The Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation is announcing plans to donate $700,000 across its service territories to charities in support of improving equity and social justice.
On the six-month anniversary of the attack on two Atlanta spas, the Foundation has committed the first $100,000 to charities who help raise awareness of and strive to end bias against the AAPI community, which includes anyone of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry.
“Together as individuals and as an organization, the Southern Company Gas family of companies is committed to speaking out against anti-Asian hate and discrimination, ensuring that all people feel welcomed, valued and respected,” said Bryan Batson, executive vice president, chief external and public affairs officer for Southern Company Gas and president of the Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation. “Throughout the next year, the Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation will partner with other funds and organizations to directly support the safety and dignity of minorities in the communities we are privileged to serve.”
As part of this commitment, the Foundation is donating $10,000 to the AAPI Crime Victims & Education Fund – the first national fund for AAPI victims of racially motivated crimes. The fund was founded by AAPI community leaders and organizations in Georgia. The company is donating another $5,000 to the Asian American Bar Foundation in Houston, which has a mission to educate and serve Asian American lawyers and communities in the greater Houston area.
“We are grateful to the Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation for their generous donation to the AAPI Crime Victims & Education Fund,” says fund co-chair BJay Pak, partner at Alston & Bird and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. “In the wake of tragic criminal acts, having resources that allow the community to focus on healing is in everyone’s best interests. We must go beyond the grotesque initial interest in the criminal acts and see violent and bias crimes as something that harms the entire community. Education and outreach are key to prevention.”
While domestic anti-AAPI rhetoric and actions are not new, anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149% in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Some examples of hate crimes against Asian Americans include assaults, verbal harassment and the March 16 attacks on two Atlanta spas that left eight dead, including six women of Asian descent.
Following bipartisan support, President Joe Biden in May signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels. Southern Company Gas said in a statement at the time, “We applaud the bipartisan efforts that helped pass into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and stand alongside policymakers in our commitment to fostering inclusive communities and addressing hate crimes at the source.”
The Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation is committed to ensuring all members of the communities it serves feel safe and respected. Additional funds will be distributed over the next 12 months to organizations across the Southern Company Gas footprint in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, and Virginia.
To learn more about how the Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation is helping to transform communities, visit scgcares.org.