SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Two historically black colleges in the ArkLaTex have been awarded thousands of dollars in grant money from the American Electric Power Foundation, according to SWEPCO.

The Southern University at Shreveport and Wiley College both received $250,000 grants as part of the foundation’s Delivering on the Dream: Social and Racial Justice grant program.

The utility company says the program is a five-year, $5 million commitment to fund organizations with programs dedicated to advancing social and racial justice in communities served by SWEPCO’s parent company, AEP. The company is encouraging its workforce to make personal commitments as allies and to act as catalysts for change.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion continue to be critical components of our company culture, but the past year has proven we still have work to do, both at AEP and in our communities,” said Janelle Coleman, vice president, Philanthropy and Community Engagement, and president of the AEP Foundation.

“The Delivering on the Dream grant program puts our words into action. AEP and its Foundation are proud to partner with these organizations dedicated to empowering equity for our customers, neighbors, and employees of color.”

The other institutions are in communities served by SWEPCO — Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, and Bluefield State College in Bluefield, Va.

The Southern University at Shreveport Foundation will use the $250,000 grant to create the STEM Academy to provide academic credits, hands-on experience and scholarships to encourage both high school students and adults of color to pursue a career in a STEM field. The Academy will have a track for high school dual enrollment students and for unemployed or underemployed adults.

Wiley College will utilize the $250,000 gift to improve its STEM academic program, including renovating its science building, updating the campus internet network, and improving its STEM curriculum. The grant also will help update campus safety and security through lighting and emergency communication enhancements.

“These grants from the AEP Foundation will enable SUSLA, Wiley College and Jarvis Christian College to expand their STEM programming, creating more opportunities for minority students to excel in school and beyond,” said Malcolm Smoak, president and chief operating officer of SWEPCO, that provides funding to the AEP Foundation.

“SWEPCO also is dedicated to building brighter futures for the communities where we live and work and remains committed to advancing justice and equity for our neighbors of color.”

The other organizations to receive funds include: the YWCA Columbus, the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, and Youth Services of Tulsa.