camera for a volunteer fire department, participants in a girls’ empowerment group, and supplies for a high school food pantry.
“What an example of the cooperative spirit,” says Jameson. “Doing together what we can’t do alone.”
On behalf of Cass County Electric Cooperative, we would like to thank each member participating in Operation Round Up. Through your contributions, we help to make our region a better place to live. We look forward to reaching many more milestones in the years to come.